Phase 2 of 34000 crore BharatNet begins today

DoT to organise conference to showcase utilisation models leveraging Bharat Net infrastructure

The companies that will be working with the government on last-mile connectivity include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio, among others.

RJio has paid a subscription fee of Rs 13 crore, Airtel Rs 5 crore, Vodafone Rs 11 lakh while Idea has paid Rs 5 lakh for buying bandwidth.

Similarly, Reliance Jio has said it will provide services to 30,000 Global Positioning System, while Vodafone and Idea are to adopt 2,000 and 1,000 Global Positioning System, respectively.

Under second phase, the telecom ministry seeks to connect about 1.5 lakh gram panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibre and provide bandwidth to telecom players at almost 75% discount for broadband and wifi services in rural areas. "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.

It is learnt that Airtel has already set up 4G BTSs (base tower stations) in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and is providing high speed 4G mobile broadband services to people through BharatNet.

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha, along with law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar will be launching the project.

With BharatNet Phase I operational, state governments will be sharing their plans for leveraging the broadband infrastructure. More than 85,000 Global Positioning System are service-ready now and 75,000 Global Positioning System can start providing services to the villages now, he added.

The government aims to bridge digital divide in rural and remote areas of the country by providing affordable broadband at minimum 100 Mbps speeds through robust network infrastructure through the Rs 45,000crore Bharat Net programme, which was earlier known as National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN). Current weekly performance of Optical Fibre laying at 1545 kilometres.

For instance, Airtel has promised to adopt 30,500 Global Positioning System to connect its 4G broadband network using BharatNet's optical fibre.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is also in the process of partnering with state governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand. These states have come up with their own model for implementing BharatNet. She said around Rs 4.5 lakh crore value can be added to the national gross domestic product on completion of BharatNet phase 2 as a study has suggested that every 10% usage of Internet in India drives up GDP by 3.3%. Power Grid Corporation of India has been awarded contract for three states - Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha. Under BharatNet phase 2, around 6-7 lakh Wi-fi hotspots will be added with 2-5 hotspots in each panchayat.

Also additional funding of Rs 3,600 crore will be given to telcos for rolling out Wi-Fi in villages.

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