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Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Govt set to launch Rs34,000-cr second phase of BharatNet

Govt set to launch Rs34,000-cr second phase of BharatNet

The target is to connect 150,000 gram panchayats by March 2019.

Under the project, the government aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibre and give bandwidth to telecom players at almost 75% cheaper price for broadband and Wi-Fi services in rural areas.

Private telecom players including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have shown interest in offering the last-mile connectivity.

BharatNet project received in-principle approval from the telecom commission on April 30, 2016 with an aim to connect all 2.50 lakh gram panchayats in the country and give non-discriminatory access of the network to all the telecom service providers.

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha, law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar and Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi announced commencement of the second phase in an event in the national capital. The last mile connectivity to citizens was proposed to be provided creating Wi-Fi hotspots in gram panchayats.

Memorandums of understanding will also be signed with states for implementation of BharatNet Phase-II.

With BharatNet Phase I operational, state governments will be sharing their plans for leveraging the broadband infrastructure.

By December 2017, all 1, 00, 000 Global Positioning System will be operational on the BharatNet infrastructure.

Sundararajan said the total project cost of BharatNet was around Rs 45,000 crore, of which Rs11,200 crore have been used for the first phase.

He said that by December-end, one-lakh gram panchayats (GPs) will be ready to offer services.

Under the Phase I, 1 lakh Global Positioning System or 3 lakh villages were connected. A memorandum of understanding was signed IT department principal secretary Jayesh Ranjan and Telangana Fibre Grid Corporation MD Sujai Karampuri with Union IT ministry officials on Monday.

BSNL will roll out optical fibre in yet to be covered locations of eight states - Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim - which were not covered under the first phase of BharatNet.

Also additional funding of Rs 3,600 crore will be given to telcos for rolling out Wi-Fi in villages.

The project was earlier called the National Optical Fibre Network and was approved by the previous government in October 2011.

With the subsidies, telecom operators can make use of the existing optic fibre connection to build Wi-Fi hotspots and deliver wireless internet service sooner in the villages without burdening the users with premium charges.

"Under BharatNet Phase II, around 6-7 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots will be added with two-five hotpsots in each panchayat. We expect telecom operators to provide at least 2 megabit per second speed to rural households".

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