Goa has unveiled plans for a super-ambitious broadband network project to build a state that's "enabled by IT to be efficient and accountable with a global thinking approach".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the Goa Broadband Network (GBBN) on Friday amid both expectations and apprehensions as to how exactly the project will work and at what cost.
Official statements here said the broadband network - earlier christened Goa Net - would provide privileges to the citizen that include information services on education, healthcare, agriculture, welfare, entertainment and interactive services like IP telephony, video conferencing.
In addition, transactional services will be provided like e-governance services and B2C (business-to-citizen) services.
GBBN connectivity will be given to around 280 government offices, including municipalities, collectorate and state secretariat, promising their enhanced efficiency.
Lauding the project, the prime minister said: "This pioneering project is an important milestone in the use of modern telecommunications and IT capabilities for improving public services and also the quality of lives."
Singh praised the private-public partnership to build this project, saying it was based on a "viable business model".
"Investment in knowledge and in knowledge tools is therefore going to be the key success factor for individuals or regions or nations. I am happy that a state like Goa has realised the significance of this. The Goa Broadband Network is a first step in positioning your state for the future," Singh said.
"As the program scales up from the 10 Citizen Service Centres today to over 200 by the end of next year, it will generate substantial revenues which will meet a major portion of the costs," Singh said.
But others are more sceptical. Samir Kelekar, a US-educated engineer now based in Bangalore, said: "I am hosting internet servers in the US which promise a 10Mbs pipe for $70 (Rs 2, 700) a month. It has limits on how much bytes can be transferred. Now, if I can get (as promised) a 10 Mbps pipe at Rs 250 a month, I could host things in Goa. Am I missing something?"
Goa had earlier attempted to build a project of Mahiti Ghars, offering access to government data through private intermediaries. While the government has claimed a success over these, questions were raised over how the partners were selected and whether these brought in the promised benefits.