Bharti Airtel today announced its partnership with the Department of Telecommunication to elevate broadband penetration in rural areas. The leading telecom operator will be piloting Broadband Experience Centres riding on BharatNet infrastructure as part of its effort to bring broadband internet connectivity to rural areas.
Airtel further mentioned that as part of the partnership, the company has set up three Broadband experience Centres in three villages in Ghazipur, Gorakhpur and Varanasi districts of Uttar Pradesh. Airtel has committed to partner with BharatNet in nearly 30,500 Gram Panchayats, according to an official statement from the company. For those who are not aware, BharatNet is the Indian’s government’s project to bring fiber-optic internet connectivity to rural India. In February, the government had revealed that close to 1.1 lakh gram panchayats had been connected with this under the BharatNet scheme.
Meanwhile, Airtel’s centres will allow users and local entrepreneurs to experience high-speed broadband connectivity and get access to use cases relating to e-banking, e-health, e-governance etc. Further, these centres will also denote advanced technologies and use cases around AI and IoT (Internet of Things). Airtel is giving 100 Mbps connectivity to these centres via infrastructure provided under Department of Telecom’s BharatNet programme.
Airtel has also partnered with Jiva Ayurveda (Online Health consultations), Takshilla e-learning services (Education Content Services) and Amazon (for Amazon Echo smart speakers) to provide digital and web-based services.
Under BharatNet programme, DoT is planning to connect 2.5 lakhs gram panchayat villages with optical fibre connectivity. The project envisions the extension of the optical fibre from block headquarters to the gram panchayat level. With one lakh villages been connected with optical fibre for providing seamless broadband connectivity to the rural population in the first phase, the second phase to connect the rest of 1.5 lakh gram panchayats by March next year.