Special purpose vehicle BBNL on Tuesday invited bids for Rs 19,041 crore BharatNet project to roll out high-speed broadband services in the rural areas across 16 states.
The government will only provide viability gap funding under the project.
"Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) has invited global tender for the development (creation, upgradation, operation and maintenance and utilisation) of BharatNet through a public-private partnership model in 9 separate packages across 16 states for a concession period of 30 years," BBNL said in a statement.
Under the project, the government plans to cover an estimated 3.61 lakh villages (including gram panchayats) across Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
The existing BharatNet was connecting all the gram panchayats (GPs) of the country by laying OFC (primarily) between Block and GPs.
The scope of BharatNet has now been enhanced to connect all inhabited villages, approximately 6.43 lakhs, of the country.