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Cheaper connectivity solution for Northeast: Nagaland official

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New Delhi: To improve internet connectivity in the northeastern states of India, the Modi government is set to spend Rs 7,000 crore (nearly $1 billion) on laying a fibre optic network. Though, a solution has been devised by a senior government official from Nagaland that may not only cut costs by 75 percent but will also be more effective.

The official, K D Vizo, Nagaland’s commissioner and IT secretary, suggested an alternative technology – a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) – that can be operated from an unmanned airship or a balloon. This alternative comes at an estimated cost of Rs 1,750 crore, about 25 percent of the Rs 7,000 crore budget earmarked for the northeast out of the Rs 72,778 crore project under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN).

NOFN has the ambitious objective of providing 2,00,000 gram panchayats with internet connectivity. The project is intended to enable the government to provide e-services and e-applications nationally. A special purpose vehicle – Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) – has been created as a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the Companies Act for executing the project.

“Underground optical fibre, laid in the hilly terrain of the northeastern states, with time has become defunct following landslides and soil erosion, a common phenomenon in the area because of the loose mountainous soil,” Vizo told IANS.

Vizo was recently in Delhi to participate as a resource person in a conclave themed “Connectivity Challenges in the Northeast – Way Forward’. He emphasised that the region has already missed the first industrial revolution, but should not miss the second one, which is all about IT.

The northeastern region is entitled to a 90:10 share under the NOFN project, which is being funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

“The operating altitude of this system is normal between 17 km and 22 km from the ground because in most regions of the world this represents a layer of relatively mild wind and less turbulence. It can function as an unmanned airship or balloon and it requires only electrical power to keep it and its payload functional,” Vizo explained.

Since HAPS operates at much lower altitudes than satellites, it is possible to cover a small region like the northeastern part of India much more effectively than with a satellite. Lower altitude also means much lower link budget (hence lower power consumption) and smaller round trip delays compared to satellites, he added.

“It is a common phenomenon to see underground optical fibre hanging on trees along national and state highways in the region. In such a situation only a mixture of wireless, satellite and OFC Network can be effective,” Vizo said.

Explaining the advantages of HAPS, Vizo said: “Unlike a satellite, which once launched, does not allow for full maintenance, in the case of HAPS, it can undergo full maintenance. The cost of HAPS is only about a fourth of a normal geosynchronous Equatorial orbit (GEO) satellite.”

Vizo also urged the government to earmark a small budget under the USOF for installing of at least two such systems to cover the northeastern region with wireless broadband.

“If the northeast is to be developed in terms of IT, then the greater focus should be on wireless and satellite technologies as these can be installed faster and are more suitable for the difficult terrain in the region,” Vizo said.(IANS) (image: bandwidthplace.com)

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Northeast is Fast Emerging as the new Start-up Destination, Says Minister Jitendra Singh

Due to improvement in connectivity and transport facility in the last two years, coupled with concentrated administrative focus, more and more youngsters are now heading towards the northeastern states to venture into entrepreneurship

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Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 16, 2017 : Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh claimed that the area was fast emerging as the new start-up destination for youngsters from all over India, an official statement on Monday.

Due to improvement in connectivity and transport facility in the last two years, coupled with concentrated administrative focus, more and more youngsters are now heading towards the northeastern states to venture into entrepreneurship and take advantage of its unexplored potential, he said, according to a DoNER Ministry statement.

Citing an example, he said in certain areas of Northeast, including states like Arunachal Pradesh, “while almost 40 per cent of the fruit goes waste on account of lack of adequate storage and transport facilities, the same can be used to produce and manufacture fresh and pure fruit juice at a much more cost-effective price”.

ALSO READ Over 4,000 km of roads, highways to be constructed in northeast

During an interaction with youngsters, Jitendra Singh also pointed out that many new airports coming up at Pakyong (Sikkim), Itanagar and Shillong, which along with a time-bound plan to lay broad-gauge rail track, would bring in further ease of doing business.

“Another sector of entrepreneurship which is fast emerging in Northeast is the medical and healthcare sector.

“For years, there has been a trend for patients to shift outside the region, mostly to Kolkata or Vellore, but the encouragement given to the private corporate sector has now resulted in the opening of new hospitals within the region itself and young entrepreneurs are taking the lead,” he said. (IANS)