Less than 3% of rural councils in India have functional commercial broadband despite government’s ‘Digital India’ push: Report

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  • The Indian government’s ‘Broadband for all’ under ‘Digital India’ scheme has reportedly equipped only 2.5% of 250,000 village councils that the government had originally targeted.
  • The government previously announced that 110,000 village councils had received optical fibre connectivity, laying cable fibre.
  • India’s Ministry of Communication in October 2018 said that they had already achieved 50% of its target.
Four years after the Indian government launched its ambitious ‘Digital India’ plan, only 5,010 village councils or less than 3% of the targeted villages have been found to have a functioning commercial broadband, The Wire reported citing internal government data seen by the publication.

In 2014, the Indian government infused over ₹110 billion into its ‘Digital India,’ which included plans to bring broadband to as many as 250,000 village councils by the end of 2016, according to the government’s ‘Digital India’ website.

The findings raise questions on the success of one of the key programs of the Narendra Modi government. Earlier this year, the government announced that it has already provided optical fibre connectivity to over 110,000 village councils.

However, the high number of fibre optical cables has little meaning unless there is an increase in number of broadband connections used by people, The Wire reported citing K.N Gupta.

India’s Ministry of Communication in October 2018 claimed that they had already achieved 50% of its target and aimed to reach the full target of 250,000 by March 2019.

To be sure, the number of free test connections provided in rural India is much higher than actual broadband connections, at 56,700, according to the report. However, these test connections are functional only for a short period of six months.