Bharatnet project: 1.5 Lakh Panchayats to be provided with Broadband connections

BharatNet

Bharatnet project: 1.5 Lakh Panchayats to be provided with Broadband connections

The MoUs were signed during the national conference on "BharatNet" for launch of Phase-II in New Delhi on Monday in the presence of Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of State for Communication Manoj Sinha, and other top dignitaries.

With the phase one of the government's ambitious all-India internet connectivity project BharatNet getting closer to completion, it has set the ball rolling for the second phase. A MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) regarding this would be soon signed between Government and private telecom firms.

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

"Most of the TSPs had shown interest with different revenue models and they are doing things in innovative ways", Sinha told reporters here, adding that the tariff rates for the Teecom Service Providers have also been brought down by 75 per cent.

Under the Phase-I, 1 lakh gram panchayats or 3 lakh villages were connected.

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

As of today, nearly 90,000 installations have been completed and services are expected to commence in 80,000 gram panchayats shortly.

Under the Phase-II, the government will establish fiber optic cables connecting mandals to gram panchayats covering 6,657 gram panchayats across Telangana State.

Seven states signed memoranda of understanding with the Centre, to be part of the project. The first phase of BharatNet will be completed by the end of the year.

State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited will roll out optical fibre in eight states, taking optical fibre connectivity in India from 10 lakh km to 20 lakh km, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said.

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

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. "So (we) will provide viability gap funding of around Rs3,600 crore to telecom operators". Some of the Wi-fi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially.

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