BharatNet 2: Central government will sign MoUs with the states

Image source Fabio Lanari via Wikimedia commons

The aim of BharatNet Phase I was to provide fibre connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats.

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

According to the Ministry, DoT is organising the conference with state governments and service providers "to brainstorm and showcase various utilisation models leveraging BharatNet infrastructure" and IT Ministers and IT Secretaries from states will be present.

Reliance Jio paid the highest advance subscription fee of Rs 13 crore to provide broadband services at 30,000 gram panchayats, with a commitment to buy bandwidth in every panchayat from the government as it expands the project.

Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, along with IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi announced the commencement of phase-II of the project here.

"BharatNet Phase I is 90 per cent completed. We will tomorrow launch Phase II of BharatNet to connect 1.5 lakh gram panchayats (GP) with high-speed broadband by March 2019", Sundararajan told reporters here. The government is also using rugged and low-maintenance equipment manufactured domestically and technology developed by state-sponsored Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT).

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan further asked state government to send list of unconnected villages in their jurisdiction so that all of them can be connected by 2020.

The DoT had significantly increased the pace of implementation during the last six months to complete Phase I. Under BharatNet Phase I, Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connectivity has reached in over 1, 00, 000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) across different States in the country.

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

The total project cost is around Rs 42,000 crore of which around Rs 11,000 crore have been invested in the first phase.

These states will roll out the project on their own with partial funding from the central government.

"India, at present, has 38,000 Wi-fi hotspots".

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.

The project, then called the National Optical Fibre Network, was approved by the previous UPA government in October 2011.

"Under BharatNet Phase II, around 6-7 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots will be added with two-five hotpsots in each panchayat". Some of the Wi-fi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially.