BharatNet project Current Affairs

Government completes 1st phase of BharatNet project

The Union Government has announced completion of first phase of BharatNet project after successfully laying optical fibre cables (OFC) in more than 1 lakh gram panchayats. As of December 2017, 2,54,895 km of OFC has were laid covering 1,09,926 GPs out of which 1,01,370 GPs have been made service ready.

The second phase of the project was initiated in November 2017 for connecting the remaining 1.5 lakh gram panchayats. Government is expecting to preempt second phase’s original target of March 2019 by concluding it ahead of schedule by December 2018.

BharatNet project

BharatNet project forms backbone for Digital India initiative. It aims to bring high speed broadband to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre. The project was approved by Union Cabinet in 2011 as National Optical Fibre Netwok.

The objective flagship project is to provide affordable broadband services in rural and remote areas in partnership with states and the private sector. It being is implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). It is world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fibre.

Bharat Net seeks to connect all of India’s households, particularly rural areas, through demand, affordable high-speed broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps to realise the vision of Digital India. The project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF).

On completion, the project is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services for rural poor in crucial areas like health, education, livelihood, skills, e-agriculture and e-commerce. Moreover, it will generate massive employment opportunities, both direct and indirect in the country. The digital infrastructure

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Union Cabinet approves Phase II of BharatNet project

The Union Cabinet has extended the second phase of the BharatNet project that forms the backbone for the Union government’s Digital India initiative. The second phase aims at covering the remaining 1.50 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPS).

The approval entails a total estimated expenditure of Rs.42,068 crore for the implementation of project bankrolled from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Moreover, the Union Cabinet also has approved a modified implementation strategy of BharatNet project for providing broadband connectivity to all GPs by March 2019.

Background

The Centre is still working on completing the phase I of the project for which the deadline was March 2017. It was able to lay optical fibre in nearly one-lakh GPs, however, only about 22,000 GPs (22%) were provided Internet connectivity due to equipment procurement issues.

Key Facts

Compared with use of only underground optic fibre cable to establish connectivity in the phase I, in the phase II a mix of underground fibre, aerial fibre, radio and satellite media would be utilised to connect the remaining GPS.

The modified implementation strategy of BharatNet project will enable effective and faster implementation of various mission mode e-governance projects of the Union and state governments. It will facilitate electronic delivery of services to citizens of various e-commerce, e-governance, e-health services and e-education etc. thereby facilitating inclusive growth. 

BharatNet project

The Bharat Net Project is the new brand name of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) which was launched in October, 2011 to provide broadband connectivity to all 2.5 Lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre. It was renamed Bharatnet in 2015. Bharat Net is being funded through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

USOF was formed by the Central Government to help fund projects to boost connectivity in rural areas. The money for this fund comes through a ‘Universal Access Levy,’ charged from the telecom operators as a percentage of various licenses fees being paid by them.

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