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Govt tells states to adopt Andhra model for BharatNet project

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The Government of India has asked the states to follow the Andhra Pradesh model for laying optic fibre cable lines over electric poles, so as to complete the BharatNet project by December 2018.

The National Optical Fibre Network, rechristened as BharatNet, is aimed at providing 100 Mbps broadband connectivity to more than 2.50 lakh gram panchayats across the country.

The BharatNet project implementation has been rather slow owing to a number of factors, including the inability of Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) to procure optical network termination equipment in time as well as major gaps in the implementation strategy, according to Telecom Secretary J S Deepak.

On April 30, the Telecom Commission approved a revised strategy for a three-phase implementation of the BharatNet project.

The first phase envisages providing one lakh gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by laying underground OFC lines by March 2017, Deepak said in a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states last week.

“The second phase will provide connectivity to all 2,50,500 gram panchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media. It is to be completed by December 2018,” he added.

For success in phase-2, which will also involve laying of OFC over electricity poles, the participation of states will be important. This is a new element of the BharatNet strategy as the mode of connectivity by aerial OFC has several advantages, including lower cost, speedier implementation, easy maintenance and utilisation of existing power line infrastructure, he pointed out.

In the third phase, between 2018 and 2023, state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fibre between districts and blocks, with ring topology to provide redundancy would be created, Deepak further said.

Andhra Pradesh has followed an innovative approach in using technology for mapping lines using resources of MGNREG scheme and those of the power department.

“The most remarkable feature of Andhra Pradesh mapping has been that the entire state-wide mapping was accomplished in a week. After the mapping, the state has laid about 10,000-km of aerial OFC on electrical poles in a time of three months,” Deepak said.

“As connectivity in BharatNet phase-2 is planned partly through aerial OFC and since each state has robust power infrastructure up to the gram panchayat level, this could be used for laying of aerial OFC cable on top of electricity poles. However, the first step in this is mapping of electricity lines, from block down to gram panchayats, urgently. States are, therefore, encouraged to follow the procedure adopted by Andhra Pradesh,” the Secretary told the Chief Secretaries in the letter.

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