BharatNet broadband to be ready by 2025, announces Nirmala Sitharaman in Budget speech


Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her Budget speech on Tuesday that BharatNet broadband will be ready by 2025. She also said that BharatNet contracts for laying optical fibre will be awarded through Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Talking about the 5G rollout, Sitharaman said that spectrum auction will be conducted this year.

The government’s ambitious BharatNet plan seeks to bring broadband to 361,000 villages across 16 states. It was cleared by the Union Cabinet in July last year.

According to the plan, the private player who will be selected through bids will set up, operate and maintain the network.

The government has bundled the project into nine packages, each corresponding to one or more telecom circles, and no investor will be awarded over four packages.

The Economic Survey, released on Monday, reported that 5.46 lakh km optical fibre cable has been laid. It further said that a total of 1.73 lakh gram panchayats have been connected by optical fibre cable (OFc) and 1.59 lakh gram panchayats are service-ready on OFC, as of September 27, 2021. A boost to the telecom infrastructure is also being given under the aspirational district scheme while thrust on the provision of submarine optical fibre cable infrastructure will spur high-speed internet and broadband connectivity, the survey further said.

Under BharatNet, the telecom ministry has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with seven states - Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. These states will roll out the project on their own with partial funding from the Centre.

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