<p>After ensuring the spread of telephony to every nook and corner of the country, the government today set its eyes on a similar feat for broadband services, setting a target of 600 million high-speed internet connections by 2020.
The draft National Telecom Policy 2011, unveiled by Minister of Communications and IT Kapil Sibal, went to the extent of likening the broadband connectivity to basic necessities like health and education and proposes to work towards a 'Right to Broadband' for every citizen.
The policy has also called for providing, by 2015, 'Broadband on Demand' services, which would enable affordable, across-the-country, round-the-clock and high-speed internet connectivity to the users.
"The primary objective of National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2011 is maximising public good by making available affordable, reliable and secure telecommunication and broadband services across the entire country," Sibal said.
The draft NTP-2011 aims to achieve 175 million broadband connections by 2017, and 600 million by 2020.
"The move is definitely good for customer and rural economy as such and likely help bridge urban-rural divide and absolutely must for GDP growth as there is direct co-relation between GDP and broadband growth," Deloitte Haskins & Sells Partner Hemant Joshi said.
The draft also aims at offering broadband services at a minimum 2 Mbps on download and making available higher speed of at least 100 Mbps on demand.
As of June 2011, rural broadband had a penetration of only 1% and has lagged behind the growth of telephony in India (teledensity of 74%).
Besides, the draft also aims at providing high speed and high quality broadband access to all village panchayats through optical fibre by 2014 and progressively to all villages and habitations.
Telecom Commission, the decision making arm of the Department of Telecommunications, has already cleared the Rs 20,000-crore project to provide broadband connectivity to all villages in the next three years.