"We are trying to come out with the new telecom policy by February 2018. High level working groups have started working towards it. We expect to finalise the draft telecom policy by December and place it for public comments," Sinha told reporters at a press meet.
Talking about BharatNet, the flagship project of the government to provide broadband services in rural and remote areas, the minister said telecom service providers (TSP) have come forward for utilizing the BharatNet connectivity.
Under BharatNet programme, the government plans to provide broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs).
"Airtel has shown interest in 10,000 GPs for taking 1 Gbps connectivity on lease while Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea are interested in taking 100 Mbps connectivity on lease in about 30,000, 2,000 and 1,000 GPs respectively," the minister said.
"The rolling out of services by TSPs in these GPs are expected to trigger the village level eco-system thereby widening the extent to cover more number of GPs in near future. This will give an impetus to broadband facilities in rural India," he added.
The minister said as on 05 November 2017, optical fibre cable (OFC) connectivity has been achieved in 103,275 GPs by laying fibre for 238,677 km.
Sinha said in order to provide affordable broadband services in rural India, a new attractive and affordable tariff structure has been decided with "the principle of more you use, less you pay".
This tariff structure is expected to be reflected in the tariffs to be charged from the consumers by the service providers.
"For asymmetrical bandwidth between a block to GPs, the charges per annum vary from Rs 700 per Mbps for up to 10Mbps and Rs 200 per Mbps for 1 Gbps. However, for symmetrical bandwidth between a block to GP, charges have been prescribed as Rs 1,000 per Mbps up to 10Mbps, and Rs 500 per Mbps for 100 Mbps per annum. Tariff for any intermediate Bandwidth shall be calculated on a pro-rata basis," the minister added.