BharatNet project Current Affairs - 2020
On December 25, 2019, Union Minister of Communication and IT Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated “Digital Village Guruwara”. During the launch, it was announced that the Government has planned to offer free Wi-Fi services to all villages till March 2020.
The Government of India has so far connected 1,30,000-gram panchayats through Bharatnet. More than 50,000 Gram Panchayat are yet to be connected. The government is working under the current target that at least 15% of villages are to be digitalized in next four years. The free Wi-Fi services are being announced under Bharatnet project.
The GoI in June 2018 announced that all gram panchayats will receive broadband connectivity by 2020. However, the connectivity has been made free now.
The initiative was launched in 2011. Under the initiative, 100 Mbps speed internet were to be provided to around 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats. The aim is to increase their speed to around 2 to 20 Mbps in the future to all households in rural areas.
The project is a National Optical Fibre Network project. It is seen as a major initiative in order to succeed Digital India. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Telecommunications.
Tags: BharatNet • BharatNet project • broadband • Digital India • Digital Village
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister Electronics and Information Technology in a written reply in Lok Sabha informed Parliament that all gram panchayats will be provided high speed broadband connections under BharatNet project by March 2020.
As per the government, as of today 128870 gram panchayats have been connected with optical fibre under BharatNet Project.
In Phase I of BharaNet project government connected 1 lakh gram panchayats and the Phase II of project is under implementation, and a total of 2 lakh GPs (gram panchayats) are targeted to be completed by March 2020.
Background: On 19 July 2017 Union Cabinet approved a modified strategy for implementing BharatNet under which, remaining 1,50,000 (approx.) Gram Panchayats in India are to be provided broadband connectivity in Phase-II of the project. The government has set target date to complete roll out of optical based high speed broadband network across all panchayats as March 2019 which was later modified to 2020 following the delay.
Delay: in initial implementation of project was on account of delay in initial commencement of project as the work on BharatNet project began in 2nd half of 2014 due to field survey of GPs and pilot testing of technology model.
In NER (north east region), gram panchayats are located in widely expansive hilly and remote areas and the monsoon season is also very long which creates a problem too. Also only underground optical fibre cable have been used to cover all panchyats.
Empowered Committee: This issue of delay has been resolved since May 2016 with constitution of empowered committee under Telecom Secretary, Steering Committee under USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) administrator and state committee under Chief General Manager (CGM), BSNL.
What is BharatNet?
The project seeks to provide affordable last mile high speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country.
Nodal Ministry: for implementation of project is Ministry of Communication.
Objective: to facilitate delivery of e-governance, e-education, e-health, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.
Funding: It is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF).
Mandate: It was set up to improve telecom services in rural and remote areas of country.
Till date Wifi spots have been installed in 44,140 gram panchayats.
Project’s Phase I was completed in December 2017 and 1 lakh gram panchayats were made service ready.
Phase II is under implementation with the target of covering a total of 2 lakh gram panchayats by March 2020.