Government launches BharatNet phase 2 project

Government launches BharatNet phase 2 project

The second phase of BharatNet project with an outlay of Rs 31,000 crore and a mandate to provide high-speed broadband to all panchayats by March 2019 got off the block today.

Sinha said the government has slashed bandwidth price under the BharatNet project 75%, which will help telecom operators provide services at affordable rates.

BharatNet Phase I is set to complete by the end of 2017.

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

The Centre has allotted Telangana state Rs 1,243 crore for the implementation of BharatNet Phase-2.

Additionally, the Department of Telecom requested all states to provide a list of unconnected villages so that all of them can be connected with telecom services by 2020. The first phase to connect 100,000 gram panchayats is already underway, and after much delays will be completed by the end of this year.

The DoT had significantly increased the pace of implementation during the last six months to complete Phase I, and by December 2017, all 1, 00, 000 gram panchayats will be on the BharatNet infrastructure. As of today, nearly 90,000 installations have been completed and Services are expected to commence in 80,000 Global Positioning System shortly.

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Under the Phase II, the government plans to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh km of additional optical fibre.

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.

"With BharatNet India is expecting to double fibre optic connectivity across the country from 1 million kilometre to 2 million kilometres", Sundararajan said.

MoUs were also signed between the DoT and seven States: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand and Gujarat.

Under the phase 2, 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 per cent cheaper price for broadband and wifi services in rural areas.

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.

Sundararajan said there are already around 38,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the country now. Under BharatNet Phase I, the government has set up 15,000 wi-fi hotspots, of which around 11,000 are in rural areas and the rest in semi-rural areas. Some of the Wi-fi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially.

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