Broadband connection to all district, block headquarters by Mar '09

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New Delhi, Sept 15 (UNI) State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) today said it will extend its broadband services to all districts and block headquarters of the country by March 2009.

At present, BSNL covers about 95 per cent of the District Headquarters and about 44 per cent of the Blocks, an official statement said.

Broadband coverage will be extended to 1.48 lakh villages in the next six months from the current 30,000 villages. BSNL provides broadband services in 3,261 cities, which will be further expanded to 5,000 cities by March next year.

Communications and IT Minister Thiru A Raja had recently announced government's plan to initially connect 5,000 blocks by wireless broadband soon after the allocation of the spectrum, with support from the USO fund.

Villages within the 10 km radius of the Block headquarter will be covered by such connectivity, which will benefit institutional users like schools, public health centres, village panchayats and Community Service Centers (CSCs) meant to provide e-Governance and data services to rural areas.

BSNL has already floated zonal tenders to procure 93 million lines to extend coverage of its GSM mobile services to all the villages in the country having more than 1,000 population.

It has extended 11 million GSM connections in the rural areas covering about 2.56 lakh villages.

In order to boost telephony in rural areas, BSNL recently has introduced a tariff plan called 'Gramin 75', under which fixed monthly charges have been reduced from Rs 110 to Rs 75.

The Plan applies to exchange systems having capacity between 1,000 and 29,999 lines. Fixed monthly charges of Sulabh Plan under Fixed/WLL service in exchange system of more than 29,999 lines have also been reduced from Rs 120 to Rs 99.

UNI SR AK ND1816

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