Indi­an Gov­ern­ment Aims at 600 Mil­lion Broad­band Users by 2020


Communications Minister Manoj Sinha announced on Friday that there are 422.19 million internet users in the country as of March 31, 2017, which equals to 32.86 percent of the India population.

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In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Sinha said the National Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 600 million broadband connections by the year 2020.

Although the chunk of internet subscribers (approximately 70%) in India come from the urban areas, the government’s BharatNet project aims at having a 100% internet penetration in rural India.

This will be done using a mix of underground and aerial optical fibre cables, radio and satellite, which will be shared among all the internet service providers on a non-discriminatory basis.

The BharatNet project, which is funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund, aims to deliver a broadband connection to all the 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats in the country.

BharatNet is being executed by three PSUs of Bharat Broadband Network Limited — BSNL, Power Grid Corporation and RailTel — and had intended to deliver internet facilities to 1 lakh Gram Panchayats in its first phase by March 2017.

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But there seems to be a discrepancy in the government’s policy as it was earlier reported that the 100 percent internet penetration in Rural India will be a reality by December 2018.

Now the date for the completion of Phase- II of the BharatNet project has been extended to March 2019. By then, the government plans to install broadband facilities in the remaining 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats.

As on July 23, 2017, under the BharatNet project, OFC laying was completed in 100,299 Gram Panchayats and broadband connectivity was provided in 25,426 of them.

Given the aforementioned statistics, it seems quite certain that laying the infrastructure for the broadband facilities isn’t enough, getting them started matters too and hence Sinha pointing out the 600 million figure in 2020 makes sense.

Sinha said the provision of last-mile access to the network and broadband service provisioning shall be through Wi-Fi or any other broadband access technologies in all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats in the country.

(With inputs from IANS)

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