While the government is aiming to provide broadband connectivity across Gram Panchayats in the country, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has now floated a tender to install over five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots across gram panchayats by the end of 2018. The estimated cost of this project is Rs 4,000 crore. “This document intends to outline a high level approach for implementation of Wi-Fi hotspots or any other suitable broadband technology at every gram panchayat (GP) covered under the BharatNet program of Bharat Broadband Network Limited,” the tender document said.
Earlier, the telecom commission approved an amount of up to Rs 4,000 crore for the installation of 5 lakh hotspots across gram panchayats under the BharatNet broadband infrastructure. It is also revealed that the project will be rolled out in 2018 itself. As per a report by PTI, the “project is expected to be rolled out by the end of this year. The Wi-Fi hotspots will be available to the public in rural areas as well as connect social institutions like police stations, primary health centres, schools, post offices etc.”
“Once these institutions will be connected digitally, it will empower citizen in the rural area with quick and efficient service and keep them up to date with urban India,” a DoT official said to PTI.
Going by the tender document, a single Wi-Fi hotspot will be installed in a gram panchayat with a population of up to 1000; 2 hotspots will be deployed with a population of 3,500, three with a population of up to 7,500, 4 for 12,000 population and 5 hotspots in GPs will be set up where the population is above 12,000.
The document also revealed that the vendor installing these Wi-Fi hotspot services have to maintain the entire infrastructure for a minimum period of four years from the date of successful completion. The estimated budget for the installation fo one Wi-Fi hotspot per gram panchayat is set as Rs 1.5 lakh. That said, the government is expected to cover 2.3 lakh gram panchayats.
At the moment, over 43,000 Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed in rural areas under the Wi-Fi Choupal program. As we recently reported, these Wi-Fi hotspots have registered a surge of data usage by 190% to 95TB in six months of the service as on April 30, 2018. Also, the Wi-Fi hotspot service allows users to make voice calls through OTT apps.