The Indian Government announced that it had allocated an additional INR 19.041-crore (US$2.6 billion) in order to divert efforts towards the expansion as well as up-gradation of BharatNet, which is a nationwide initiative aimed at connecting over 600,000 villages with the optic fibre-based network so as to ensure the delivery of Internet services.
With this, the total outlay for the ambitious scheme will now be INR 61,109 crore including the already approved amount of INR 42,068 crore in 2017. This announcement was made by Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
She further added that the implementation of BharatNet will be in the public-private partnership (PPP) model in 16 States (bundled into 9 packages) on a viability gap funding basis.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on August 15, 2020, announced that all villages will be connected with broadband in 1,000 days.
Of the targeted 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (village blocks) covering more than 6 lakh villages, 1,56,223 blocks have been covered by May 31, the latest data released by the government showed. The additional outlay will be used to connect the balance.
The second and final phase of the BharatNet project was launched in 2017. Under the project one million kilometres of additional optical fibre and give bandwidth to telecom players at nearly 75% cheaper price for broadband and wifi services in rural areas.