PRIVATE TELECOM OPERATORS JOIN BHARATNET BANDWAGON

Eyeing huge business opportunities, private telecom operators are keen to leverage high-speed broadband network being laid under BharatNet project to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across India…

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 13, 2017: The Centre on Monday launched Phase II of BharatNet project to provide high-speed broadband connections to remaining 1.5 lakh out of 2.5-lakh gram panchayats by the end of 2019.

Leading telecom companies including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India have made advance payments to the government to hire infrastructure in gram panchayats for connecting the people living in rural parts of the country with the Internet revolution. While Reliance Jio gave Rs.13.19 crore to the government, Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have given an amount of Rs.5 crore, Rs,5 lakh and Rs.11 lakh respectively.

On the launch of Phase II of BharatNet project, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said: “The government’s commitment is to connect every panchayat with high-speed broadband connection by the end of 2019. It is an integral part of Digital India campaign…We are fast moving towards a digital future and we hope to touch several lives with it.”

Minister for Information Technology and Law Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Minister for  Human Resource Development Prakash Javdekar were also present on the occasion.

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the work on BharatNet Phase I to connect 1 lakh gram panchayats has been expedited and is expected to the completed by the end of this year. The Phase II of the project has been started with an outlay of Rs.34,000 crore.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “BharatNet is the backbone of Digital India. Indian digital economy is poised to become $1 trillion economy comprising commerce, electronics, manufacturing, e-commerce. In digital
India, there should be partnership between government and private sector. We don’t want to miss digital revolution. Digital is more for poor and under-priviledged. We are servicing all pro-poor initiatives. With BharatNet digital this divide can be bridged.”

The reason behind private operators’ enthusiasm to join hand with the government is that by  2020 around 2.5 million state-owned institutions and 5 million households are to be linked to BharatNet, and it is here that these operators see huge opportunities. Under Phase 1, optical fibre has been laid in 1.03 lakh panchayats and equipment has been installed in 85,506. Of this a little over 75,000 panchayats are service ready and services have already been opened in 47,836 panchayats.


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