BharatNet project Current Affairs - 2019

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All panchayats to have Broadband Connectivity by March 2020: Govt

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.

Key Highlights

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.

Progress Made:

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.

TRAI proposes Wi-Fi grid to bring down cost of internet by 90%

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed concept of open architecture-based public Wi-Fi grid to bring down the cost of internet by 90%. It is much needed as broadband proliferation across country is important pillar of Digital India and Wi-Fi serves as cheapest option given low cost of equipment and free spectrum.

Key Facts

The Wi-Fi grid or mesh proposed by TRAI entails various providers coming together to address aspects like services, access, payment, and authentication. Its recommendations are backed by findings of pilot project conducted by regulator. TRAI’s pilot and trials were aimed at demonstrating proof of concept of such architecture. It has suggested that any entity – company, proprietorship or non-entities – should easily be able to set up a public Wi-Fi access point.

Significance

The latest recommendations of TRAI follow BharatNet project being pursued by Central government that intends to provde Wi-Fi services to village panchayats across the country. Government has completed its first phase and expects the project to be completed by 2019.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

TRAI is an independent regulator of telecommunications business in India. It was established in 1997 through Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. TRAI also fixes or revises the tariffs for telecom services in India. TRAI also fixes or revises the tariffs for telecom services in India.