This was the fourth (or fifth if one broadens the definition) broadband course we had taught in India. But there was something different about this course. Possibly it was because NOFN/BharatNet was becoming real on the ground. But it was not yet real in terms of connecting people as indicated by the report below.
Out of the 65,475 gram panchayats where optic fibre cable has been laid, only 14,569 gram panchayats across 22 states have active connectivity as on December 6, according to Bharat Broadband Network Ltd.
A senior official involved with the implementation process told The Indian Express that with the current model of BharatNet, while the government may succeed in getting infrastructure laid as per its target of covering 1,00,000 gram panchayats by March 2017, it may not be able to provide active connectivity in these hinterland areas.
Having conducted a survey of institutional users in two of the three areas which had the longest experience with 100 mbps of connectivity terminated in the Gram Panchayat office we knew well what the issues were, as did the knowledgeable participants. This awareness was possibly what distinguished this course from previous ones. Hopefully, we will collectively and individually be able to help the government connect citizens rather than empty rooms in Gram Panchayats.
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