Aimed at reaching 10-crore broadband subscribers by 2014, mainly in rural areas, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on Wednesday joined hands with HCL Infosystems to launch the ‘National Broadband Penetration Programme’ (NBPP), a nationwide initiative to accelerate proliferation of information technology.

The ambitious NBPP project aims to accelerate personal computers and broadband penetration by offering a complete solution and creating new markets, targeting rural and remote areas. The project would utilise the Department of Telecom’s ‘universal services obligation fund’ (USOF) which has granted a subsidy to BSNL for providing wireline broadband connectivity in rural and remote areas. USOF will be providing a subsidy of Rs. 4,500 per broadband connection that BSNL will be issuing through its existing 27,789 rural and remote telephone exchanges.

Addressing a press conference here, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Kuldeep Goyal said: “This initiative will help end the digital divide in the country. Under the programme, BSNL and HCL will provide complete PC solution to its customers at a nominal payment of Rs. 2,250, followed by Rs. 300 a month for the PC and subsidised monthly broadband package at Rs. 99 or Rs. 150”.

According to HCL Infosystems Chairman and CEO Ajai Chowdhry, “Their innovative service and support initiative, HCL Touch, will provide strength to the NBPP programme. HCL Touch has a network that reaches out to over 4,000 towns and delivers services in 11 regional languages. We will also set up two call centres with toll free numbers, one for enquiry and the other for technical support, to help our customers”.

Speaking on the occasion, USOF Administrator Ajay Bhattacharya lauded the initiative and urged other players to come up with more such partnerships so that benefits of broadband could reach every citizen. He hoped that it would not only support inclusive growth but also contribute to economic growth and development.

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