Rural Broadband Project Will Be Commissioned in Kerala on Monday

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Rural Broadband Project Will Be Commissioned in Kerala on Monday
Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will on Monday commission India's first hi-speed rural broadband network in Kerala's Idukki district under the Digital India programme, an official statement said in New Delhi on Saturday.

"With the commissioning of Idukki, the district, which is relatively inaccessible and has a large tribal and rural population, will become the first district in the country to have all its gram panchayats connected through NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network)," the statement said.

"It is expected that the establishment of NOFN would open up new avenues for access service providers like mobile operators, cable TV operators etc. to launch next generation services, and spur creation of local employment opportunities encompassing e-commerce, IT outsourcing etc. as well as services such as e-banking, e-health and e-education for inclusive growth," it added.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will be the guest of honour at the event.

NOFN is the world's largest rural connectivity project. It seeks to link each of India's 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through a broadband optical fibre network. On its completion, NOFN is expected to facilitate broadband connectivity for over 600 million rural citizens.

NOFN, which is being funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), Department of Telecom, is envisaged as a non-discriminatory telecom infrastructure that will bridge the gap in rural telecom access. NOFN will enable 100Mbps of bandwidth in each gram panchayat.

In the first phase, NOFN will cover 50,000 gram panchayats, with the balance 200,000 panchayats expected to be covered in a phased manner by 2016. The project is being implemented by three central PSUs - BSNL, PGCIL and Railtel in the phase first.

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