The BharatNet initiative, that aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats or village blocks, has crossed halfway mark, additional secretary, Department of Telecom (DoT), Anshul Prakash Wednesday said.
Prakash was speaking at the India-UK Future Tech Festival in New Delhi.
“We have taken BharatNet project to connect 250,000 gram panchayats, and accelerated execution in last two years, and crossed halfway mark,” Prakash said, adding that telecom infrastructure would be available to service providers on a non-discriminatory basis.
The initiative to connect 2.5 lakh village blocks or more than 6 lakh villages, is 100% funded by the Centre and has a completion deadline of March 31, 2019.
The ambitious project that was originally conceived by the UPA-II government in 2011 as the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) and renamed to BharatNet, is being monitored by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) and has missed various deadlines since then.
The government, he said, is also taking initiatives in the area of fifth generation or 5G technology and Internet of Things (IoT), and added that the department has taken steps towards ease of doing business, and the situation has eventually improved.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA regime has formed a high-level 5G Forum that includes representation from the academia, industry and the government to bring out a roadmap for the rollout of newer technology-based services in tandem with matured markets worldwide.
India has 1.17 billion wireless subscribers, 491 million broadband users, and consumes 3.4 billion gigabytes (GB) of data on a monthly basis, the top official said, adding that the contribution of mobility would continue to grow.
Base trans-receiver stations, according to him, have doubled in the last four years, and in 2017-18 alone, the sector has received $6.2 billion worth of in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Digital India, according to him, is a flagship program that aims to convert the country into a knowledge economy.
The recently-unveiled National Digital Communication Policy 2018, Prakash said provides comprehensive industry-wide focus, digital inclusion, and roadmap for the telecom sector.
“Two (India and the UK) countries are natural partners. Information Communication Technology (ICT) has become a lifeline in the digital era. The digital revolution is making the emergence of future technologies,” he said.
Prakash added that the India-UK partnership would facilitate collaborative ecosystem, and helps in creating value and new job opportunities.