Internet for our villages
Apropos of the column “Virtues of unlicensed spectrum” (May 18), solving last-mile problem to the satisfaction of public has always been a tough challenge for the government in any project, whether it is transport, water or telecom. The ambitious NOFN project of government is already running behind schedule. Its completion will bring internet up to the panchayat level. The next step will be to make it accessible to the public in rural areas in a cost effective manner. The Wi-Fi option of using the 100 MHz unlicensed spectrum in 5.8 GHz band to solve the last-mile problem appears to be an attractive option. However its implementation will require setting up of Wi-Fi relay stations with related equipment in every village, with constant power supply and maintenance. This will need a lot of land which will have to be acquired by the government from the farmers. With the current raging controversy over the land acquisition bill, the chances of successfully implementing this solution of Wi-Fi for rural areas appear to be bleak. The government should explore other options. Accessibility of internet and telephony using copper land-line has been a well-proven technology in both rural and urban areas for quite some time now. Laying of copper lines will only require digging without the need of land acquisition. Since villages are clusters with less population and small area, taking the copper line from panchayat level to each household will not be that difficult. This will solve many other problems also like requirement of constant power supply, setting up of many relay stations, purchasing costly smartphones by poor villagers, etc. Putting all of one’s eggs in the same basket has never been a good idea.
This refers to the report “A long road ahead for GST” (May 16). The author has pointed out very well the current movement towards GST and how it is worthwhile for the economy as well as industry to adopt a comprehensive tax system. It was first announced in the 2007, and now, in 2015, we are still in suspense over whether we will manage to have it by April 2016. There is no draft of the GST law in the public domain though various business representatives have pressed for the same to prepare themselves well in advance. It would be better for the industry to have some insight on the legislation In such a short span of time, it would be a challenge for the government to have the law drafted and ready for implementation. At the same time, it would also be impossible for the industry to be prepared for the proposed GST law.
NK Gupta, Delhi
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