India’s Department of Telecommunications has unveiled a proposal to build a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) as part of the government’s larger goal of expanding broadband connectivity to 160 million users nationwide by 2014. Announced last Friday, the US$4.5 billion project would be financed through the nation’s Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which provides grants for the expansion of telecom infrastructure into rural areas. In comments to the press, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal proclaimed that the NOFN is intended to extend broadband connectivity from the district level to the village, or gram panchayat, level. Sibal also predicted that the NOFN “will enable effective and faster implementation of various mission mode e-governance projects amounting to approximately 500 billion Indian rupees (US$11.25 billion) initiated by the Department of Information Technology as well as delivery of a whole range of electronic services . . . by the private sector to citizens in rural areas.” Although the government will own the NOBN, it will be shared with commercial carriers that are also expected to contribute additional funding that will compliment the projected USOF outlay. The project requires the approval of India’s cabinet before a government-sponsored special purpose vehicle can be established to assume responsibility for network construction.