If things go as planned, then soon netizens in the country will have a Google-like comprehensive website to access all government department services with a click of a mouse. According to latest reports, Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal has asked his Ministry officials to prepare a 'blueprint' of such a plan by 2014. Sibal was at the inauguration of the National Data Centre in the capital. He was quoted as saying, "My dream will only come true when we will provide people of India with that (Google) kind of platform and I hope before 2014 a blueprint of that kind of platform is laid on the table for me to sign on so that future is cast in stone. This is my dream and vision."
Such a platform would help Indian netizens get all info at one place (Image credit: Getty Images)
He shared that he always has this question in mind, as to why the nation does not possess a Google-like platform, instead of the current system wherein users have to access the website of each Ministry for information. Sibal opines that there should be one common platform offering all kinds of services that can be provided through the Internet.
On a related note though, Sibal recently shared in a written reply to Rajya Sabha that at the end of March 2012, there were 22.86 million Internet subscribers in India. Unfortunately,, the numbers have been a lot lower than the target that was set for 2010. Sibal informed the Parliament that the low numbers were the result of multiple factors that came in its way. Elaborating further, he shared that the number of Internet subscribers as per the data by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for the last three years was 16.18 million (2009-10), 19.67 million (2010-11) and 22.86 million (2011-12).
Reportedly, under the Broadband Policy 2004, the government had targeted 6 million, 18 million and 40 million Internet users for the years 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively.
As for the numbers for wireline Internet subscribers, they were 6.7 million (2005), 10.36 million (2007) and 18.69 million (2010). It has been known that the policy had targeted a broadband user base of 3 million, 9 million and 20 million for 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively. Shockingly though, the actual numbers stood at 0.90 million (2005), 3.13 million (2007) and 10.99 million (2010).
As per the policy, an Internet connection with a speed of 256 kbps and higher is categorised as broadband. Highlighting the factors hampering the growth of Internet and broadband in India, Sibal shared that there is "lack of interest in private operators, for broadband expansion in rural areas being non-remunerative." “Difficulty in laying optical fibre cable (OFC) network due to the issues related to right of way clearances and high cost of right of way charges," he went on to add.
Sibal shared that the other obstacles include high backhaul cost, low PC penetration, high cost of customer premises equipment, low literacy levels, lack of local content and poor power supply.
He revealed that furthering its plans to provide Internet at cheaper rates, the government has approved a scheme for creation of a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) to offer broadband connectivity to 247,864 village panchayats. Reportedly, the project will be funded by USOF and initial estimated cost of project is Rs 20,000 crore. The proposed period for the completion of the project is two years. "On completion of the NOFN project, non-discriminatory access to the network will be provided to all the categories of ISPs,” Sibal elaborated.