High-speed broadband for all panchayats by March 2019: BharatNet phase-2 to kick off today

Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone are interested in providing services under BharatNet, according to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

Published: 13th November 2017 08:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2017 08:43 AM   |  A+A-

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and  Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar will launch the second and final phase of the BharatNet project on Monday.

According to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, the project will provide high-speed broadband in all panchayats by March 2019.  Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone are interested in providing services under BharatNet, she added. The total project cost of BharatNet is around Rs 45,000 crore, of which Rs 11,200 crore has been used for the first phase.

 “Phase 1 of the project, under which 1 lakh GPs were to be connected, will be completed by the end of this year. We expect telecom operators to provide at least 2 megabit per second speed to rural households,” Sundararajan said here on Sunday.

BSNL will roll out optical fibre in yet-to-be covered locations of Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, which were not covered under the first phase. Power Grid Corporation of India has been awarded contract for Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha.

Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand are expected to roll out the project on their own with partial funding from the central government.

According to Sundararajan, upon completion of BharatNet phase 2, the GDP would be boosted by Rs 4.5 lakh crore value as a study has suggested that every 10 per cent usage of Internet in India drives up GDP by 3.3 per cent.The government expects the second phase of BharatNet to double the existing optical fibre footprint and generate employment of 10 crore mandays during the rollout of the project.

Under this scheme, broadband services rates are expected to be low because of intensive competition in the sector. Plus, the government is offering bandwidth under the project to telecom operators at 75 per cent lower rate than they currently buy it.

The government will provide support of Rs 3,600 crore to telecom operators for rolling out wifi in villages.
The total wifi rollout cost is estimated to be around Rs 10,000 crore, she said. Under BharatNet phase 1, the government has set up 15,000 wifi hotspots of which around 11,000 are in rural areas and the rest in semi-rural.

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