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Rs 37-bn panchayat wifi plan by Mar '19, IMG to meet today

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MUMBAI: The central government is drafting an ambitious Rs 37-billion plan so as to cover around 5.5 lakh villages with wifi facility for all panchayats by March 2019, a senior Department of Telecom official has said. Also, data shared by the telecom minister Manoj Sinha showed that internet service has started in 33,430 gram panchayats as of 6 September.

The inter-ministerial panel (IMG) of the Telecom Commission is scheduled to meet on Friday to consider phase-2 of BharatNet project under which 1.5 lakh GPs are to be covered with high speed broadband network.

   

This month, the government expected to put out a tender for 2.5 lakh GPs (gram panchayats) to be covered so that 5.5 lakh villages would have had access to mobile broadband, the telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said, PTI reported.

The government expects to start broadband services with about 1,000 megabit per second (1 gbps) across 1 lakh gram panchayats by 2017-end.

Earlier, the plan was to provide 100 megabit per second connectivity to village panchayats, but, under the new BharatNet, the broadband speed has been enhanced 10 times to one gigabit per second at every panchayat level.

One lakh wifi will used under BharatNet service. The other 1.5 lakh need not be on BharatNet from Day 1. Once BharatNet was completed, the government planned to integrate all wifi backward with BharatNet, Sundararajan said.

At download speed of 1 gbps, an user can theoretically download a video equivalent to the size of a general Bollywood movie in about 2 seconds.

Under the new policy, the government will focus on linking some 40,000 villages and increase availability of regular Internet access facility to 70 crore people, from 30 crore, by 2022.

The secretary pointed out the pace of implementing BharatNet had accelerated by seven times in the last one month. Earlier, 150 installations a day were being done.

As of July 2017, 2,21,925 kilometres of optical fibre cable (OFC), covering 1,00,299 gram panchayats, were laid and 25,426 GPs provided with broadband connectivity.

The government, Sundararajan said, has already completed optical fibre rollout in one lakh GPs and is installing electronic equipment for commissioning of broadband services.

The department has crossed 61,000 GPs where electronic (equipment) have been installed. In the next 2-3 months, it will complete the installation as well as integration to the network. The network for one lakh GPs will be functional before the end of this year.

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