All Gram Panchayats Gets Internet Connection By October 2018
The internet services are expected to be provided to about 2.5 lakh of Gram Panchayats by October 2018 under Bharat Net program, the government informed Lok Sabha, adding that the internet connectivity was given to strengthened and promote less cash economy. The conference was held on the occasion of the annual general meeting of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
Ravi Shankar Prasad, IT Minister, said that the National Optical Fibre Network project, renamed as BharatNet, was one among of the pillars of the program, and through it, the government has planned to provide a network infrastructure by connecting all the 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats through OFC. Mr.Prasad also said that a state-of-the-art Internet, future-proof network, including fiber between the districts and blocks and with the 5G services and Internet of Things era with underground OFC in ring architecture, has planned and would be completed by 2023.
One lakh Gram Panchayats in the country are to be connected by underground Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) by March this year under the government’s Digital India Programme as the first phase of Bharat Net project. P P Chaudhary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said while replying to the questions on behalf of Manoj Sinha, the Minister of State for Communications who was not present in the House. He also stated that this would be done through a mix of underground fiber cables, fiber over power lines, radio and satellite media and providing the broadband connectivity by all categories of service providers on a non-discriminatory basis.
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A written reply by Sinha sais that the low internet penetration could affect the Digital India initiatives. The e-governance services would not be accessible by the people in the country in the absence of internet facility.
J.S. Deepak, Telecom Secretary said in New Delhi at a round table conference on the topic ‘Data Connectivity for the next Billion’ that by October 2018, the plan was to finish its coverage in all gram panchayats with Wi-Fi as the last mile solution. He also said that the Bharat Net initiative was committed to taking the optical fiber to each gram panchayat in the country for the next three years. Under the program, Wi-Fi connection would be provided, with a viability finding a kind of approach, to each and every citizen at the cost of about Rs. 100 per month, he added.
“As the first phase of the program, by March 2017, we would have covered 1,00,000 Gram panchayats with the internet connectivity of 80-100 Mbps with the last mile Wi-Fi, hotspot kind of end-user possibility to make the data available for those who don’t have access to it,” he said.
“During the next phase of the plan (Bharat Net), with overhead fiber, underground fiber, radio satellite, the use of state government agency, especially with the power distribution companies, the plan was to finish the coverage of all gram panchayats,” he added.
As on January 29, 2017, 76,089 Gram Panchayats has provided with the Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) with a total length of 1,72,257 kilometers. As many as 16,355 Gram Panchayats has been provided with Wifi broadband connectivity. In his written reply, Sinha also said that the augmentation of telecom infrastructure was to provide internet services in cities and towns that were left to the telecom service providers for their commercial decision. It was expected that the competition in the market would drive them to roll out networks that provide a better internet service, he added.
While Gopal Vittal, managing director and CEO of Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia) who was elected as the new COAI chairman while Sunil Sood, MD, and CEO of Vodafone India took over as its vice chairman. On occasion, COAI has also released its annual report for 2015-16 that said the wireless broadband services would cover about 800 million Indians by the end of 2020 along with the current 250 million.