RJio paid the highest advance subscription fee of Rs 13 crore to provide broadband services at 30,000 village panchayats, Bharti Airtel will cover 30,500 village panchayats while Vodafone and Idea would offer services in 2,000 and 1,000 villages, respectively.
Under the phase 2, the government aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibre and give bandwidth to telecom players at almost 75 per cent cheaper price for broadband and wifi services in rural areas.
Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described the launch of BharatNet phase-2 as a momentous occasion, Union communications minister Manoj Sinha lauded Telangana state and urged other states to emulate it.
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BharatNet Phase I is set to complete by the end of 2017. As per official data, broadband services have already been started in more than 48,000 panchayats and over 75,000 panchayats are ready for the services.
The National Optical Fibre Network was approved by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2011, and it was renamed to BharatNet and its progress was expedited by the current government. Phase 1 of the project, under which 100k Gram Panchayats were to be connected, will be completed by the end of this year. However, only about three hundred kilometres out of 3 lakh kilometres of optical fibre were laid across the country, Sinha said.
Bharat Broadband Network is the executing agency for the BharatNet project along with three PSUs.
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Telangana Fiber Grid programme is all set to a get a fresh boost with the Central government signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Telangana State government and allotting Rs 1,243 crore under Phase-II of BharatNet programme which is a hi-speed rural broadband network. The government is also using rugged and low-maintenance equipment manufactured domestically and technology developed by state-sponsored Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT).
Sundararajan said the total project cost of BharatNet was around Rs 45,000 crore, of which Rs11,200 crore have been used for the first phase.
Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu Kashmeer are among the states where the connectivity hasn't reached yet.
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The government will also give Rs3,600 crore in financial support to telecom service operators for rolling out Wi-Fi in villages.