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Recommendation on new BharatNet model by December-end: TRAI - nairrk - 12-21-2015

Telecom regulator TRAI expects to finalize by December-end the recommendations on new model to roll out BharatNet, which is aimed at providing broadband network across country.

“By end of this month, we should be able to give final recommendation on this (BharatNet) issue to government,” TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said today after open house discussion on BharatNet.

The regulator also granted time till Monday for comment submission to people interested in BharatNet consultation. TRAI has proposed a new model to operationalize BharatNet after the project repeatedly failed to meet deadline for laying out optical fibre network across 2.5 lakh village panchayats.

“Some views regarding the implementation have been raised and therefore the Authority looked into one more possible alternate model- Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model,” TRAI said in its paper on BharatNet.

Under the BOOT model, a company (concessionaire) designs, builds, and operates infrastructure such as power plants and highways for a period of time, and then transfers it to the government. Industry representative, however, were unanimous on basic hurdle of cumbersome clearance process for laying out OFC and demanded easing and lowering the cost of permits.

The first model used to deploy the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) was led by centre public sector units, under which a special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) was formed and optical fibre were to be deployed by BSNL,MTNL and RailTel.

However, the deployment has been very slow. The project was approved by the Cabinet in October 2011 with an outlay of Rs 20,100 crore. 

The project was later renamed BharatNet, and the government decided to use CPSUs as well as state governments and the private sector. The BharatNet project proposes using of spectrum and satellite as well for spreading broadband in the country that would take the project cost to over 72,000 crore.

As per data shared by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Parliament, an amount of Rs 3,054.43 crore had been released for the project till October 2015.

“As on December 6, 2015, OFC laying in 32,272 gram panchayats have been completed,” Prasad said.