Wed, Jan 18, 2017 | updated 03:34 PM IST

LIRNEasia conducts only institutional survey of 'BharatNet Assessing Internet Usage' in rural India

Updated: Jan 04, 2017 16:51 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 4 (ANI): LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank based in Sri Lanka, conducted an institutional survey in Oct 2015 Jan 2016 revealing use and access of BharatNet, an Information superhighway for providing broadband connectivity to 250,000 Gram Panchayats in rural India.

The survey, led by Associate Professor P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan of IIT Delhi was conducted among the institutional users in the gram panchayats of BharatNet pilot areas, included 1,329 surveys of Institutions in Arain (Rajasthan) and Parvada (Andhra Pradesh) blocks. The survey specifically assessed the interest and capacity of the institutional users to use and access the Internet in Gram Panchayats.

The study followed the quantitative survey method and the data were collected from the present and potential institutional users of the BharatNet.

The categories of institutional users interviewed at every Gram Panchayats included state government organizations, central government organizations, private organizations, NGOs and semi-governmental organizations.

The BhartaNet project utilizes and expands the existing optic fibre network of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Rail Tel Corporation of India Limited and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.

The project is being executed by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), a special purpose vehicle owned by the above state-owned enterprises, and is funded by universal services obligation fund. This digital infrastructure is expected to take govt.-to-citizens (G2C), business-to-citizens (B2C) and person-to-person (P2P) services to rural areas and contribute to socio-economic development. The cost of the project is estimated to be USD eight to 10 billion or Rs. 70,000 crore.

"Institutional users are pertinent as they would take the broadband from the Gram Panchayats to the individual consumers and households. The survey reveals that only one third of them use Internet and nearly 70 percent of non-users do not have any intention to use Internet in near future. The use of BharatNet is in single digit which is a challenge as well as an opportunity for BBNL and the Govt. as more institutional users are required to experience the benefits of Internet for demonstration effects," said IIT Delhi, Dr. P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan.

"The survey can prove to be a useful tool to plan a roadmap ahead to improvise services through creating demand in poor performing areas," added Ilavarasan.

"This is the first and the only demand side study providing an in-depth understanding on actual and potential institutional BharatNet users across rural India. The survey unveils some of the key facts on level of awareness and use in BharatNet pilot projects areas. We hope the survey report would provide strategic insights to the concerned authorities to work on improving internet access in rural India," said founding chair of LIRNEasia, Rohan Samarajiva. (ANI)