Government Schemes play a crucial role in expanding and improving internet access, especially in underserved or rural areas. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can benefit from these schemes to enhance their infrastructure and provide better services to their customers.
To bridge the digital divide is the main aim of these schemes along with ensuring that more people have access to high-speed and reliable internet connections. However, from country to country and even within different regions of the same country, the specifics of these schemes may vary.
Few Government Grant Schemes For ISPs
BharatNet is one of the biggest rural telecom projects all over the world, implemented in a phased manner to all Gram Panchayats (approximately 2.5 lakh) in the country for providing non-discriminatory access to broadband connectivity to all the telecom service providers.
The main aim of this project is to enable access providers like Internet Service Providers (ISPs), mobile operators, Cable TV operators, and content providers to launch various services such as applications like e-health, e-education, and e-governance in rural and remote India.
On 25.10.2011, the project has been approved by the Union Cabinet. It is being executed by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), which has been incorporated on 25.02.2012 under the Indian Companies Act 1956. The Telecom Commission approved to implement the project in three phases on 30.04.2016.
As of 21.08.2023, 198,144 Gram Panchayats are connected through the BharatNet project and 655,516 Km of OFC has been laid. Also, 619,519 Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) connections are commissioned and 104,675 Wi-Fi hotspots are installed to ensure last-mile connectivity.
354 Uncovered Villages Project
The main aim of this scheme was the provisioning of mobile services in 354 uncovered villages in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, and other priority areas by installing 354 mobile towers for Rs 336.89 crore. On 28.04.2020, an agreement was signed with the implementing agency M/s Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL). Few of the villages were exempted later due to prior coverage, leaving only 309 villages to be covered as a part of the project.
Under this scheme, 284 villages have been provided internet coverage by the installation of 262 mobile towers. 55 additional villages were included, out of which, 23 villages have been covered by installing 23 mobile towers and associated infrastructure till July 2023. The tower installation is in progress.
Rural Wireline Broadband Scheme
To provide broadband connectivity to rural & remote areas, the Rural Wireline Broadband Scheme was launched. The main aim was to provide broadband connectivity at a speed of at least 512 kbps, with a capacity to deliver data, voice, and video services in a fixed mode in rural areas. This scheme is being implemented at a pan-India level.
On 20.01.2009, Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund signed an agreement with BSNL with 9 years validity period. Under this scheme, BSNL was supposed to provide 888,832 wire-line broadband connections to individual users as well as government institutions and set up 28,672 kiosks over a period of 6 years, i.e., by 2015 (extended by one year from the original target of January 2014).
As of 31st January 2015, a total of 6,56,345 broadband connections have been provided and 15,671 kiosks have been set up in rural and remote areas.
Critical Aspects for ISPs to Consider When Applying For Government Schemes
Coverage and Reach
It is necessary to define the geographic areas clearly that the grant will cover. Specifically, highlight underserved or unserved regions where internet access is limited or non-existent.
Transparently describe how the scheme funds will be used to build or upgrade broadband infrastructure, for instance laying fiber-optic cables, setting up wireless towers, or deploying other technologies like satellite or fixed wireless.
Highlight any partnerships with local governments, educational institutions, healthcare providers, or other community organizations that can strengthen the impact of the broadband deployment.
Data Privacy and Security
Specially mention how you are planning to handle data privacy as well as security concerns for users accessing the newly deployed services.
For different phases of the infrastructure development, provide a clear timeline for project implementation, including milestones and expected completion dates.
Different KPIs that will be used to measure the success of the project should be described by you. This could include metrics like increased subscription rates, improved speeds, and reduced latency.
Ensure that the proposed projects adhere to all relevant local, state, and federal regulations, including permitting, environmental impact assessments, and other legal considerations.
Showcase the technical expertise of the ISP's team, highlighting their experience in deploying and managing broadband networks.
ISPs can create strong proposals that demonstrate their commitment to expanding broadband access and providing better internet services to underserved communities by addressing the above-mentioned critical aspects.
If you are an ISP looking for government schemes be prepared to demonstrate how your proposed project aligns with the goals of the scheme’s program as well as how it will benefit the community you aim to serve.
Best of luck on your project journey!
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