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3 | Creating viable

3 | Creating viable business models for inclusive growth through the National Optical Fiber Network Internet usage in rural India can be spurred by focusing on the critical success factors, i.e., the 4As –Availability, Affordability, Accessibility and Acceptability. Availability: The availability of relevant regional content and the G2C services envisaged in the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) are two pull factors that could spur Internet usage in rural India. However, as revealed through a Cisco study (refer to chart 3), lack of service availability is one of the biggest barriers to Internet usage at rural ICT centers. Accessibility: As per the IAMAI-IMRB study, Common Service Centers (CSC) at the Panchayat level serve as the most common touchpoint for accessing the Internet in rural areas. Each CSC caters to some six villages and nearly 30 percent of rural consumers have to travel more than 10 km to access the Internet at the nearest CSC. Many CSCs also suffer from inadequate power supply and Internet connectivity issues. 8 Affordability: Broadband usage in rural India can be stimulated through affordable delivery of critical services such as healthcare, education, banking, agriculture, etc. to the rural population. Acceptability: Uptake of affordable, relevant services via electronic means in rural India is contingent upon awareness of the relative merits of such services and the perceived value. Due to relatively lower awareness and education levels, rural India still does not seem to fully accept the Internet as an empowerment medium. Therefore, awareness programs would be required to educate the rural population on the value proposition of using ICT in accessing essential services. Further, content delivery in vernacular languages would increase the acceptability of e-services in rural areas. A lot of the critical needs of villagers can be met by enabling easy and affordable access to basic information in vernacular languages. Realizing the potential of ICT in achieving the inclusive growth targets, the Government has given special impetus to broadband in National Telecom Policy, 2012. A key step in this direction is the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) project. Chart 3: Barriers to usage of Internet in rural ICT centers Source: CISCO IBSG-IMRB Rural India Connected Life Survey, 2012 Note: Market survey of around 3000 respondent across most states in India. 37% respondents in ICT-connected villages. VLE refers to village level entreprenuer - the person in-charge of the rural ICT center 8 World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology - “Citizen’s expectations from rural telecenters”

Creating viable business models for inclusive growth through the National Optical Fiber Network | 4 The National Fiber Optic Network (NOFN) Through the NOFN project, the Government plans to extend fiber connectivity from the block level to the Panchayat level by connecting 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up for this project, Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL), is working on laying out the necessary length of fiber. Figure 1: NOFN infrastructure Service Layer High Speed Internet, Video/Voice calling, Video Entertainment and E-Services (Learning, Health, Retail, Banking, Governance) State (28)/ District (640) level PGCIL DWDM Core Layer: Fiber transport BSNL DWDM RAILTEL DWDM Core/Fiber to be provided by BSNL, PGCIL and RailTel Block (6283) level Middle mile layer: Fiber access GPON The focus of the NOFN project: INR 21,000 crore investment from the USOF Gram Panchayat (2,50,000) level Wi-Fi Villages (638,619) Last mile layer: Service Providers 3G 4G Wired Expected to be provided by private telecom operators through nondiscriminatory access End User devices (PC, Mobile Phones, Tablet, Laptops, STB, VoIP Terminals, Retail PoS) Source: Adapted from ‘Connecting India – Enabling Socially Inclusive Growth through National Broadband Network, Cisco, 2012’

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