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Indian Government investing 1.7 billion dollars for improving telecom network in north-eastern states

The Economic Times reported on January 16 that the central Government of India is going to invest around Rs. 107 billion (~USD 1.7 billion) for improving the telecommunication network in the north-eastern states of India.

The Department of Telecom has initiated projects worth the above-mentioned amount and it plans to complete these by December 2018.  

An MoU has been signed between Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and USO Fund (Universal Service Obligation Fund) for setting up 6,673 mobile towers in 8,621 villages and along the national highway in the North East. (The USO Fund aims to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality ICT services at affordable prices to people in rural and remote areas, while BSNL is an Indian state-owned telecommunications company.

BSNL will set up 2,817 mobile towers out of the 6,673 in the states of Arunachal Pradesh Assam, while Bharti Airtel has started the work of erecting 2,004 towers in six states in December 2017 and plans to complete it in 18 months.  

The Asthamangal project, previously implemented by BSNL, provides alternate bandwidth of 810 Gbps through optical power ground fibre (OPGW) of Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) for all state headquarters and important locations in the northeast region.

These announcements were made by the Union Minister of State for Telecommunications, Mr. Manoj Sinha, who was attending a conference on the implementation of BharatNet and other major projects in North East.

The Indian Government recently announced the completion of Phase 1 of BharatNet by connecting over a hundred thousand Gram Panchayats (GPs; rural administration councils) across the country with high speed optical fibre network, keeping to the declared deadline of 31 Dec 2017. As on 31st Dec 2017, 254,895 km of optical fibre cable has been laid covering 109,926 GPs out of which 101,370 GPs had been made Service Ready.

Under the second phase, the government aims to connect 150,000 panchayats through 1 million kilometres of additional optical fibre and provide bandwidth to telecom players at nearly 75 per cent cheaper price for broadband and Wi-Fi services in rural areas. This infrastructure will be accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to the service providers.

The BharatNet infrastructure is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services in rural areas, in sectors such as health, education, livelihood, skill development, agriculture and commerce.

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