West Bengal Announces New Broadband Policy

The eastern State of West Bengal in India has announced the broadband policy aiming at overall growth by restructuring the telecom infrastructure.  The new broadband policy aims to deliver affordable yet high quality internet services to common people.

The new policies announced by the State authorities will no doubt, bring technological revolution in the state. The broadband technology implementation will result in the creation of more jobs, both direct and indirect. The availability of high speed internet services will drive innovative entrepreneurship, especially from the younger generation.

West Bengal is one of the Indian states where infrastructure development could not bring changes to the common man’s life. There is a high polarity between the lifestyles of those in the cities and villages. Even the disparity exists among the urban population. The new broadband policy will at least try to reduce the gap between the rural and urban population in terms of internet accessibility. The digital-divide exiting in the state is not an isolated issue of the state of West Bengal only. In India, generally, this is the case.

The policy will lead to technological innovation, increased job creation, increased competitiveness, and entrepreneurship development leading to ease of living for the common citizens and reducing the urban-rural digital divide.

The broadband policy calls for the deployment of next generation networks based on fiber optic cables. The state does not have a fiber optic cable manufacturing company so far. All the cables need to come to the state from other states. In India, there are more than 20 fiber optic cable manufacturing companies including Finolex Cables, HFCL, Birla Cables, Aksh Optifibre, Sterlite, Apar Industries, Sudarshan Telecom, Paramount Cables, ZTT Cables, Polycab, etc.

West Bengal’s Broadband policy aims at further strengthening digitally enabled governance in the state by providing high-speed broadband access to key service institutions even in rural areas along with schools, colleges, health centers, kindergarten schools known as Anganwadi centers, police stations, government offices, and other public service delivery institutions.

The new broadband policy is expected to promote increased participation of local manufacturing industries and services leading to the proliferation of wireless broadband services. It is to be noted that the policy has been announced at a time when the central election commission prepares for the announcement for the state assembly election, which is due in April this year.

Indian bureaucracy is particularly known in the country for slowing down the development programs. A single-window clearance for telecom-infrastructure development to industries will ensure quick deployment of the project.

The broadband networks if implemented as per the policy will provide connectivity even to the farthest point in the state and the state government’s services can be easily accessed even by the citizens living on the fringe.

Broadband policy as stated above will demand more fiber optic cables in the state to connect to the wireless base stations, homes, businesses, and government offices. The fee payable for setting up Base Tower Stations (BTS) and laying optical fiber cables have been rationalized and revised to make it uniform across the state. The entire application process for issuance of NOC will be done through an online Single Window Clearance Portal known as “ANUMATI” (literally meaning “Permission”).

The new broadband policy is set for bringing changes in West Bengal. Now, the implementation of this policy needs to be watched. After the state election, the politicians in the country should not forget what they planned before the elections.

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