Having completed the first phase of BharatNet project to provide broadband connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats, the Centre is expecting to preempt its original target of March 2019 for the second phase by concluding it ahead of schedule by December this year.
- BharatNet project has the mandate to provide high-speed broadband to all panchayats by March 2019
- Under BharatNet project, Modi government aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibre and give bandwidth to telecom players at nearly 75 per cent cheaper price for broadband and wifi services in rural areas.
- The total project cost of BharatNet is around Rs 45,000 crore, of which Rs 11,200 crore have been used for the first phase.
- BSNL will roll out optical fibre in eight states — Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim that were not covered under the first phase of BharatNet. Power Grid Corporation of India has been awarded contract for three states — Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha.
- The government estimates that the second phase of BharatNet will double the existing optical fibre footprint in the country and generate employment of 10 crore mandays during the rollout of the project.
- “India at present has 38,000 wifi hotspots. Under BharatNet phase 2, around 6-7 lakh wifi hotspots will be added with 2-5 hotpsots in each panchayats. Some of the wifi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially. So (we) will provide viability gap funding of around Rs 3,600 crore to telecom operators
The project is a Centre-State collaborative project, with the States contributing free Rights of Way for establishing the Optical Fibre Network. The three-phase implementation of the BharatNet project is as follows
- The first phase envisages providing one lakh gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by laying underground optic fibre cable (OFC) lines by Decmeber 2017.
- The second phase will provide connectivity to all 2,50,500 gram panchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fiber, fiber over power lines, radio and satellite media. It is to be completed by March 2019. For success in phase-2, which will also involve laying of OFC over electricity poles, the participation of states will be important. This is a new element of the BharatNet strategy as the mode of connectivity by aerial OFC has several advantages, including lower cost, speedier implementation, easy maintenance and utilization of existing power line infrastructure. The last mile connectivity to citizens was proposed to be provided creating Wi-Fi hotspots in gram panchayats
- In the third phase from 2019 to 2023, state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fiber between districts and blocks, with ring topology to provide redundancy would be created.
- As on 31.12.2017, the status of implementation of BharatNet is as under:-
– No. of GPs where OFC laying is completed : 1,09,926 GPs
– Optical Fibre Cable laid : 2,54,895 km
– Broadband Connectivity provided in GPs : 1,01,370 GPs
National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)
National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is an ambitious initiative to trigger a broadband revolution in rural areas. NOFN was envisaged as an information super-highway through the creation of a robust middle-mile infrastructure for reaching broadband connectivity to Gram Panchayats.The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) aims to connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats (GPs). To achieve this, the existing fibres of PSUs (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) were utilised and incremental fibre was laid to connect to Gram Panchayats wherever necessary. Dark fibre network thus created was lit by appropriate technology thus creating sufficient bandwidth at the Gram Panchayats.
Non-discriminatory access to the NOFN was provided to all the service providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators and Content providers to launch various services in rural areas. The NOFN project was funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
Based on NOFN experiences, newer, updated and upgraded version – BharatNet was conceived as a nation-wide broadband network.