Government may bundle internet, e-services projects into one

The telecom department (DoT) plans to shortly move a Cabinet note to merge two key broadband ventures into a jumbo Rs 60,000-crore project to speed up delivery of high-speed internet and government services to the common man under the ambitious Digital India drive.

It is also weighing the pros and cons of mandating Bharat Broadband Networks (BBNL) to implement both the national broadband and government-to-citizen e-services projects as a single venture on a turnkey basis, a top department official told ET. Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is learnt to have sought the views of DoT and its rural network infrastructure financing arm, the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF), on a potential roadmap, including cost structures, of mandating BBNL to execute both the national optic fibre network, and also leverage it to deliver Wi-Fi-based e-services across rural India.

“The minister wanted DoT’s views on whether BBNL has the requisite managerial depth and manpower resources to implement both projects to meet broadband targets in the backdrop of Digital India goals,” a top government official present in a recent meeting chaired by Prasad told ET.

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