Google May Bring Fiber-Based Broadband To India
Tech giant Google is in talks with the IT Ministry in India to roll out optical fiber-based broadband services. The company plans to first roll out a fiber network in a small area as a showcase project as part of the Digital India program, reads a Business Line report, which adds that the discussions are at an initial stage.
“We are keen to partner a company like Google in furthering the Digital India plan. Modalities have to be worked out,” top officials in the IT Ministry told the newspaper. One of the issues being discussed is whether Google can be allowed to do the project without having to acquire a telecom license.
Google has reportedly launched a similar program in the US called Google Fiber where it provides broadband internet and television to limited areas. The service was first introduced in Kansas City. In February 2014, Google announced that it had chosen another 34 cities as candidates for expansion.
For players like Google, internet proliferation is key if it wants to reach the next billion consumers in India. The internet giant has been continuously engaging with the Centre on various programs. Not only Google, technology giants across India and abroad are eyeing the road map for the Digital India project. The Centre has approved a blueprint for the project in August, which is expected to attract investments upward of Rs 1,00,000 crore over the next three-four years. Networking giant Cisco, for example, has earmarked $1.7 billion for investment this year in India to improve connectivity and digital growth. Microsoft too offered to partner the Indian government to connect 250,000 panchayats with broadband, and wants to offer its White Space technology, which has been launched by the company in many parts of the world, including Kenya and the US. Other players such as HP, IBM, TCS and Wirpo are also gearing up with their offerings for digital expansion.
For the current project, sources reveal, some experts from Google’s US operation are expected in India to evaluate the project, said the report.
While the key challenge in India is that most of the telecom operators are struggling under huge debt and high spectrum costs, players such as Google and Facebook have been experimenting with balloons and solar-powered drones to address the need for cost-effective connectivity. The strategy also fits the Indian Government’s vision of taking internet and digital technologies to the masses, the company said in a statement.
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