Foreword Chandrajit Banerjee Director General Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) The role of high-speed broadband in transforming the livelihoods of millions can hardly be over-emphasized. Various countries across the world have recognized this potential and have been actively investing in broadband infrastructure as part of the National Agenda. India’s telecom sector has created history with its phenomenal growth story and there is no reason why broadband growth would not follow a similar trajectory. The potential of connecting the relatively under-connected rural areas is especially high. The Government of India has taken a commendable step by commissioning the National Fiber Optic Network with an investment of INR 21,000 crores. The National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) will connect 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats with a maximum speed of 100 Mbps. Such high-speed Internet access can not only extend connection to the bottom of the pyramid, but also generate skills and employment, thereby delivering empowerment to the rural population. The transformation possibilities are endless. It is now imperative to deliberate on how to create compelling services using this national asset – services that will touch the lives of nearly 90 crore rural Indians and empower them socially and financially. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has embraced ‘Accelerating Economic Growth through Innovation, Transformation, Inclusion and Governance’ as its theme for the year 2013-14 and is committed to the cause of infrastructure building for competitiveness and inclusive growth. As part of its continuous agenda to promote the growth of broadband in the country, CII has commissioned this study to KPMG in India to explore viable business models that can enable the provision of relevant and affordable services to India’s rural population using the NOFN. Developed by KPMG in India, this report explores how broadband can help create a sustainable and digitally inclusive society. This report is expected to serve as a useful reference for the Government and the industry as they jointly deliberate on how best the national fiber network asset can be leveraged.
Introduction India has witnessed a remarkable growth story with the telecom sector, especially in the wireless segment. The increasing use of mobile phones in rural areas has brought about drastic changes in the lives and livelihoods of rural Indians. Mobile telephony has enabled significant social, financial and economic inclusion, led to the creation of a strong ecosystem and thriving business models, and created disruptive value at the bottom of the pyramid. The story with broadband could be similar, if not more exciting. The National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) connecting 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats is already under implementation. The industry has started experimenting with pilot projects in various parts of the country and the experience has been encouraging. It is believed that these services, if operational at a commercial scale, can significantly facilitate the Government’s inclusion agenda, while safeguarding the commercial interests of private sector participants. Kiran Karnik Chairman, CII National Committee on Telecom & Broadband (2013-14) This report considers four sectors where NOFN-enabled high-speed broadband can make a difference at a grass root level. These priority sectors are education, healthcare, banking and agriculture. It presents a broad-based view of the possible business models that could emerge and identifies three critical stake-holders in the broadband ecosystem – the Public Sector, the Private Sector, and the Panchayats – who need to come together to build sustainable business models that guarantee significant commercial (business feasibility) and social returns (inclusive growth, rural skill-building and employment generation). Developed by KPMG in India, this report explores some possible business models in the Public-Private partnership mode and presents some recommendations arising from extensive desk research and interactions with industry and Government representatives. The report is intended to be thought-provoking, throwing up various possibilities that lie ahead in India’s broadband journey. We hope it will stimulate not only discussion and debate, but concrete action to create the facilitative environment which will enable broadband to play a major role in the agenda for growth and inclusion.