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TRAI moots BOOT model for implementing BharatNet

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) as one of the models for implementing BharatNet or the National Broadband Plan (NBP) to expand the footprint of broadband networks nationally.

Under the proposed scheme of BOOT model, the executing agency will be selected based on competitive bidding for a licensed service area (LSA) or state, or a combination of both. Minimum viability gap funding (VGF) bidding will be the basis for selecting the agency.

The agency will build, operate and own the network during the concession period. It will be entitled to proceeds of revenue earned due to the sale of dark fibre/bandwidth.

At the end of the concession period, the infrastructure created shall stand transferred to the government (T of the BOOT model), the authority proposed.

In contrast, three models suggested in the report envisage that networks be built/owned/operated by different entities and, once infrastructure is created, BBNL/ SPV auction dark fibres to TSPs/MSOs/ISPs.

The other three models suggested in the consultation paper are: (a) central public sector undertaking (CPSU)-led, (b) state government-led and (c) private sector-led (EPC/Consortia).

The CPSU would be required to complete the entire network segment on a turnkey basis. After commissioning of the network, necessary monitoring operations would be carried out through a centralised network operation centre (NOC) under the management and control of BBNL.

In the state government-led implementation model, the state government shall design, customise according to its requirements, implement, commission, manage and operate the network. For the same, the state government shall create or assign a state special purpose vehicle (SPV) for carrying out all project activities.

In the private sector-led model, bids will be invited from a consortium on a build-and-maintain basis with the lead bidder for single window clearance. The consortium should include engineering procurement and construction (EPC), network original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or system integrator and managed services provider.

The authority has sought stakeholders’ views whether the three models along with implementation strategy indicated in the report would be able to deliver the project within the costs and timeline as envisaged in the report.

BharatNet is the newer, updated and upgraded version of the national optical fibre network (NOFN). The objective is to achieve 175-million broadband connections by 2017 and 600 million by 2020 at a minimum of 2 Mbps download speed. Availability of higher speeds of at least 100 Mbps on demand is dependent on the success of the NOFN.

Click here for the Consultation Paper on Implementation Model for BharatNet.