Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has signed an agreement with the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to set up 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas in next six months.
The project shall be funded from the USO Fund, with the government providing full capital expenditure and operational expenditure (OPEX) support to the tune of Rs. 940 crores for the project, a statement by the telco said.
“The OPEX support of 100 percent shall be provided by USOF for the first year and thereafter 75 percent in the second year, 50 percent support in the third year of operation shall be extended to BSNL,” the statement said. “Under this project, one Wi-Fi access point shall be set up initially in each rural exchange.”
The state-owned telco has also set the target of achieving 11 per cent market share within next 12 months. “This time, we have seen a growth of 0.3 percent in the market share. Next time when we meet, it should not be less than 10 (per cent). I expect it to be 10.5 percent, but if it crosses 11 percent, we will take whatsoever special steps required for BSNL,” said Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha at the event.
The market share of BSNL has increased to 9.35 percent, from 9.05 percent a year ago. The minister said the government is committed to provide Internet connectivity in rural far-flung areas as well and bridge the digital divide.
BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said, BSNL is already in the process of deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots in a big way and will be able to deliver this Wi-Fi project in six to eight months time.
The statement said reliable internet service through these Wi-Fi hotspots shall be provided through robust fibre backhaul of the BSNL and Gigabit Passive Optical Network connectivity being extended through BharatNet Project.