TRAI recommends Dot Use Optical Fibre Network to Extend Telecom Coverage in Himachal Pradesh

BSNL is putting in place a national OFC network as part of Project Kranti, commonly known as Network Of Spectrum (NFS). In order to expand telecom coverage in the remote districts of Himachal Pradesh, the telecom regulator TRAI proposed on Monday that the Department of Telecommunications contact the defence ministry for access to a portion of its optical fibre network or adequate bandwidth.

The regulator suggested that the villages in four districts Lahaul and Spiti, Mandi, Kullu, and Chamba that have not yet been connected as part of the BharatNet Project be done so right away using VSAT media that can be given up as soon as the optical fibre cable (OFC) backhaul be made available.

There are 181 undeveloped villages in the designated districts, of which 14 are slated to be covered under the “354 villages project” and 142 under the “Saturation of 4G Mobile” initiative of the USOF. 25 villages are still not covered by these programmes in terms of telecom.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) approach the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the allocation of one and two pairs of OFC on the NFS network in order to extend telecom coverage (including broadband services) to a village located in far-flung or border areas as in state under BharatNet.

If the same is not practical, Trai suggested that the MoD be asked to deploy adequate bandwidth on its currently operational OFC to expand telecom coverage to so villages.

A statewide OFC network is being built by BSNL as part of Project Kranti, also known as the Network for Spectrum (NFS), wherein over 60,000 kilometres of OFC are being rolled out for the sole use of the defence forces in place of 65MHz spectrum that the defence gave up for auction by the DoT.

The regulator stated that it has previously received a reference on enabling ICR for isolated, hilly areas that are regularly subject to emergency situations caused by natural disasters, and that it will make separate recommendations in this regard following appropriate consultations.

The government should use the Universal Services Obligation Fund to pay for the capital expenditures (Capex) and operating expenditures (Opex) necessary to provide telecom infrastructure and connectivity to 25 unconnected villages (located in the three revenue districts of Lahaul & Spiti, Kullu, and Chamba) (USOF).

The HP state government should be contacted about not charging telecom service providers and IP-Is for right of way (RoW) fees for linking the state’s rural and hilly areas, including all locations of four districts, TRAI said.

A controller had also recommended that the DoT brought up with the state government, NHAI, and BRO the requirement that all road construction, road widening, or other related works be done in advance coordination with telecom operators, and that the contractor’s obligation to make payments for damages to telecom operators be included ab-initio within contracts.

“In like, DoT should discuss the potential of installing utility ducts as part of all upcoming road expansion and new road building projects with the state government of HP. This will facilitate the state’s rapid deployment of all utility infrastructure, including telecom “explained TRAI.

In order to consider providing electricity to telecom sites within 15 days of connections requests at the utility or industrial tariffs and to consider waiving last-mile installation fees for extending electrical contact to telecom sites in remote or hilly areas, the regulator has recommended that the DoT take up the matter with the Himachal government.