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BharatNet Project

  • 01 Jul 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved a Viability Gap Funding support of up to Rs. 19,041 crore (Out of the total expense of Rs. 29,430 crore) for the implementation of the BharatNet project through Public-Private Partnership model.

  • Public-Private Partnership (PPP) involves collaboration between a government agency and a private-sector company that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects. The PPP Model in this critical infrastructure of Telecom is a novel initiative.
  • Viability Gap Funding (VGF) means a grant one-time or deferred, provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall short of financial viability.

Key Points

  • About:
    • It is the world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fibre. And also a flagship mission implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL).
      • BBNL is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up by the Government of India under the Companies Act, 1956 with an authorized capital of Rs 1000 crore.
    • It is a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide on demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on demand capacity to all institutions, to realise the vision of Digital India, in partnership with States and the private sector.
    • It is being implemented by the Department of Telecommunication under the Ministry of Communications.
    • National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) which was launched in October 2011 was renamed as Bharat Net Project in 2015.
      • NOFN was envisaged as an information superhighway through the creation of a robust middle-mile infrastructure for reaching broadband connectivity to Gram Panchayats.
    • In 2019, the Ministry of Communications also launched the ‘National Broadband Mission’ to facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country.
  • Funding:
    • The entire project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.
  • Objective:
    • The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.
  • Phases of the Project:
    • First Phase:
      • Provide one lakh gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by laying underground Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) lines by December 2017.
    • Second Phase:
      • Provide connectivity to all the gram panchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media by March 2019.
    • Third Phase:
      • From 2019 to 2023, a state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fibre between districts and blocks, with ring topology to provide redundancy would be created.
  • Current Extension of BharatNet:
    • The project will be extended to all inhabited villages beyond the gram panchayats in 16 States which are:
      • Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
    • The revised strategy will include creation, upgrading, operation, maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet by the private sector partner, who will be selected by a competitive international bidding process.
    • The selected private sector partner is expected to provide reliable, high speed broadband services as per predefined Services Level Agreement (SLA).
  • Significance of PPP in BharatNet:
    • Faster Roll Out:
      • The PPP Model will leverage private sector efficiency for operation, maintenance, utilisation and revenue generation and is expected to result in the faster roll out of BharatNet.
    • Increased Investment:
      • The private sector partner is expected to bring an equity investment and raise resources towards capital expenditure and for operation and maintenance of the network.
    • Better Access:
      • Extension of BharatNet to all inhabited villages will enable better access to e-services offered by various governments, enable online education, telemedicine, skill development, e-commerce and other applications of broadband.

Source:TH

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