Government launches BharatNet phase 2 project

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Broadband connectivity in all panchayats will be key growth enabler specially in the field of education, the govt said.

Government today launched its second and final phase of BharatNet project meant to provide high-speed broadband service in all Gram Panchayats by March 2019.

Additionally, the Department of Telecom requested all states to provide a list of unconnected villages so that all of them can be connected with telecom services by 2020.

According to informed sources here, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar will be present at the conference on Monday.

"Under the project, we will provide 1 gbps (gigabuit per second) bandwidth capacity at panchayat level".

The Bharatnet project covering all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats was divided into Phase-1 and Phase-2.

BharatNet Phase I is set to complete by the end of 2017. 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 progress of service readiness has picked up to such an extent that in October 2017 around 25,000 gram panchayats have already been made service ready".

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He said that by December-end, one-lakh gram panchayats (GPs) will be ready to offer services. "We are now dreaming of digital board and the connectivity (through BharatNet) will transform entire nation", he said.

The TSPs will be providing last-mile connectivity in villages (fibre to home) after taking the broadband fibre from BharatNet at the Global Positioning System.

BharatNet, earlier known as National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, is part of Narendra Modi government's Digital India initiatives, which also include setting up of SWAN (State Wide Area Network) for government offices and NKN (National Knowledge Network) for all educational institutes.

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.

Under the Phase II, the government plans to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh km of additional optical fibre.

It also said that service providers like Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea have shown interest in participating in BharatNet.

MoUs were also signed between the DoT and seven States: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand and Gujarat. To expedite the rollout of the second phase, the central government will also be providing partial funding to the local governments of these states. "We will initially cover 30,000 village panchayats and will set up nodals in every panchayat as the government expands BharatNet", said Mahendra Nahata, Director, Reliance Jio.

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