In a bid to connect around 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through broadband, the government has given nod to the second phase of the BharatNet project. Also, officials have pushed back the deadline to March 2019 for the roll out. The Cabinet has approved a budget of Rs 42,068 crore for the program. Out of the total budget, a sum of Rs 18,792 crore will be allocated for the second phase under the Output-Outcome Framework for Schemes 2017. Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needyAlso Read - Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Long-term Review
During the second phase, end-to-end implementation of the BharatNet project will be spread across states including public and private sector companies, suggests an Economic Times report citing sources close to the matter. For the uninitiated, the BharatNet programme by the government promises to bring rural and remote areas on India onto a digital platform. Under the government’s scheme, affordable broadband with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps will be made available to the rural and remote regions. BharatNet connectivity program is supplemented by a scaled up network infrastructure, formerly known as the National Optical Fibre Network. Also Read - OnePlus India partners American Express for cashback deals, EMI offers and more
BharatNet is funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund and the first phase was allocated Rs11,148 crore to connect 1,00,000 gram panchayats in the country. On the other hand, the now allocated Rs18,792 crore will be spent to bring broadband connectivity to another 1,5o,ooo gram panchayats in the second phase. As per sources quoted by Mint, the BharatNet rural India broadband plan puts Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s fibre optics in use to establish a connection between a block and a gram panchayat. ALSO READ: India s internet user base increased by 60 million in 2016: TRAI
The report further tells that the leftover amount from the total budget will be spent on maintenance and replacement of BSNL s poor quality fibre. However, BharatNet is not going to be limited to use of underground laying fiber optics. Per reports, the program will utilize both aerial and underground fibre optics to make various e-commerce initiatives available to citizens via the high-speed broadband connectivity. ALSO READ: 8 Google Chrome extensions that will improve your internet browsing experience
As per initial announcements made by the government, it aimed to make the high-speed broadband connectivity available across 1,00,000 gram panchayats in the country by March 2017. Subsequently, the deadline for the rest of the 150,000 panchayats was set for the year 2018. A look at the analytics tells that till January 29, the optical fiber has been laid in about 76,089-gram panchayats. Further, 16,355 gram panchayats have already been provided the promised broadband connectivity.