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The government today expressed hope that second phase of Bharat Net project to provide broadband connectivity and services to 1.5 lakh gram panchayats will be completed ahead of schedule byDecember this year. The original timeline for completion of the second phase is March 2019. Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said financial incentives and disincentives should be built into contract clauses to reward players for on-time delivery, and ensure speedy execution of the second phase of the project. "For the second phase, financial incentive and disincentive clauses should be incorporated," Sinha said at an event to mark the completion of the first phaseof Bharat Net project and felicitate its implementation partners. Under the first phase, one lakh gram panchayats have been provided with hi-speed broadband connectivity. Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the second phase of the project has been initiated for connecting the remaining 1.5 lakh gram panchayats on high-speed broadband network. "We have started Phase II...the Cabinet has already approved it.
We hope it will be completed well in time by December 2018,"she said. The objective of the mega project is to provide affordable broadband services in rural and remote areas, in partnership with states and the private sector. Describing Bharat Net as the world's largest rural broadband project, the Telecom Minister said that the project will generate massive employment opportunities, both direct and indirect, in the country in the coming days. The infrastructure is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services for the rural poor in crucial areas like health, education, livelihood, skills, e-agriculture and e- commerce. The tariff for BharatNet has been revised to get more service providers on board to use the infrastructure for high-speed broadband services through wi-fi and Fibre-to-the- Home. Stating that the tender process for the second phase has already started, she said state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has floated its tender. "...Wi-fi tenders whereby from 38,000 wi-fi hotspots, by the end of implementation that is planned for December 2018, India will go to half a million wi-fi hotspots. We believe that will be a game changer," Sundararajan said. The Department of Telecom also felicitated the key performers for their contribution to achieve the targets in the first phase.
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