The government has selected Hughes Communications India to connect 5,000 village panchayats in the border and Naxal-affected states as well as in island territories with satellite broadband under the BharatNet project by March 2021. The 5,000-gram panchayats are located in north-eastern states, including Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh as well as in Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep that lack terrestrial connectivity, such as fiber or cable, Hughes said in a statement on Tuesday.
The BharatNet network being created by Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL), is to provide affordable high-speed broadband access to rural citizens and institutions of all the Gram Panchayats of the country. "We are very happy to be partnering with Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) and Hughes to leverage satellite broadband to connect gram panchayats that are remote or located in difficult terrain," BBNL CMD Sarvesh Singh said.
Hughes spokesperson further added that the project includes connecting village panchayats in Naxal-affected states Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand also. "Hughes is committed to the government’s vision of enabling Digital India, and we are excited about our partnership with TCIL and BBNL as part of BharatNet to bring high-speed connectivity to the remote gram panchayats," Hughes India president and managing director Partho Banerjee said.
Under the agreement, Hughes India will enable Internet service for each gram panchayat using capacity from ISRO’s GSAT-19 and GSAT-11 satellites with the Hughes Jupiter System, the de facto standard for satellite broadband implementations, in use on more than 40 satellites worldwide. The government aims to connect all 2.5 lakh village panchayats in the country with high-speed broadband services by August 2021.
"The completion (of Hughes project) is expected by March 2021. We have delivered 90 percent of the sites as on date, and commissioned 50 percent," the spokesperson said. Hughes India will provide solar-powered user terminals, and network operations, install the equipment at each site and manage the service to deliver speeds up to 10 megabits per second under the deal.