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Govt to use Satcom for rural connectivity under new BharatNet project

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    9th Nov, 2023

Context:

Under BharatNet project, the government is expected to use high-speed satellite connectivity technology as well as fixed wireless access (FWA) to connect rural areas, along with fiber connectivity. 

The revamped BharatNet project

  • The current plan is to connect 10% of the gram panchayats in remote and mountainous regions where optical fiber cable deployment is going to be difficult.
  • The target is to upgrade existing 164,000 gram panchayats connected under BharatNet phase I and phase II projects, as well as connect around 47,000 gram panchayats under the new model.
  • The revamped project involves three-level architecture – Internet leased line bandwidth to be provided at 7,269 blocks, middle-mile connectivity (block to gram panchayat) that will involve private players to operate and maintain the project for 10 years, and last mile connectivity (village to household) which is the Udyami model.
  • Network will be further expanded to connect and maintain 264,000 gram panchayats by professional agencies specialised in optical fiber networks.
  • The revamped model will involve village level entrepreneurs or Udyamis to take the fiber connections to the homes on a 50-50 revenue sharing basis. Further, these Udyamis will also be given a one-time financial incentive per fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connection under the project.

Promising Future

  • In 2017, the funding for the BharatNet (Phase-I and Phase-II) projects were given. In 2021, again allocations were made to implement the project under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, which, however, failed to attract the interest of the private players.
  • Till now, the government has made 203,436 gram panchayats service ready under the BharatNet project.
  • A total of 669,012 FTTH connections have also been provided under the same. Of the total 640,000 villages so far about 250,000 villages have been connected under BharatNet.
  • Once the proposal for SATCOM approved it will pave the way for companies like Jio, Starlink, and OneWeb to collaborate with the government.
  • BSNL will also tie-up with satellite communication (satcom) players to provide satellite-broadband connectivity as well.

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