The Union Cabinet has approved a plan to provide broadband connectivity to 6.4 lakh villages in India under the BharatNet project. The project has a budget of Rs 1.39 lakh crore. Currently, 1.94 lakh villages have already been connected, and the remaining villages are expected to be connected within two and a half years.
The last-mile connectivity will be provided by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), in partnership with local entrepreneurs. BBNL will provide the necessary equipment and fiber for connecting homes, while the entrepreneurs will be responsible for maintaining the network. In the pilot project, which connected 60,000 villages, 3,800 entrepreneurs provided 3.51 lakh broadband connections.
The project operates on a 50% revenue-sharing basis between BBNL and the local entrepreneurs. The monthly broadband plans start from Rs 399. Currently, there are 37 lakh route kilometers of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) laid in the country, with BBNL laying 7.7 lakh route kilometers.
The project is expected to bring numerous benefits to rural areas, such as access to medical treatment from global doctors, business tutorials on YouTube, and cost savings for exam preparation. Additionally, the project is expected to create 2.5 lakh jobs in the country.