What do you think of the government’s Digital India plan?
The government can use the billions from the Universal Service Obligation fund for broadband connectivity. The markets cannot handle back haul infrastructure and in most countries, some amount of state investment is necessary. Some of the open access details have to be worked out. The government seems to have a monopoly position in execution. We agree with the vision that every Indian should have a smartphone by 2019 and have a broadband connection too.
It is true that there are billions of dollars taken from telecom user sitting in the Universal Service Fund. But the revised budget for Digital India is now USD 17 billion inclusive of the considerable costs of drawing fiber to the Gram Panchayat level. That is a tad more than what is available in the USF. So taxpayer funds will have to be spent.
The problems already experienced in giving government entities the sole charge of executing the project has been correctly identified, as has been opacity around open access.