BSNL to roll out rural wireless broadband; DoT assisting with funding

27 Jan 2009

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) that will see the latter bring wireless broadband services to rural regions, the Business Standard reports. BSNL will offer the services at 29,000 exchanges across the country, with each exchange expected to provide a single kiosk for public use and allow for 31 connections. The regulator has stated that six connections in each exchange will be reserved for institutions including schools, with the remainder available for residential users. The project is expected to be completed by 2011.

The project is part of the government’s plans to hit its target of 20 million broadband subscribers in the country by 2010. The DoT has reportedly set aside INR18 billion (USD366.8 million) to help fund BSNL-led projects, with INR7 billion expected to help towards the cost of upgrading exchanges for wireless broadband services. A further INR7 billion and INR4 billion will be used for kiosks and computers. Private telcos have criticised the funding, claiming that the extra monies are being allotted from the country’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund.