Amarjeet , GGM/CC , RailTel Corporation of India Ltd.
RailTel is an integral part of Digital India mission, which envisages creating a digital society for inclusive growth. We are continuously striving toward putting effort in digitizing India. Be it our projects or our CSR activities, the focus remains the same to bring the advantages of digital world to the masses. The major roadblock in bringing digital facilities to the rural population is lack of telecom infrastructure. The development of telecom infrastructure has seen a rapid growth in the past couple of years. The urban India now enjoys the advantages of cutting-edge telecom technology and it is still developing at a fast pace. But the same growth is completely missing when it comes to rural India. Developing infrastructure is a huge investment and return on investment from the same is comparatively low from rural India. That is why in most of the cases the telecom infrastructure growth of rural India is nowhere up to the mark. But BharatNet is one revolutionary project, which focuses on rural areas and develops telecom infrastructure.
BharatNet – erstwhile National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) – project is an ambitious project of Government of India which aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) across the country over optical fiber cable. This will not only create a scalable telecom infrastructure but also democratize information by reaching out to the unconnected rural population.
Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL) was formed exclusively for realizing this project and RailTel, along with BSNL and PGCIL, came on board as implementation partner of BharatNet.
Under Phase-I, BharatNet aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to 100,000 GPs in the country. RailTel has been allotted 8768 GPs under Phase-I for providing broadband services in the states of Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Puducherry, and North-Eastern states – Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland. Additional 25,000 GPs have been taken up to increase the work front to meet the target of 1 lakh GPs. RailTel has been assigned additional 4063 GPs (16.2 percent) on June 23, 2016. All the contracts for Phase-I and additional work front have been awarded.
The work for providing cutting-edge infrastructure through BharatNet is in full swing. RailTel has already completed all the GPs in Puducherry and it has been successfully commissioned as well. In addition to this, all the GPs in Anand district and Vadnagar block of Gujarat, Unakoti district of Tripura, and Bishnupur district of Manipur have been commissioned in all respects. Work in other GPs is on track and we expect to meet the deadlines.
BharatNet is a challenging project for RailTel in many aspects. The mammoth task of connecting the unconnected part of India came with its fair share of roadblocks. The terrains allotted to RailTel in North-East area are hilly and difficult to reach. Narrow roads, non-existent basic infrastructure, lack of available skilled labor, and harsh weather conditions made it even more difficult to lay optical fiber cable for creating a robust network.
Once completed, BharatNet will change the telecom scenario of India. Internet is no more a luxury but a necessity for inclusive growth of individual and as well as the country. The rural population, which is about 70 percent in the country, is underdeveloped and deprived of proper digital interface. With Digital India mission to create a connected India, all efforts are being made to bring scalable digital infrastructure to far off areas of the country. The campaign has given hundreds of millions of Indians hope that their lives will be transformed via electronic delivery of financial, health, education, justice, and security services along with a truly massive push for online open courses. BharatNet is one of the most important components for bringing Internet service to the rural population and realizing the Digital India dream of billions.