He said that by December-end, one-lakh gram panchayats (GPs) will be ready to offer services.
Under the first phase, the government planned to connect 3 lakh villages in 1 lakh panchayats to broadband, and it will be complete by next month, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said.
RJio paid the highest advance subscription fee of Rs 13 crore to provide broadband services at 30,000 village panchayats, Bharti Airtel will cover 30,500 village panchayats while Vodafone and Idea would offer services in 2,000 and 1,000 villages, respectively.
"BharatNet Phase I is 90 per cent completed".
The total project cost of BharatNet is around Rs45,000 crore, of which Rs11,200 crore have been used for the first phase. More than 85,000 Global Positioning System are service-ready now and 75,000 Global Positioning System can start providing services to the villages now, he added.
BharatNet, earlier known as National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, is part of Narendra Modi government's Digital India initiatives, which also include setting up of SWAN (State Wide Area Network) for government offices and NKN (National Knowledge Network) for all educational institutes. However, only a few hundred kilometre, out of 3 lakh kilometre of optical fibre, were laid across the country.
The telecom ministry will sign memoranda of understanding (MoU) with seven states, including Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
Speaking on the occasion, Ravi Shankar Prasad described the launch of Phase II as a turning point to bring digital revolution that would bridge the digital divide between rural and urban India.
The government expects to complete the entire BharatNet project, entailing an investment of ₹42,000 crore in both the phases, by March 2019.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has organised a national conference with the state governments and service providers to showcase various models for leveraging BharatNet infrastructure and sign memoranda of understanding with service providers and state governments.
Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu Kashmeer are among the states where the connectivity hasn't reached yet. So, we will provide viability gap funding of around $550 million (around Rs 3600 crore) to telecom operators. Under BharatNet Phase I, the government has set up 15,000 wi-fi hotspots, of which around 11,000 are in rural areas and the rest in semi-rural areas.