Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, along with IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi announced on November 13 the commencement of phase-II of the BharatNet project.
BharatNet is a pet project of PM Narendra Modi and is the most critical part of Digital India project. It involves an expenditure of Rs 42,000 crores for the establishment of fiber optic cable throughout the country to connect about 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) by 2019.
Speaking to reporters, the Telecom Minister said the tariff rates for the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) have been brought down by 75 percent to encourage them to provide the last-mile 4G connectivity. He added, “most of the TSPs had shown interest with different revenue models and they are doing things in innovative ways.”
He said that by end-December, one lakh GPs will be ready to offer services. More than 85,000 GPs are service-ready now and 75,000 GPs can start providing services to the villages now, he added.
The TSPs will be providing last-mile connectivity in villages (fiber to the home) after taking the broadband fiber from BharatNet to the GPs.
For instance, Airtel has promised to adopt 30,500 GPs to connect its 4G broadband network using BharatNet’s optical fiber. The company says it has already set up 4G base tower stations in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and has already gone live providing high-speed 4G mobile broadband services to people through BharatNet.
Similarly, Reliance Jio has said it will provide services to 30,000 GPs, while Vodafone and Idea are to adopt 2,000 and 1,000 GPs respectively.