Central government to rope in private sector to lay fibre optic cables under NOFN

In order to fast track the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, the central government plans to rope in the private sector to lay the fibre optic cables to cover 50,000 gram panchayats, located in Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand in the next round of the project, bids or which would be invited towards the end of February.

This development follows the telecom regulator TRAI issuing a consultation paper last September, flagging the matter of awarding turnkey contracts in NOFN to private players speed up execution.

According to Aruna Sundararajan, CMD, Bharat Broadband Network (BBNL), a government arm created to manage the NOFN, the company would be calling bids from the private sector to lay the cables for the next round of the project.

This would probably happen by the end of this February.

According to a spokesperson of BBNL, it had not yet been decided whether the contract would be awarded to private players on a turnkey basis, or if they would be restricted to laying down the cables only.

Sundararajan added, the electronics equipment for the project, in its entirety was being manufactured indigenously by a company based out of Bangalore.

She said the designing had been done by CDOT and it was entirely made in India.

Meanwhile, Northern Voices reported that the first step in the NOFN had been taken with the selection of Kerala as the first state where the project was slated to kick off.

On Monday, Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would visit the state to inaugurate the project that had the potential to provide fast internet, connecting remote villages to the world.

If things were to progress as scheduled, by March-end Kerala would become digitally connected and once the target was achieved other southern states would be targeted including Karnataka and Seemandhra.

The national broadband network plan would bring some 20,000 villages across India in the  optic fibre network.