Reliance Jio Lease Fiber From Government Under BharatNet Initiative
The government of India’s BharatNet programme under which around 250000 gram panchayats are to be connected to broadband by the end of 2018. Though it has not induced desired interest. In the turn of event Reliance Jio could become the first telecom operator in India to lease fiber being laid to the govt of India under the BharatNet initiative.
Mukesh Ambani owned company is in talks with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to lease dark or unused optic fibre and is studying business prospects to use it in the states of Haryana and Karnataka said one of the top government officials.
Speaking to the Economic Times, DoT additional secretary, Mr N. Sivasailam said “The backhaul connectivity is already available and they (Jio) asked us for an opportunity in Karnataka and Haryana. They want to take it (fibre) to mobile towers.”
He further stated that Reliance Jio is carrying out a feasibility study at different locations in the two states where they would like to go, depending on a ‘business case’ scenario. The rates at which the optic fibre can be lease will vary from state to state and would be worked out at a minimum of Rs 2000 per km.
The government has not got desired response to the BharatNet Programme which was ascertained by a committee formed in 2015. It states “The efforts of Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) to explore dark fibre leasing from private service providers have not borne much fruit.”
Earlier Jio started its commercial services last September had not responded to the emailed query before the matter was raised in the press. Even Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have not responded to the emails sent.
Around 210000 km of optic fibre is already laid by the government of India under the BharatNet initiative with around 4735 gram panchayat, or village blocks, in Karnataka.
Mr Sivasailam also mentioned about telecom service providers being able to implement optical line terminal (OLT) at the block level and the department will facilitate digital connectivity. This will also be used to connect local entrepreneurs and small businesses.
In order to ensure efficiently using the infrastructure created through government investment, earlier a panel made suggestions that 50% pairs of dark fibre at gram panchayats be set aside for the allocation to telecom service providers, multi-system operators, local cable operators and Internet service providers.
The panel included the ministry of electronics and IT secretary Aruna Sundararajan, former IT secretary J Satyanarayana and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing director general Rajat Moona.
The BharatNet initiative was launched by the UPA-II government in 2011 and has taken a backseat since then until recently is being reviewed and getting prominence in the current NDA regime as it lays empowers the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ programme.
Later speaking to EconomicTime, Telecom minister Manoj Sinha said that the phase II of the project, which could cost about Rs 40,000 crore, would soon be taken to the Cabinet for approval.”