BharatNet: A step towards a digitally empowered India

The Union Cabinet has recently approved a revised implementation strategy for BharatNet, aimed at bridging India's digital divide

July 1, 2021

Through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for 16 Indian states, BharatNet will extend to villages beyond Gram Panchayats.

The PPP model will select a concessionaire through a competitive bidding process globally to implement the project.

It will also ensure the maximum use of private sector efficiency with the aim to facilitate the rapid launch of the project.

This project is one of the major developments in the Indian government’s vision of a digitally empowered nation.

BharatNet,  the Indian government’s public broadband network, has received the green signal for a revised implementation strategy through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in 16 Indian states. The Union Cabinet approved the revised strategy,  whose outreach will extend to villages beyond Gram Panchayats (GPs) in these 16 states. The strategy encompasses the creation, upgradation, operation, maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet by the concessionaire (who will be selected through an international bidding process)The approved maximum viability gap funding is estimated at USD$2.54 million approximately. The concessionaire is required to ensure that reliable, high-speed broadband is provided in accordance to a predefined Services Level Agreement (SLA). 

With features such as the use of innovative technology, rapid connectivity and strong network, a range of services on high-speed broadband, access to all online services, BharatNet provides major advantages to users across the country.  The pandemic has changed our very basic lifestyles, wherein online education, e-commerce, work-from-home, telemedicine and skill development have taken precedence, and this revised strategy will be significantly beneficial in  these specified areas.. The PPP model will oversee the maximum use of private sector efficiency with the maintenance, utilisation and revenue generation which can ensure that the project is launched sooner than expected. Additionally, the garnering of resources for capital expenditure  along with the operation and maintenance of the network and increasing the equity investment are expected to be the advantages of a private sector partner.        

BharatNet is one of  the major developments in the government’s Digital India Initiative, which aims to create a digitally empowered nation. The vision of this initiative can broadly be classified into three areas: 1. The provision of a digital infrastructure and internet access as a basic necessity to every Indian citizen across the country, 2. Accessibility to government services along with ensuring the smooth, safe and reliable functioning of these services, and 3. Ensuring the digital empowerment of all citizens through steps to bring digital literacy, availability of digital resources in the plethora of Indian languages, accessibility to digital resources, which in turn could save the time taken to manually submit any papers/certificates required for government processes.