As part of the next phase of implementation, BBNL will partner with village-level entrepreneurs and provide them with training and necessary equipment to set up connections at homes
The entrepreneurs will be compensated based on a 50:50 revenue sharing model between BBNL and the local businesspersons
19.4 Lakh villages have already been connected under the scheme, with the remaining likely to be connected within two and a half years
The union government has reportedly approved an additional outlay of INR 1.39 Lakh Cr for its flagship BharatNet initiative, which aims to provide last-mile broadband connectivity for 64 Lakh villages across the country.
Sources told The Hindu BusinessLine that the latest round of funds were approved by the union cabinet during its meeting on Friday (August 4).
“Cabinet has approved INR 1,39,579 Cr fund for providing last-mile optical fibre-based connectivity to homes in all the villages of the country. We have decided to scale it up in a significant way,” a top official said.
As per the report, 19.4 Lakh villages have already been connected under the scheme, with the remaining likely to be connected within two and a half years.
One of the world’s rural telecom projects, BharatNet has been envisaged with providing last-mile broadband connectivity to all 2.5 Lakh gram panchayats in the country in a phased manner.
As part of the next phase of implementation, Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) will partner with village-level entrepreneurs and provide them with training and necessary equipment, including routers and additional fibre optic cable, to set up connections at homes.
An arm of state telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, BBNL, has been tasked with executing the BharatNet project.
The move to onboard local entrepreneurs was finalised after the successful completion of a pilot project that helped connect villages in four districts, said the official. The trial run was then expanded to more than 60,000 villages, involving 3,800 entrepreneurs, across the length and breadth of the country.
As per the official, more than 3.51 Lakh broadband connections during the pilot and average data consumption per household was recorded to the tune of 175 GBs per month (compared to 230 GB in urban areas).
The ‘enhanced’ execution model will utilise village-level entrepreneurs, employing them as partners with full responsibility for connecting and maintaining internet connections of the residences in their respective villages.
The entrepreneurs will be compensated based on a 50:50 revenue-sharing model between BBNL and the local businesspersons. It is pertinent to note that the monthly broadband plan price under the scheme starts from INR 399 and goes all the way up to INR 799 with a minimum speed of 30 MBPS.
The official stated that the initiative has the potential to generate 25 Lakh jobs in the country. He also noted that out of the total 37 lakh route kilometres of OFC laid in the country, BBNL accounted for 7.7 lakh route km OFC.
The BharatNet project was first approved by the union cabinet in October 2011. The second phase of the project was approved in 2017, with a total funding of INR 42,068 Cr for both phases of the project.