Government rolls out second and final phase of BharatNet

Kriti Mishra

internetThe government on Monday rolled out the second and final phase of the BharatNet project, which aims to provide high-speed broadband service in all Gram Panchayats by March 2019. Under the current phase, broadband connectivity will be provided in the remaining 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats in the country.

Once completed, the government believes BharatNet can add around Rs 4.5 lakh crore to the GDP.

Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha announced the event. Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar too were present at the occasion.

The project which is also aimed at bridging the digital divide between rural and urban India, got a major fillip with telecom companies like Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea expressing interest in providing last mile connectivity.

The telecom companies have signed agreements with seven states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand — to roll out the project on their own with partial funding from the central government.

Manoj Sinha told that the government has slashed bandwidth price under the project by 75 per cent which will help telecom operators provide services at affordable rates.

“Broadband services have already started in more than 48,000 villages and over 75,000 villages are ready for the services,” Sinha said.

With an outlay of around Rs 34,000 crore, the second phase, aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibres, and give bandwidth to telecom players at nearly 75% cheaper rates for broadband and wifi services in rural areas.

Broadband infrastructure on Optical Fibre network has been made available to over 1 lakh Gram Panchayats across the country as part of BharatNet Phase I.

By Dec 2017, all 1 Lakh Gram Panchayats will be operational on the BharatNet infrastructure. As of today, almost 90,000 installations have been completed and Services are expected to commence in 80,000 Gram Panchayats shortly.