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India to Install 25,000 Mobile Towers in 500 Days

Image credit: GoI_MeitY; Twitter

At a three-day Digital India conference for state IT ministers, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ashwini Vaishnaw, announced that IN 260 billion (US $3.1 billion) has been approved to install 25,000 new mobile towers over the next 500 days. He said the move will connect all parts of the country, one of the main objectives of the Digital India initiative. The project will be financed by the Universal Service Obligation Fund. The state-owned Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) will be used to deploy the towers. The announcement comes within days of the government launching 5G services in the country, marking a new era of high-speed connectivity.

The conference was attended by national ministers of IT and communications as well state IT ministers from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Mizoram, Sikkim, and Puducherry. Vaishnaw congratulated the states and union territories for their speedy onboarding of the PM Gati Shakti, which is a digital platform created to leverage technology and improve connectivity between infrastructure schemes and ministries. The portal brings together 16 ministries for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure projects across the country. It will benefit the logistics sector most with investment across roads, highways, ports, airports, and multi-modal terminals.

On the first day of the conference, detailed discussions on key priority areas of Digital India initiatives were held with states and union territories. On the second day, MeitY organised three sessions on IT Rules, Online Gaming, and Data Governance; Digital India Bhashini and Digital Payment; and MyScheme and Meri Pehchaan.

On the third day, MeitY organised five-panel discussions: Attracting Startups to Tier 2 Cities and Sustaining Them; Use of Emerging Tech in Public Services; Making India a Talent Nation; Realisation of Digital Government in States; Make-in-India for the Globe – India as Semiconductor Nation.

In the concluding remarks, the Secretary, MeitY, Alkesh Kumar Sharma, said that the government is committed to promoting technology start-ups beyond Tier-1 cities. He emphasised collaboration, start-up-friendly policies, and incentives at the state level to create a thriving start-up ecosystem. Regarding emerging technology, he stressed the importance of data-driven decision-making and data and process-driven innovations using artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, drones, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The government, industry, and academia should work together to constantly train/retrain youths and professionals on deep technologies to make them future-ready and to establish India as a talent-nation. Sharma mentioned that the ‘Digital by Default’ approach and principles of contactless, paperless, invite-less, and convenient services are vital to improving and delivering personalised and proactive services.

Launched in 2015, the Digital India initiative is the government’s flagship programme, which aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. It consists of nine pillars: broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public Internet access programme, e-governance: reforming government through technology, e-Kranti (the electronic delivery of services), information for all, electronics manufacturing, IT for jobs, and early harvest programmes.

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