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Bharat Net first phase nears completion, provides b'band to village admin

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NEW DELHI: E-commerce services, including e governance, education and even reaching television services to far flung areas will get a fillip with the completion of the first phase of Bharat Net and BSNL’s target of providing 100,000 gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by laying underground optic fibre cable (OFC) lines by the end of this month.

Bharat Net is supposed to provide broadband in urban areas but has extended its work to reach out to rural India as well. The project is a Centre-State collaborative project, with the States contributing free rights of way for establishing the OFC.

Congratulating the Communications Minister Manoj Sinha, Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) founder and chairman Rajiv Mehrotra said: “As creators of digital villages, we assure the government that we stand by the government’s vision of Digital India and are committed to helping connectivity reach rural and remote locations through initiatives such as BharatNet through indigenously developed and manufactured, sustainable wireless access technology.”

BharatNet is a project to establish a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to provide on demand affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on demand capacity to all institutions, in partnership with States and the private sector.

The entire project is being funded by Universal Sservice Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country. The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to the rural India.

The second phase will provide connectivity to all 2,50,500 grampanchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media. It is to be completed by December 2018. For success in phase-2, which will also involve laying of OFC over electricity poles, the participation of States will be important. This is a new element of the BharatNet strategy as the mode of connectivity by aerial OFC has several advantages, including lower cost, speedier implementation, easy maintenance and utilization of existing power line infrastructure. The last mile connectivity to citizens was proposed to be provided creating Wi-Fi hotspots in grampanchayats or village administration.

In the third phase from 2018 to 2023, state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fibre between districts and blocks, with ring topology to provide redundancy would be created.

Earlier in September last year, the government completed roll out of a telecom network in areas worst affected by left-wing extremism across 10 States in record time as part of a major initiative to boost development in areas dominated by Left-wing extremists.

Working with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) , Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) set up the lion’s share of the world’s largest solar-powered green mobile network in Left-wing extremist affected regions using indigenously designed and manufactured technology in a record time of less than 18 months and is now operating and managing it for a period of five years.

Around 100 districts across 10 states—Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh—are considered to be Left-wing extremists-infested areas where school buildings, roads, railways, bridges, health infrastructure and communication facilities in these areas are disrupted or sought to be disrupted.

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