In partnership with Ford Foundation, LIRNEasia is working on a project on ‘Facilitating and enriching policy discourse on improving broadband access by the poor‘. This work is expected to result in greater awareness of practices and innovations in the region on increasing broadband penetration.
As part of this project, a research was undertaken by Nalini Srinivasan and P Vigneswara Ilavarasan on National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) in India. This research was published in Economic and Political weekly last week. The abstract of the published paper is as follows:
The National Optical Fibre Network is being implemented largely by public sector organisations in the country. NOFN will connect 2,50,000 gram panchayats. It aims to deliver information and communication technology-based goods and services to the rural households by private service providers by December 2016. Despite support from the top political leaders, the project is delayed by more than two years by bureaucratic hurdles and lack of excitement on the part of the private players. The pilot implementation of the project was able to connect only the government offices. This paper suggests that the absorptive capacity needs to be developed and private players require aggressive goading, but without ignoring the idea of social inclusion. There should be a sustained political support till the final implementation of the project, with large impetus coming from the government in the initial phases.