In a move aimed at boosting digital technology and telecommunication, the government proposes to set up five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots to provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore in 2018-19 for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced on Thursday while presenting the Budget 2018-19 in Lok Sabha.

Giving details, he said the task of connecting one lakh gram panchayats through high speed optical fiber network has been completed under phase I of the Bharatnet project. This has enabled broadband access to over 20 crore rural Indians in about 2.5 lakh villages.

The government also proposes to set up five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens. Allocation of Rs 10,000 crore has been provided in 2018-19 for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure.

“To harness the benefit of emerging new technologies, particularly the ‘Fifth Generation’ (5G) technologies and its adoption, the Department of Telecom will support establishment of an indigenous 5G Test Bed at IIT, Chennai,” Jaitley said.

Reacting to the measures announced for the telecom sector, Hemant Joshi, partner, Deloitte India, felt that it was “good for the telecom Industry. The setting up of 5G centre in collaboration with IIT Chennai would help India be an early adopter of the next generation technology rather than being a laggard.

This could be a boon for the telecom industry and guide the telecom operators to move to next-gen networks efficiently and effectively.”