"In September, we expect to put out tender for 2.5 lakh GPs (gram panchayats) to be covered with wifi by March 2019. This is a big goal. This will mean that if we are able to put out wifi access in literally every GP, 5.5 lakh villages will actually have access to mobile broadband," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told news agency PTI in an interview.
The project cost is estimated to be around Rs 3,700 crore. The government expects to start broadband services with about 1,000 megabit per second (1 gbps) across 1 lakh gram panchayats by the end of this year.
Earlier, the plan was to provide 100 megabit per second connectivity to village panchayats, but under the new BharatNet, the broadband speed has been enhanced 10 times to 1 gigabit per second at every panchayat level.
"1 lakh wifi will used under BharatNet service. The other 1.5 lakh need not be on BharatNet from Day 1. Once we complete BharatNet, we will integrate all wifi backward to the BharatNet," Ms Sundararajan said.
At download speed of 1 gbps, an user can theoretically download a video equivalent to the size of a general Bollywood movie in about 2 seconds.
The telecom secretary termed BharatNet as "extremely crucial" for meeting new goal of the government -- Internet services for all.
She was quick to point out the pace of implementing BharatNet has accelerated by seven times in the last one month. "Earlier, we were doing around 150 installations a day.
We have now reached 800 installations of electronic equipment a day," Ms Sundararajan added.
Data shared by Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha showed that Internet service has started in 33,430 gram panchayats as of September 6.
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