Rural Broadband Connectivity Initiatives – BSNL and Microsoft

BSNL plans to provide broadband to 20,000 villages that are already connected through optical fibre. The project is expected to cost Rs.400 crore and a BSNL source has said that it is not commercially viable, so government help is being sought. Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Telecom had announced plans to provide broadband to all gram panchayats, secondary and higher secondary schools and public health care centres by 2007-end. [source:Business Standard]

Earlier, Microsoft formally announced “Project Saksham”; they intend to put up 5000 broadband enabled kiosks across 200 small towns in rural India. Hughes India is enabling the connectivity, through “satellite broadband” and intends to provide “education programs, pre-paid top-ups, airline ticketing, matrimonial services and a host of other services through its alliance partners.” Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India, had spoken about Project Saksham in his keynote address at the India is Innovation forum, earlier this year. Later, Microsoft also tied up with IDRC and launched a rural incubation fund of $200,000.
Agreed, that there is a huge marketing out there, but how much would this market be willing to pay?
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