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Bharat Net Project

Updated on :  

08 min read.

The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), launched in October 2011, was renamed the Bharat Net Project in 2015. The Bharat Net Project is the world’s largest broadband connectivity programme for rural areas using optical fibre. It provides affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households.

Under the Ministry of Communications, the Department of Telecommunication implements the Bharat Net Project programme. It offers an on-demand capacity for institutions in partnership with the private sector and states to realise Digital India’s vision.

The objective of the Bharat Net Project is to facilitate the delivery of e-health, e-governance, e-education, internet, e-banking, and other services to rural India. Bharat Net is a project of the Government of India to digitally connect all the villages and Gram Panchayats (GPs) of India.

Features of the Bharat Net Project

  • The Bharat Net Project aims to provide internet connectivity in remote and rural areas.
  • It was launched with a vision to transform India into a knowledgeable economy and digitally empowered society.
  • It was launched under the Digital India programme.
  • It will bring transparency to the connectivity system.
  • It provides high-speed digital internet connectivity in rural areas at affordable prices through an optical fibre.
  • Through this project, all the families living in rural areas will get broadband connectivity, facilitating ease of life.
  • Bharat Net Project will improve the standard of living of rural people.
  • Rural people can avail various kinds of online services through the implementation of this project.
  • Students living in rural areas can take online classes, helping them achieve success.

Services of Bharat Net Project

Connectivity is provided to service providers like ISPs, TSPs, LCOs, MSOs, and government agencies through the Bharat Net Project to extend their services from block to GP. It is a middle mile network between blocks to GPs. The following services are offered to the service providers and government agencies through the Bharat Net Project:

Bandwidth Service

Using Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology, GPs are offered point to multipoint and point to point bandwidth from blocks. The bandwidth is provided at attractive and affordable prices for promoting the digital ecosystem. Every government agency and service provider who wants to provide services to the GPs can connect to Bharat Net at the block locations. However, the service providers need to offer their services to the end customers in the GPs using their own technology. 

Dark Fibre Service

Service providers can utilise dark fibre service on the new cable laid by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) between the blocks and GPs. This cable is also called incremental cable. The incremental cable is offered from the fibre point of interconnect and a GP. There are 15,000 GPs where dark fibre is available. Dark fibre is offered at an affordable and attractive rate of Rs.2,250 per fibre per annum per km.

Implementation of the Bharat Net Project

The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) funds the entire Bharat Net Project. The USOF was set up to improve telecom services in remote and rural areas of the country. The Bharat Net Project is implemented in phases, which are as follows:

First Phase

In the first phase, the aim was to provide one lakh GPs with broadband connectivity by December 2017 by laying underground Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) lines. Phase-I to connect one lakh GPs is complete. The Central Public Sector Undertakings (BSNL, PGCIL and RailTel) implemented phase-I. The existing fibre of BSNL between blocks to GPs is used to connect and lay new OFC under the project. Currently, work is in progress for the balance of new GPs.

Second Phase

Phase-II was launched to provide connectivity to all the GPs in India by March 2019 using an optimal mix of fibre over power lines, radio, underground fibre, and satellite media. The participation of states was essential for the success of phase-II, which also involved laying OFC over electricity poles. 

Laying OFC over electricity poles is a new element of the Bharat Net strategy. The connectivity mode by aerial OFC has various advantages, including speedier implementation, easy maintenance, lower cost, and utilisation of existing power line infrastructure. The last mile connectivity for citizens was proposed to be given by creating Wi-Fi hotspots in GPs under phase-II.

Third Phase

From 2019 to 2023, future-proof and a state-of-the-art network, with ring topology including fibre between districts and blocks to provide redundancy, would be created. The project will be extended to every inhabited village beyond the GPs in 16 states through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

As of 28.02.2022, the status of implementation of the Bharat Net Project is as follows:

  • Total 1,72,361 GPs (4,351 GPs on satellite and 1,68,010 GPs on OFC) have been made service ready in India.
  • Wi-Fi hotspots are installed in 1,04,288 GPs.
  • About 2,13,834 fibre to the home broadband connections is provided.
  • About 36,333 km of dark fibre is leased. 
  • About 4,038 Gbps bandwidth is leased using the Bharat Net network.
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