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The BharatNet project

The BharatNet project

Context:

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has ordered the scrapping of a Rs 1,950 crore tender for the BharatNet project in Tamil Nadu. The department stated that the bidding conditions were “restrictive” and “discriminatory”. To connect all 12,524 gram panchayats of Tamil Nadu was the objective.

The BharatNet project

Objectives: To connect Indian villages with high-speed broadband connections through an optical fiber. It also aims at taking broadband connectivity to every nook and corner of the country by using optical fiber.

Features: 

  • BharatNet program was earlier known as National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN). NOFN program was launched in 2011.
  • Through the program, the government envisages providing a minimum of 100 Mbps bandwidth at each Gram Panchayat. BharatNet will help in accessing online services by everyone, especially those in rural India. Services include e-governance, e-learning, e-banking, e-commerce, and e-health services.
  • BharatNet program is considered the biggest rural telecom project in the world. It is now an integral part of the Digital India initiative- the flagship program to empower citizens digitally and to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban India.
  • BharatNet project will provide broadband speed from 2 to 20 Mbps. The project is proposed to provide broadband connectivity for government institutions at the district level.
  • A broadband connection will be routed through an optical fiber. If it is not possible through optical fiber then wireless and satellite networks will be used.
  • There is also a provision to provide internet connections free of cost in schools, hospitals, and skill development centers.
  • In the 2020 budget, the government has proposed to allocate 6000 crores in 2020-21 to the ‘BharatNet’ program to link one lakh gram panchayats by providing Fibre to the Home connections (FTTH).

Status of BharatNet Project: Till date 1.3 lakh, Gram Panchayats have been with BharatNet optical fiber. Bharat Net is being used through BSNL, CSB, SPV, TSP, and ISP to provide WiFi service in Gram Panchayats. 

Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL):

  • BBNL is a special purpose vehicle, set up by the government under the Department of Telecommunications for the management, establishment, and operation of BharatNet.
  • BBNL was incorporated in 2012 as a PSU under the Companies Act 1956.

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT):

  • DPIIT was established in 1995 and comes under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • It was reconstituted in the year 2000 with the merger of the Department of Industrial Development.

Optical Fiber Cable:

  • It is also known as fiber-optic cable and contains one or more optical fibers that carry electronic inputs.
  • Optical fiber is used for many services like providing high-speed data connection, long-distance communication, or providing digital audio connections between digital devices.

Way Forward:
Connecting every village with the internet is an ambitious idea of the government. The program has the potential to bring about a large-scale change in the lives of rural citizens of India. Such connectivity can have a profound impact on governance and the economy as well.

Source: Indian Express