BharatNet, one of the biggest rural telecom projects in the world, implemented in a phased manner to all Gram Panchayats (approximately 2.5 lakh) in the country for providing non-discriminatory access to broadband connectivity to all the telecom service providers. Objective is to enable access providers like mobile operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Cable TV operators, content providers to launch various services such as applications like e-health, e-education and e-governance in rural and remote India. The project has been approved by Union Cabinet on 25.10.2011. The project is being executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) namely Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), which has been incorporated on 25.02.2012 under Indian Companies Act 1956. On 30.04.2016, the Telecom Commission approved to implement the project in three phases.
So far, 180,052 Gram Panchayats are connected through BharatNet project and 596,151 Kms of OFC has been laid. Additionally, 214,584 Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) connections are commissioned and 104,611 Wi-Fi hotspots are installed to ensure last mile connectivity. (as on 26.09.2022)
The Union Cabinet on 25.10.2011 approved the project for the creation of the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN, now BharatNet) to provide broadband connectivity at the Gram Panchayat (GP) level by connecting block headquarters (BHQs) to GPs by using existing fibre of Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), RailTel Corporation of India Limited (RailTel) and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and laying incremental fibre to bridge the connectivity gap up to the GPs. The Government owns the incremental Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), and the ownership of the existing fibre was to be continued to be vested with the current owners. This was considered Phase-I of BharatNet.
Phase-I was completed in December 2017 with implementation in over 1 lakh GPs. Subsequently, the scope of Phase-I was expanded to 1.25 lakh GPs (Revised work front Phase-I) as per the Cabinet approval of 19.07.2017.
The Cabinet approved a modified strategy for BharatNet on 19.07.2017, which integrates the implementation experience of Phase-I of the project and aligns it with the vision of Digital India. The modified strategy provides an optimal mix of media (OFC, Radio and satellite) to connect Gram Panchayats (GPs). Under Phase II, GPs are to be connected through multiple implementing models like State-led Model, Private Sector Model and CPSU Model, along with Last Mile connectivity in GPs through Wi-Fi or any other suitable broadband technology. Various States covered under different models of Phase II are:
The utilisation of BharatNet network:
The utilisation of the network is through leasing bandwidth and dark fibre, Wi-Fi to access broadband or internet services in public places, and Fibre to the Home (FTTH).
As part of the project, the Last Mile Connectivity (LMC) to access broadband or internet services is to be provided through Wi-Fi in public places or any other suitable broadband technology, including FTTH at Government institutions such as schools, hospitals, post offices, anganwadis, police stations, etc.
The BharatNet tariff details are available at http://www.bbnl.nic.in/index1.aspx?lsid=673&lev=2&lid=538&langid=1.
The total funding of the BharatNet (Phase-I and Phase-II), approved by the Cabinet, is Rs 42,068 crores (exclusive of GST, Octroi and local taxes).
More details related to BharatNet are available at http://www.bbnl.nic.in/.