Private telecom majors have all shown interest in providing last- mile connectivity in about 43,000 gram panchayats through the BharatNet project. To make the scheme attractive, the government has announced a rate structure wherein the operators may take the optic fibre on lease and provide broadband connectivity to customers. For asymmetrical bandwidth between block to gram panchayats (GPs), the yearly charges are Rs 700 per Mbps, for up to 10 Mbps. The charges decrease to Rs 200 per Mbps if the operator is leasing the bandwidth for a speed of 1 Gbps. Rates for any intermediate bandwidth shall be proportionally calculated. Operators may also have their own rate plans for customers but the government feels these would have to be lower. Airtel has shown interest for 10,000 GPs, for taking 1 Gbps connectivity on lease.BharatNet aims to provide broadband services in rural and remoter areas. As on Sunday, optical fibre cable connectivity had been achieved in 103,275 GPs. The government is also giving discounts of five to 25 per cent for taking bandwidth in more than 1,000 GPs. Further, to lower entry barriers, port charges at block and gram panchayts have been waived. Meanwhile, Union communications minister Manoj Sinha told reporters the idea was to finalise a new telecom policy by February. Draft proposals would be issued by end-December for public comment. Regarding linking of Aadhaar with mobile phone numbers, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the government would not, for now, order disconnection of numbers for people without the citizen identification. The department was awaiting the Supreme Court's judgement on the Aadhaar issue, to decide on what action should be taken on those with an Aadhaar but who do not wish to link it with their mobile number.
Telcos keen on providing internet to gram panchayat via BharatNet last-mile
Airtel has shown interest for 10,000 GPs, for taking 1 Gbps connectivity on lease
Kiran Rathee |