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BSNL to float tender for defence optical fibre cable network
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<img style="float:left; margin: 0px 10px 0px 0px;" src="http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/11/23/images/2009112351570101.jpg"/>Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has been instructed by Mr Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister, to float a global tender for setting up the optical fibre cable network for the defence forces on December 7.

The optical cable network, which will connect key installation of the Air Force, Army and the Navy across the country, is estimated to cost around Rs 10,000 crore.

The cable network is part of the commitment made to the defence forces in return for agreeing to release 25 Mhz of spectrum for third generation mobile services. According to the action plan stitched together by Mr Pitroda, the Telecom Commission will meet on Monday to approve the optical fibre project.

Then, the Department of Telecom will move a note for the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, which is expected to meet on December 3 to consider granting Rs 10,000 crore for the cable network. Once the Cabinet gives its approval, the DoT and the defence will sign a formal agreement on December 7.

The rollout will be monitored at different levels starting from a mission team headed by the BSNL Chairman. This team will also have one representative each from the DoT and the Ministry of Defence.

The progress of the project will also be monitored by the Secretary of DoT, the Cabinet Secretary and the Empowered Group of Ministers periodically. The entire network is expected to be completed within 3 years. BSNL will finalise the supplier by July 31, 2010 and the rollout will begin from November 30, according to the action plan.

The Defence will release 25 Mhz of spectrum for the auction to be held in January. However, the operators who win the bids will be able to use the spectrum only by June as the defence forces have sought time to move their existing equipment.
Rs 10,000-cr project key to 3G spectrum vacation.

Pitroda’s action plan

Nov 23: Telecom Commission to approve OFC network project

Nov 26: DoT to circulate note for CCEA’s approval

Dec 3: CCEA meeting to consider Rs 10,000-crore grant for the network

Dec 7: BSNL to invite bids for rolling out the network

Dec 7: DoT and defence to sign agreement formally

Dec 8: DoT to put out detailed 3G rules

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