The Indian government has finally renamed its National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) project as BharatNet. This belated re-branding is a good move, since the acronym was susceptible to distortion – “No fiber network.” Nevertheless, BharatNet aims to connect 250,000 villages and small towns (Gram Panchayats) via 600,000km of optical fiber network to provide broadband.
Prime Minister Mr. Modi has formed a committee to “analyze the structure” of this INR720.0 billion (US$11.6 billion) scheme. The Economic Times, however, questions the delivery of BharatNet:
Under BharatNet, the committee expects retail broadband services should be available at prices below Rs 150 a month in poorer states and around Rs 250 per month in more economically advanced state, with speeds ranging between 2 Mbps and 20 Mbps for all households. It has further recommended on demand capacity to all institutions. Interestingly, the government had previously envisaged broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Mr. Modi’s committee may also take a closer look at the name “BharatNet” to avert a possible dispute. Six years ago Reliance Communication (RCOM) has launched a wireless broadband service for the rural citizens as “BharatNet Wireless Internet Plan” in India. Emergence of the public sector BharatNet may irk Mr. Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, unless negotiated otherwise.