New Delhi: After considerable dithering, the government appears to have finally made up its mind to seek funds to build a Rs9,970.16 crore ($2 billion) dedicated, highly secure and state-of-the-art optical fibre cable (OFC) network for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. So far, discussions and meetings have focused more on getting the armed forces to 'vacate valuable 3G spectrum' for exploitation by private commercial operators, rather than to expedite the setting up of a secure communications network for its armed forces.
Given the size of the Indian defence services, it is certain to become one of the world's largest, closed user group (CUG) networks meant for exclusive use, when it comes into existence.
Apparently, the next step in this long drawn process is to get the Department of Telecom (DoT) to prepare a 'note' for the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which will then provide financial approvals for this network. But this 'note' will only materialise once approval is received from the full Telecom Commission, which meets on 28 August.
The Commission comprises the secretaries of DoT, Planning Commission, ministry of external affairs, department of information technology and DIPP.
Approval will be sought for Rs8,893 crore to build an OFC network for the army and navy from the DoT budget, and for transferring the assets created to the defence ministry after completion. The government has already approved Rs1,077.16 crore to build the air force leg of the project.
In exchange for this network, the defence forces are then expected to release 25 MHz of pan-India spectrum.