The central government will provide free WiFi till March 2020 to all villages connected through the BharatNet broadband service at present, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday.
At present, around 48,000 villages connected through the BharatNet project have WiFi access.
“We have connected 1.3 lakh gram panchayats through BharatNet network so far. Our aim is to take this further to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. To promote further utilisation, we will provide WiFi free in all villages connected through BharatNet till March 2020,” Prasad said at an event here.
The government’s BharatNet project aims to provide access to all the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country. Last year, the government said it had connected nearly 1 lakh gram panchayats through BharatNet in phase-one.
So far, a total of Rs 20,431 crore has been spent from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for connecting villages under BharatNet.
The total cost of both the phases was pegged at Rs 45,000 crore by the government in November 2017.
The Common Service Centres (CSCs) act as the nodal point from where the WiFi and broadband services are distributed. Other than that, the CSCs also act as banking correspondents and access point for delivery of other important government services such as updating Aadhaar, getting passport made, among other things.
At present, there are about 3.60 lakh CSCs operating across the country.
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