Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited has withdrawn Rs 190 billion tender that was floated for connecting villages across 16 states with an optical fibre-based high-speed broadband network. This move comes in the backdrop of the lack of participation of eligible bidders.

The project was approved in June 2021. The project entailed roll out an optical fibre network under BharatNet mission in 16 states under public-private-partnership (PPP) model with to the tune of Rs 294.30 billion.

To this end, the central government had approved a viability gap fund of Rs 190.41 billion for the project that aimed to connect 3.61 lakh villages across 16 states. The project was divided into nine packages, and tenders for each of the packages were floated separately.

Going forward, the tender is expected to be floated again after considering feedback from the industry. The BharatNet project was approved in 2011 with an aim to connect 2.5 lakh panchayats with the optical fibre network by 2013. The project now has been extended to 2025 now. According to official data, over 1.69 lakh village panchayats have been made service-ready for broadband services under BharatNet as of December 31, 2021.