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Bihar to be first Indian state to connect all villages with Optical Fibre Internet

With the recent announcements by India’s Prime Minister on 15th August 2020, the nation plans to ensure high-speed internet connectivity via an optical fibre network for the more than 600,000 villages across India within 1000 days. The stated objective of the initiative is to convert every village into a Digital Village, enhance digital empowerment and awareness and to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural settings. The coverage aims to enable India’s digital revolution to reach the farthest corner of the nation and to foster inclusive socio-economic growth for all.

The first steps towards this pan-nation coverage came with the launch of a project to connect all 45,945 villages in Bihar with Optical Fibre Internet Service. According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, on completion, Bihar will be the first state in India to connect all its villages by optical fibre. The Common Service Centre Special Purpose Vehicle (CSC SPV) will provide 1 Wi-Fi and 5 FTTH connections for one year free of cost to identified government Institutions, primary schools, Anganwadi Centres, Aasha workers and Jeevika Didi, etc. Additionally, 1 Wi-Fi provision will be made at a public place in every village.

The project will be executed with the combined efforts of the Department of Telecom which has already connected 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats across India with optical fibre internet service, along with Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology and Common Service Centres (CSC).

The CSC has 34,821 Centres throughout Bihar and it will utilise this workforce to not only implement this project but also make it professionally run to provide Optical Fibre Internet Services for common citizens at every village of Bihar. This project will be completed by Q1 of 2021 at an approximate cost of Rs. 1,000 Crore (US$ 137 million).

The day was considered historic, as not only for the state of Bihar but for the entire country as the government is taking major steps to make its villages the mainstay of AtmaNirbharBharat (self-reliant India).

India is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of digital transactions. In August 2020 alone about Rs 3 lakh crore (USD 40 billion) worth transactions were made through UPI. While India has been aggressively pushing digital commerce and e-transactions, the pandemic is driving education, healthcare and daily life online. With the huge increase in internet demand to live life across India, it is necessary to ensure that even villages of the country have good quality, high-speed internet.

The approach is outcome-based with special focus on utilisation of the BharatNet with Service Level Agreement (SLA) commitment. On completion and running, a socio-economic impact assessment would be carried out by national premier institutions to understand the benefits and success of this pilot project. There will be a comprehensive Consumer Redressal Mechanism; a full-fledged customer care service shall be established by CSC-SPV for redressal of consumer grievances.

Speedier connectivity would provide many online benefits as well as access to global markets for all sectors. This project will boost digital services like e-Education, e-Agriculture, Tele-Medicine, Tele-law and other social security schemes. Real-time data on weather, education, business, health and safety will allow India and Indians to thrive in a COVID-19 era.

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