Bharat Net Project
Bharat Net Project is the new brand name of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) which was launched in October, 2011 to provide broadband connectivity to all 2.5 Lakh Gram Panchayats. It was renamed Bharatnet in 2015.
As of November 2016, Bharat Net had reached 80,000 gram panchayats across rural areas of the country. The government is also setting up WiFi hotspots across all connected villages. In the union budget 2017-18, an allocation of Rs. 10000 crore has been made towards Bharat Net to expedite the project. In 2017-18, government has set target of connecting 150,000 gram panchayats via WiFi hotspots.
The primary objective was to extend the existing optical fibre network up to Panchayat level. The government had planned to make this network available to telecom service provides and as a highway for transmission of voice, data and video in rural areas.
Bharat Net is being funded through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). The Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF) was established with the fundamental objective of providing access to ‘Basic’ telegraph services to people in the rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices. Subsequently the scope was widened to provide subsidy support for enabling access to all types of telegraph services including mobile services, broadband connectivity and creation of infrastructure like OFC in rural and remote areas.