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To provide high-speed broadband connections to all panchayats by the end of 2019, the government has launched phase II of a BharatNet project.
The Bharatnet project covering all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats was divided into Phase-1 and Phase-2. In the last one year, the progress of phase-1 has picked up, tremendously.
Minister of Communications Manoj Sinha "We are truly moving towards a digital future. BharatNet is an integral part of Digital India. With BharatNet we hope to touch several lives."
He also informed that for 1,25,000 GPs in Phase-I, the duct/pipe has already been laid in 1,10,368 GPs, OFC laid in 1,03,275 GPs, equipment installed in 85,506 GPs, service ready in 75,082 GPs and service opened in 47,836 GPs.
Memorandum of Understanding for implementation of Phase II of BharatNet has been signed with States during the Conference. Keeping in view the Government's aim to provide affordable digital services in rural areas, the tariffs for utilizing BharatNet infrastructure have also been reduced by up to 75 percent of earlier notified tariffs. Owing to this, the Telecom companies including Airtel, Reliance Jio, Idea, and Vodafone have come forward for providing connectivity services utilizing BharatNet infrastructure.
The Telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio, handed over advance cheques to the Government during the Conference against leasing of BharatNet infrastructure. Reliance Jio paid the highest advance fee of Rs. 13 crores, Bharti Airtel shelled out Rs. 5 crore for bandwidth buys to cover 30,500 village panchayats, Vodafone Rs. 11 lakh and Idea Cellular Rs. 5 lakh.
Secretary, Department of Telecom Aruna Sundararajan said that BharatNet phase-1 is nearing its completion by December 2017, where one lakh Gram Panchayats covering 3 lakh villages will see the roll-out of broadband services. Referring to BharatNet as the world's largest rural optic fibre network, she said that Phase-2 of the project is 100 percent Made in India as from fibre to design to software everything has been spearheaded by C-DoT. The Secretary said that by 2020 about 25 lakh government institutions and 50 lakh households will be linked to BharatNet.