India’s NOFN – could it be Never Operational Fiber Network?

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In one corner of the Ramnagar village panchayat office, in Panisagar block of Tripura, is a defunct four-year-old computer. The machine, connected with a 10 mbps broadband line was supposed to bring digital services to this remote village in the north-eastern state. The broadband connection along with a set of printer-copier-fax, a high resolution camera to participate in video-conferencing, a 32-inch LCD TV and a high capacity UPS was provided free in 2012, under a pilot project of the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) roll out. Three years later, all of this lies idle, under a thick layer of dust.

Similar story unfolds 2,500 km away in Rajasthan’s Ajmer, where a tele-medicine centre at the JLN Medical College and Hospital has been non-functional for the past several months. The unit uses the broadband connectivity under the NOFN to connect with patients in Fatehgarh in Arain tehsil in Rajasthan, one of the other districts that were chosen for the pilot project. But the patients have been left in lurch after the tele-medicine equipment at Fatehgarh was stolen. “I have been sending a report every month that I am unable to connect with any patients,” says Sanjiv Maheshwari, who manages the tele-medicine unit at the JLN Hospital. “It has no equipment currently. Despite repeated reminders, things have not been restored,” he says. Read more

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Sweekar S

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