BPL, Konkan Railway in Internet venture

BPL Telecom is partnering the Konkan Railway Corporation in an Internet venture. The two are forming a joint venture to make use of the telecom backbone created by Konkan Railway along the 760-km Panvel-Mangalore route. Konkan Railway will lease out its spare telecom capacity to the joint venture for a mutually agreed fee.

The joint venture will provide Internet service in small towns along the railway route in the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka and, at a later date, when the domestic long distance market is opened up for private participation, use the facility for voice traffic.

Konkan Railway has laid 12 pairs of optic fibre cables along the route, of which it is using six for signalling and railway telecom network requirements. Konkan Railway managing director N. Rajaram says his organisation wants to make productive use of the spare capacity to earn additional revenues. He estimates that Konkan Railway could earn Rs 10 crore in the first year of operations of the joint venture. The figure would rise as Internet usage expands in the towns along the railway's route.

Konkan Railway will take a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture.

This is the third railway telecom infrastructure project that has been tied up so far. In an earlier agreement, BPL Telecom has joined hands with the Rail India Technical and Economic Services to develop a telecom infrastructure along the Mumbai-Chennai corridor. Also, the Indian Railway Construction Corporation, is partnering British Telecommunications and Enron to develop a similar telecom facility in the Mumbai-Delhi sector of Western Railway.