The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project is picking up steam. The Centre has laid out optical fibre in 36,738 gram panchayats and it plans to increase the coverage to 50,000 panchayats by March. As per government estimates, at present, optical fibre cable connectivity is available in all State capitals, districts, HQs and up to the block level.
Eventually, the government plan to connect all the 2,50,000 gram panchayats in the country. According to reports, the pace of laying of cables has doubled in the current fiscal. In the current fiscal till January 17, about 54,808 km of cable has been laid.
The Centre plans to utilise existing fibres of PSUs (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) and will lay incremental fibre to connect to gram panchayats wherever necessary. The network thus created will be enhanced by appropriate technology, creating sufficient bandwidth at the Gram Panchayats. the connectivity gap between gram panchayats and blocks will be filled by this method.
The government had fixed this deadline for completing the rollout of optical fibre in a phased manner by December 2016.
Among other objectives, the NOFN, or the Bharat Broadband Network Ltd, will eventually provide 100 Mbps broadband connectivity to all the gram panchayats. It plans to increase broadband penetration in rural areas to foster socio-economic development.
The NOFN project is estimated to cost about Rs 20,000 Cr.