Government launches BharatNet phase 2 project

BharatNet 2

The government on Monday launched the second phase of the BharatNet project with an outlay of Rs 31,000 crore, aiming to bring high-speed broadband to all gram panchayats by March 2019, PTI reported.

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

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

The Telecom Ministry has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with seven states - Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

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 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.

Nearly 90 thousand installations have been completed and broadband services are expected to commence in 80 thousand Gram Panchayats soon. "All 1 lakh panchayats under first phase will be ready for broadband by the end of December", Sinha said. "It was no fun for anyone", said Telecom minister Manoj Sinha while launching the phase two of the project on Monday, accepting the challenges that the first leg of the project faced where just over 350 kms of fibre could be laid in three years before the BJP government took charge, as opposed to 3 lakh km over the last three years.

The total project cost is around Rs 42,000 crore of which around Rs 11,000 crore have been invested in the first phase. BSNL will roll out optical fibre in eight states-Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim.

BharatNet, earlier known as National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, is part of Narendra Modi government's Digital India initiatives, which also include setting up of SWAN (State Wide Area Network) for government offices and NKN (National Knowledge Network) for all educational institutes. It will also generate employment of 10 crore mandays during the project rollout.

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

The government will also give Rs3,600 crore in financial support to telecom service operators for rolling out Wi-Fi in villages. Some of the Wi-fi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially.

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