Govt earmarks Rs 14,500 cr for telecom infra projects

Ajith Athrady, DH News Service, New Delhi, Feb 1 2018, 23:50 IST
Jaitley also announced multiple programmes aimed at bolstering investment in emerging technologies like AI and IoT. representative image.

The Centre on Thursday allocated around Rs 14,500 crore to improve telecom infrastructure projects, including an alternate communication network for defence services.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 10,000 crore for expansion of telecom infrastructure managed by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

Besides this, the government has also made a provision of Rs 4,500 crore for Network for Spectrum project - an alternate communication network being built by the state-run BSNL for defence services in lieu of spectrum given by Defence Ministry for commercial mobile services.

Apart from this, budget document also shows that for the ongoing Bharat Net project, the government has proposed to allocate Rs 8,000 crore for providing broadband services in 1.5 lakh gram panchayats.

"The task of connecting 1 lakh gram panchayats with high-speed optic fibre network has been completed under Phase 1 of Bharat Net Program. This has enabled broadband access to cover rural Indians in about 2.5 lakh villages. The government also proposed to set up 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens," Jaitley said.

The Rs 10,000-crore outlay includes Rs 524 crore for setting up additional 156 towers in Maoist-affected areas and upgrade of bandwidth at 302 VSAT sites from existing 512 Kbps to 1 Mbps.

The Finance Ministry has proposed to allocate Rs 450 crore for 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas, Rs 443.29 crore for providing optical fibre cable-based connectivity in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.

Jaitley also announced that the Department of Telecom will set up a test centre for 5th generation telecom technology with IIT, Chennai.

The minister also allocated Rs 134.48 crore for setting up of the "5G connectivity Test Bed".

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