The government has completed the first phase of the BharatNetprogramme, having connected 1 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) with optic fibre, telecom minister Manoj Sinha said, and hoped that the second phase to connect to 1.5 lakh more GPs will be completed before time by December this year.
“101,370 gram panchayats (village blocks) are service ready as of December 28, 2017, while the second phase has already been initiated with eight states doing at their own,” Sinha said to ET Telecom.
Some 2.55 lakh km of optic fibre cable (OFC) has been laid so far, according to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), as a part of scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to offer on-demand Internet services to rural India.
The minister also said a dialogue with telecom service providers was fruitful as the companies had committed to provide services to 70,000 village blocks by using the optic fibre network of BharatNet and ensuring low tariffs.
The DoT had in November last received an advance payment of Rs 18 crore from service providers.
The second phase of the programme is slated to connect the remaining 1.5 lakh village blocks by March 2019 and also talks about ensuring broadband delivery through satellite at 5,300 locations, radio communications and aerial fibre via electric poles in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
“Rural India will get benefit of technology advancement and it (BharatNet) will facilitate direct and indirect employment opportunities for many and can contribute to the inclusive growth of India,” the minister said.
The government, according to him, is also planning to reward good performers by way of putting financial incentives for motivation and disincentives for those missing the deadline or poor show.
Sundararajan and Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund administrator Sanjay Singh are likely to take a joint call on how to incentivize BharatNet stakeholders for their performance.
Stating that the tender process for the second phase has already started, Sundararajan said state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has floated its tenders.