Budget 2018: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced Rs 10,000-crore outlay for the 2018-19 fiscal on the expansion of telecom infrastructure under various government projects in the country. “I have provided Rs 10,000 crore in 2018-19 for creation and augmentation of this telecom infrastructure,” Jaitley said in his Union Budget 2018 speech while referring to work done under government’s Bharat Net project. The Bharat Net project aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by March 2019. “The task of connecting 1 lakh gram panchayats with high speed optic fibre network has been completed under Phase 1 of Bharat Net program. This has enabled broadband access to cover…rural Indians in about 2.5 lakh villages. The government also proposed to set up 5 lakh wifi hotspots which will provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens,” Jaitley said.
He said that to harness benefit of emerging technologies, particularly 5th generation technology and its adoption, the Department of Telecom will support the establishment of indigenous 5G centres with IIT Chennai. In a move to push adoption and development of new digital technologies in the country like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT), the finance minister announced allocation Rs 3,073 crore for the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
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“To invest in research training, and skilling in robotics, AI, digital manufacturing, big data intelligence, quantum communications and art of the things, the DST will launch a mission on cyberspace in support of the establishment of a centre of excellence. I have doubled their allocation on the digital India program to Rs 3,073 crore in 2018-19,” Jaitley said.
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He said that the global economy is transforming into digital economy due to the development of cutting-edge technology in the digital space-machine learning, AI, IoT, 3D printing and likes.
“Initiatives such as Digital India, start-up India, Make in India would help to establish itself as knowledge and digital society. Niti Ayog will establish a national programme to direct our efforts in the area of AI including research, and development of its applications,” Jaitley said.