6. India needs to invest in creating a broadband infrastructure to facilitate movement of data.
While we marvel at the telecom revolution in India, we should not forget that it has been restricted only to voice services. The real data revolution has been still-born because of lack of proper broadband infrastructure in India. Gov 2.0 is all about opening up data and getting participation from outside the government. For this, we need a broadband (wireline and wireless) envelope across the country.
To make this happen, we need to do a serious rethink on two key policies. The first involves the virtual monopoly BSNL has on the last-mile to our homes. This needs to be opened up to allow last-mile access to private players. Today, the cost of creating an alternate landline infrastructure for private players is too high. While wireless is one solution, it cannot match the bandwidth that wireline access provides.
The second policy involves wireless spectrum. To make short-term money and create funds for social sector spending, the government has created an artificial spectrum scarcity. We need much more intelligent thinking around spectrum – involving the use of cognitive radio and white spaces. And needless to say, the policy making process needs to be future-looking and transparent.