Satcom to revamp rural digital inclusion: A Report

Building last-mile connectivity and smoothening right of way policies, reviewing spectrum assignment, and complementing fiber rollout with new technologies such as satellite broadband, Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC), and millimeter Wave (mmWave) technologies should be the policy focus to improve rural digital inclusion, according to a new report by ICRIER.

The report, released Tuesday, said that in addition to increasing fixed-line networks, there is a need to adopt new technologies to improve network infrastructure. 

LEO satellites are relatively less expensive and do not require high signal strength while FSOC is a line-of-sight technology that is useful in providing connectivity in challenging areas where deploying traditional microwave and fiber, networks are a tricky affair. mmWave technologies via E and V bands is another way to improve digital penetration. 

Improving RoW policies is equally crucial to a smooth expansion of rural digital infrastructure, the report said. Private players have recommended making the Bharat Net program a vital public purpose status to facilitate quicker RoW approvals. Best practices like the Dig Once policy can further help in lowering costs and increasing reliability. 

The report also highlighted the role the private sector can play in catalyzing rural digital inclusion.