There were 422.19 million broadband subscribers and the internet penetration (internet subscriber per 100 populations) was 32.86 per cent in the country as on March 31, 2017, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha informed Parliament on Friday. In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Sinha said the National Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 600 million broadband connections by the year 2020.
He said that the government has planned the BharatNet project to provide 100 Mbps broadband connectivity to all Gram Panchayats (around 2.5 lakh) in the country. Under the first phase of the project, one lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) are to be connected by laying underground optical fibre cable (OFC). The work is under implementation. Under Phase-II, targeted to be completed by March 2019, connectivity will be provided to remaining 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media, the Minister said.
Sinha said the provision of last-mile access to the network and broadband service provisioning shall be through Wi-Fi or any other broadband access technologies in all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats in the country. As on July 23, 2017, under the BharatNet project, OFC laying was completed in 100,299 Gram Panchayats and broadband connectivity was provided in 25,426 of them.
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