In its efforts to bridge the urban and rural digital divide, the Government of India has decided to provide broadband connectivity in all Gram Panchayats, Government Higher Secondary Schools and Public Health Centres by the end of 2012. Disclosing this on Tuesday, the country's Minister of Communication and IT A Raja, however, regretted that the telecom growth in rural areas has not kept pace with that in urban areas. 'The government is working hard to correct this imbalance by shifting focus to small towns and rural areas, but it has still to go a long way in bridging the rural urban divide,' he said at a function here.
Raja further stated that the government's decision to allot licences to more operators was directed at raising competition, lowering tariffs and enhancing rural tele-density. He hoped that the current provision of over 7,000 mobile towers and future projects of over 11,000 towers with Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) support will drastically change the mobile telephony scenario in rural India. Stating that connecting rural India is the next biggest opportunity before the telecom sector, the Minister called upon the industry to play a catalytic role in taking the telecom revolution to rural and remote areas.