The BharatNet project aims to bridge the rural-urban digital divide by enhancing connectivity across villages. The project is being implemented in a phased manner to provide broadband connectivity infrastructure across all 250,000 gram panchayats in the country. Last-mile connectivity is broadly being established through Wi-Fi and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). As per government data, as of
June 2021, data consumption on the BharatNet network crossed 13,000 terabytes (TB). Further, as per Bharat Broadband Network Limited, owing to the BharatNet network, today there are more than 1.5 million registered Wi-Fi users in rural India, and data consumption in these areas jumped 400 per cent during 2020.
The accompanying table gives the state/union territory (UT)-wise details of gram panchayats that are service ready and have deployed Wi-Fi hotspots for last-mile connectivity. As per the data, at present, Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed in 104,400 gram panchayats across India. Of these, hotspots are operational in 64,927 gram panchayats.
Amongst the states, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of gram panchayats with Wi-Fi infrastructure in place, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab. Uttar Pradesh also accounts for the highest number of active users, approximately 0.8 million. However, the average data consumption per active user lies well below the national average of 1.18 GB.
Chhattisgarh, on the other hand, has 3,664 service-ready gram panchayats, of which 3,662 have operational Wi-Fi hotspots. Further, 96 per cent of service-ready gram panchayats in Punjab provide operational Wi-Fi services, with the average data consumption crossing 10 GB. Karnataka, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Chandigarh and Kerala are some of the states/UTs where over 50 per cent of the service-ready gram panchayats have operational Wi-Fi services. Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands do not have a single gram panchayat equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots.