BharatNet Project is the world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fiber. It is implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) – a special purpose vehicle under the Telecom Ministry and is the Government of India’s ambitious rural internet connectivity programme. The topic comes under the GS-II Indian Polity syllabus of the IAS Exam and this article will provide you relevant facts about it.
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Introduction to the BharatNet
An expert committee reviewed the National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) and proposed a modified project called BharatNet. It has subsumed all the ongoing and proposed broadband network projects. The project is being executed by BSNL, RailTel, and Power Grid and is being funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- It aims to connect all of India’s households, specifically rural households through demand, affordable high-speed internet connectivity to fulfill the objectives of the Digital India programme in partnership with the states and the private sector.
- The Bharat Net project proposes broadband connectivity to households under village Panchayats and even to government institutions at the district level.
- It intends to cover all 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats for the provision of E-governance, E-healthcare, E-Commerce, E-Education, and Public Interest Access services.
- The first phase of the Bharat Net project will be completed in December 2017, providing internet access to 1 lakh Gram Panchayats. So far, 83000 Gram Panchayats have been connected.
- The types of equipment for the programme are indigenously designed and are manufactured in India, under the “Make in India” initiative.
- NOFN had not incorporated any revenue model but Bharat Net has.
Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF):
The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was established with the primary objective of providing access to ‘Basic’ telecom services to people in the remote and rural areas at reasonable and affordable prices. Subsequently, the scope was widened to provide subsidy support for enabling access to all types of telegraph services including mobile services, broadband connectivity, and creation of infrastructure like Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) in rural and remote areas.