The completion of India’s national broadband network, part of the government’s ‘Digital India’ programme, is expected to be delayed by at least two years, the Economic Times writes. The network, also known as BharatNet, was originally due to be completed by end-2016 but is now expected to be finished by December 2018 at the earliest. Aruna Sundararajan, the managing director and chairwoman of Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), the state-owned company tasked to manage the rollout, explained that the delay was due to increases in the scale of the project and a three-fold rise in costs. The initiative is now expected to cost INR720 billion (USD10.8 billion), rather than the original estimate of INR210 billion, the official noted, adding that the government has yet to approve the revised cost.
BharatNet was originally planned to provide connectivity to 250,000 gram panchayats (village councils), but the project has since been extended to include 300,000 schools, 30,000 health centres, 200,000 government institutions and the installation of 250,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots. To date, a total of 58,400km of fibre-optic cable has been installed, covering 25,204 gram panchayats in Kerala, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Karnataka.