Govt set to launch Rs34,000-cr second phase of BharatNet

BharatNet 2 for high-speed broadband to all panchayats to kick off tomorrow

BharatNet broadband, which is a base for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project - Digital India - saw a rush from telecom service providers seeking to use BharatNet broadband services to provide last-mile connectivity to villages.

The Minister exhorted that every one of us-the states governments, private sector players, TSPs, Internet, Technology and Digital Services Companies, Media, Academia, Civil Society, Do-gooders, change makers to work together for making this a success.

"Most of the TSPs had shown interest with different revenue models and they are doing things in innovative ways", Sinha told reporters here, adding that the tariff rates for the Teecom Service Providers have also been brought down by 75 per cent.

Under Phase I, 1 lakh Global Positioning System or 3 lakh villages were connected.

Prasad suggested that all government offices should be connected with BharatNet.

Memorandums of understanding will also be signed with states for implementation of BharatNet Phase-II.

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The proposal for offering Rs 3600 crore subsidy to telecos assisting the government in the BharatNet project was originally presented before the Union Cabinet in July.

The telecom ministry will sign memoranda of understanding (MoU) with seven states, including Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

The aim of BharatNet Phase I was to provide fibre connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats. The Centre will provide total fund support of around Rs 10,000 crore to the state governments.

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will roll out optical fibre in eight states - Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, and Power Grid Corporation of India in three states - Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha, the Telecom Secretary said.

The National Optical Fibre Network was approved by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2011, and it was renamed to BharatNet and its progress was expedited by the current government.

"With BharatNet India is expecting to double fibre optic connectivity across the country from 1 million kilometre to 2 million kilometres", Sundararajan said. Some of the Wi-fi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially. "So (we) will provide viability gap funding of around Rs3,600 crore to telecom operators".

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