The Northeast is set to zip through the digital superhighway with access to high-speed and high-quality internet services soon. The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) signed an agreement with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on Wednesday for hiring 10 Gbps international bandwidth for internet connectivity to Agartala from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), via Cox Bazar/Kuakata. USOF was set up in 2002 to fund the extension of telecom services to commercially unviable rural and remote parts of India. It is an attached office of the Department of Telecom and is headed by the Administrator, USO Fund appointed by the central government. It was decided that the resources for meeting the obligation would be raised through a Universal Access Levy (UAL), which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licences.
BJP leaders and officials have frequently said that the Narendra Modi government stands committed to the development of the Northeast on all fronts and access to high-quality internet is on the top of the agenda for newly appointed IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
Augmenting Connectivity!Citizens will get high-speed internet connectivity for better access to e-services in the North Eastern states. pic.twitter.com/Hehq7EoZ8G
— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) August 18, 2021
Under the agreement, USOF will be responsible for providing financial support to BSNL for three years for hiring this international bandwidth. This will be a huge boost for connectivity in a state like Tripura, say observers, where people will be able to access various online services including e-governance, education, e-health, e-commerce and banking using high-speed internet.
Officials said one of the biggest beneficiaries of this in the present Covid times will be the healthcare field as workers have often had to travel on foot for many kilometres through difficult terrain to deliver a vaccine. High-speed internet will help people get access to services under the Digital Health Mission and also the effective use of drones, etc, will become possible in times of crisis, they said.