National Knowledge Network
The National Knowledge Network (NKN) is a revolutionary state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-Indian resource-sharing network aimed at digitally connecting all national universities, colleges and research establishments to create ‘country-wide virtual classrooms’. According to professor S V Raghavan, chairman, technical advisory committee, NKN, “to begin with 1,200 major institutions including the IITs, CSIR laboratories, space research and atomic energy institutions will be connected digitally. The infrastructure bandwidth will facilitate high speed classroom sessions. You can even transmit satellite television programmes using the facility. With just 4 megabit connectivity an institution can simultaneously conduct up to 250 classroom sessions.”
The seamless integration provided by the high capacity NKN digital connectivity will help the academic and research community to establish countrywide classrooms, multicasting, streaming, video and voice conferencing, grid computing, digital libraries and collaboration portals. A professor from the IIT may not have the time to visit a rural college to deliver a guest lecture. Also not every institution may have the financial resources to arrange for guest faculty visits from premier research organisations.
Interestingly, this revolutionary bandwidth connectivity has been put in place by using the extensive Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) networks of the BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL). In fact, Raghavan describes the underground OFC network as “the buried treasure of the nation” which has now come in handy to create “an exciting win-win situation” through a co-ownership pattern where the network operators stand to gain by selling additional bandwidth, while it facilitates knowledge sharing for educational institutions. The NKN was a joint initiative of the National Knowledge Commission and the union government. This network has the capacity to connect as many as 30,000 to 40,000 universities and colleges.