All the gram panchayats will have the Wi-Fi connectivity by October 2018 under the Bharat Net program, a senior government official said on Monday. “By October 2018, the plan is to finish coverage of all gram panchayats with Wi-Fi as the last mile solution,” Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak said at a round table conference on the topic ‘Data Connectivity for the next Billion’. The conference was organized on the occasion of the annual general meeting of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
The Bharat Net initiative is committed to take the optical fiber to each and every gram panchayat in next three years, Deepak said. Under the program, Wi-Fi will be delivered, with a viability finding kind of approach, to each and every citizen at the price of about Rs 100 per month, he said.
“In the first phase of the program, by March 2017, we will have 100,000 gram panchayats with 80-100 mbps connectivity with a last mile Wi-Fi, hotspot kind of end-user possibility to make data available to those who do not have access to it,” he said.
“In the next phase of the plan (Bharat Net), with underground fiber, overhead fiber, radio satellite and the use of state government agency, specially the power distribution companies, the plan is to finish coverage of all gram panchayats,” he added.
On the occasion, COAI also released its 2015-16 annual report, which said that about 800 million Indians will be covered by wireless broadband services by 2020 from the current 250 million. Bharti Airtel’s managing director and CEO (India and South Asia) Gopal Vittal was on Monday elected as the new chairman of COAI while Vodafone India MD and CEO Sunil Sood took over as its vice chairman.