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14 November 2017, 05:29 | Brandon Parsons
Signing of MoU on cards for implementation of BharatNet Phase II
The MoUs were signed during the national conference on "BharatNet" for launch of Phase-II in New Delhi on Monday in the presence of Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of State for Communication Manoj Sinha, and other top dignitaries. The first phase to connect 100,000 gram panchayats is already underway, and after much delays will be completed by the end of this year. Telecom majors like Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea have also expressed interest in contributing to the development of BharatNet Infrastructure. Private telecom firms will use this money for setting up WiFi in rural areas. By December 2017, all aforementioned Gram Panchayats will be operational on the BharatNet infrastructure.
Nearly 90 thousand installations have been completed and broadband services are expected to commence in 80 thousand Gram Panchayats soon. "All 1 lakh panchayats under first phase will be ready for broadband by the end of December", Sinha said.
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.
The Telecom Ministry has signed MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with seven states, who will roll out Phase II of BharatNet on their own with partial funding from the central government.
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State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will roll out optical fibre in eight states - Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, and Power Grid Corporation of India in three states - Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha, the telecom secretary said. "So (we) will provide viability gap funding of around Rs3,600 crore to telecom operators". Some of the Wi-Fi hotspots may not be commercially viable initially.
Unlike the first phase, the government is keen to finish the second stage and has strategised to lay underground fibre and aerial fibre depending on the area. The Centre will provide total fund support of around Rs 10,000 crore to the state governments.
With the subsidies, telecom operators can make use of the existing optic fibre connection to build Wi-Fi hotspots and deliver wireless internet service sooner in the villages without burdening the users with premium charges.
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