BharatNet, the flagship project of the government of India to provide broadband services in rural and remote areas has entered the service provisioning phase and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to finalise the tariff structure for rural broadband by February.
DoT will release a draft of the rural broadband tariff structure by December-end for public comments, union minister Manoj Sinha said on Tuesday.
He said the government expects to complete the first phase of BharatNet project to connect 1 lakh village panchayats with high-speed broadband by the end of November.
As of 5 November 2017, 2,38,677 km of optical fibre cable (OFC) with connectivity capacity of 1,03,275 GPs and GPON equipment has been installed in 85,506 GPs of which 75,082 GPs are service ready, says a DoT release.
Rural broadband, to provide digital services in rural and remote areas, is one of the priority areas of the government. In order to provide affordable broadband services in rural India, a new attractive and affordable tariff structure has been decided with the principle of the more you use, less you pay. This tariff structure is expected to be reflected in the tariffs to be charged from the consumers by service providers.
DoT had proposed a differentiated tariff structure for different user types. For asymmetrical bandwidth between block to GPs the charges per annum varies from Rs700 per Mbps for up to 10 Mbps to Rs200 per Mbps for 1 Gbps. However, for symmetrical bandwidth between block to GP, charges have been prescribed as Rs1,000 per Mbps up to 10Mbps, and Rs500 per Mbps for 100 Mbps per annum. Tariff for any intermediate bandwidth shall be calculated on pro-rata basis.
Further, discount of 5 per cent to 25 per cent have been offered for taking bandwidth in more than 1,000 GPs to more than 25,000 GPs in a single application. Further, to lower the entry barriers, port charges at block and GP have been waived off. Tariffs for dark fibre are prescribed as Rs2,250 per fibre per km per annum for service providers and government agencies.
After the government's announcement of the initiatives, telecom service providers have come forward for utilising the BharatNet connectivity. Airtel has shown interest in 10,000 GPs for taking 1 Gbps connectivity on lease while Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea are interested in taking 100 Mbps connectivity on lease in about 30,000, 2,000 and 1,000 GPs respectively. The rolling out of services by TSPs in these GPs is expected to trigger the village level eco-system thereby widening the extent to cover more and more number of GPs in near future. This will give an impetus to broadband facilities in rural India.