India has allocated 200 billion rupees ($3.5 billion) to deploy a national fiber network for local and federal government departments.
The government has revealed that the National Optical Fibre network (NOFN) will link around 250,000 gram panchayats, or village or small town self-governments.
A new state-owned company, Baharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), has been set up to oversee the rollout of fiber cable from block level to gram panchayat level.
BBNL will be responsible for deploying around 500,000km of fiber as part of the rollout.
While the cables are being deployed, a newly-created co-ordination committee will assess the networking requirements of various government departments, and determine how the fiber network can best be used to meet the requirements.
This committee consists of representatives from the telecom, IT and various other ministries, as well as BBNL and established state-owned telecom provider BSNL.
The official announcement states that “it is expected that by the time the optical fiber network is rolled out, ministries both at the central as well as at the state level will be ready with applications to be rolled out on the network.”
India's government first floated the idea of deploying a dedicated government telecom network in January.
But at the time it was suggested that the network would be for government only use, whereas the NOFN will also involve the provision of government-to-citizen e-services and applications.