The Indian Government has achieved a significant milestone in its BharatNet programme, completing Phase 1 of the project with the connection of over 100,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs, or village/small town councils) across the country with a high speed optical fibre network. The landmark figure was achieved on 31st December 2017. The next phase of the BharatNet network scheme envisages delivery of high-speed broadband services in over 250,000 villages benefitting more than 200 million rural Indians.
At a ceremony marking the event, Union Minister for Communications Shri Manoj Sinha said that the vision and the mission of the country was to connect India to realise the goal of the Prime Minister’s Digital India by bridging the digital divide. Describing the BharatNet as the world’s largest rural broadband project yet created, Shri Sinha said that the project would generate massive employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly, in the country in the near future. He underlined the need to complete Phase 2 of the BharatNet well before the target date of March 2019, and so usher in a rural digital revolution by connecting 250,000 GPs with broadband networking. The Minister asked Government officials to include and enforce financial incentives facilitating the speedy execution of Phase 2 of the project, and said that the infrastructure created under BharatNet would be a national asset, accessible on a non-discriminatory basis by service providers. The project aims to provide affordable broadband services to citizens and institutions in rural and remote areas, in partnership with States and the private sector.
In a related development, indigenous networking and optical aggregation system supplier Tejas Networks reported that it had successfully completed GPON equipment installations in over 40,000 GPs as part of the BharatNet Phase 1 initiative.
According to Indian Government figures, at the end of May 2014 work on BharatNet had been started in 4,918 GPs, 358 km of Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) had been pulled, and 59 GPs were made service ready. At the end of December last year, 254,895 km of OFC had been laid covering 109,926 GPs, out of which 101,370 GPs had been made service ready.