Road to Digital India: TRAI seeks suggestions on BharatNet implementation

After various suggestions the government comes to public for best mode of the programme that will help make Digital India a success

GN Bureau | November 18, 2015



BharatNet will be backbone of India’s ambition to be digitally connected. It has faced various hiccups and changes over the years since its conception as an idea. Now, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on ‘Implementation model for BharatNet’.

Digital India is main programme that brings strands of communication and information technology together for digital empowerment of citizens and delivering better governance.  And establishment of broadband highways forms the first pillar of Digital India.

The government knows that timely commissioning of a reorganized version of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is very imperative in this direction. But the implementation of NOFN has moved as per plans and TRAI had given certain recommendations in April this year.

The department of telecommunication had appointed an expert committee which resulted in the renaming of the project as BharatNet. It also spoke of three implementation models.

The consultation paper issued today is to discuss best model for implementation of BharatNet.

The CP raises the following main implementation and policy issues:
 

  • The “Report of the Committee on NOFN” has recommended three models and risks/advantages associated with these models.  What are the other challenges with these models?
  • Whether these three models along with implementation strategy as indicated in the report would be able to deliver the project within the costs and time-line as envisaged in the report?
  • Whether alternate implementation strategy of BOOT model will be more suitable (such as cost, execution and quality of construction) for completing the project in time?
  • What are the advantages and challenges associated with the BOOT model?
  • What should be the eligibility criteria for the executing agency so that conflict of interest can be avoided?
  • What measures are required to be taken to avoid monopolistic behaviour of executing agency?
  • What terms and conditions should be imposed on the executing agency so that it provides bandwidth/fibre in fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner?
  • What should be the methodology of funding the project?  In case of VGF, what should be the maximum value of VGF for each State/ service area and what should be the terms and conditions for making payments?
  • What measures should be put in place in case the executing agency earns windfall profits?
  • Whether there is a need to mandate the number of fibres to be offered as a dark fibre to other operators to ensure more than one operator is available for providing bandwidth at GP level?
  • What measures are required so that broadband services remain affordable to the public at large?
  • The success of BOOT Model depends on participation of private entities which will encourage competition. What measures should be adopted to ensure large scale participation by them?


Copy of the full text of the CP is available on TRAI website:www.trai.gov.in.  The written comments on the issues raised in the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by December 7, 2015. For any clarification/information  contact Arvind Kumar, advisor (NSL), TRAI  on telephone number +91-11-23220209 and fax +91-11—23230056.

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