India: Centre launches BharatNet phase 2 project

To provide high-speed broadband service in all Gram Panchayats by March 2019, the Centre today launched its second and final phase of the BharatNet project. It will be implemented at an outlay of around 34 thousand crore rupees.

Communication Minister Manoj Sinha, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Modi and IT ministers of different states launched this at a function in New Delhi.

Department of Telecommunications (DoT) today signed MoUs with states for the implementation of the second phase of BharatNet. Under this phase, broadband connectivity will be provided in remaining 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats in the country.

Under the project, connection points or exchange for optical fibre will be set up at each panchayat. Thereafter, carriers can buy connection or bandwidth from the government to sell the same in rural areas.

Broadband infrastructure on Optical Fibre network has been made available in more than one lakh Gram Panchayats as part of BharatNet Phase-1, and by December this year, all these Panchayats will be operational on the BharatNet infrastructure.

Almost 90 thousand installations have been completed, and broadband services are expected to commence in 80 thousand Gram Panchayats soon.

The government has proposed a subsidy of Rs 3,600 crore to private telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio through viability gap funding, for setting up Wi-Fi in rural areas as part of the second phase of the BharatNet project, set for a launch Monday.

With Phase 1 of BharatNet set to complete by the end of 2017 – which will give fibre connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats at an investment of Rs 11,200 crore – the government intends to double the fibre to 20 lakh km by March 2019 under phase 2 of the project, with an overall investment of Rs 34,000 crore.

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