Andhrapradesh Accelerates NOFN Project

India’s southern state of Andhrapradesh is planning to connect around 12,909 administrative units (called gram panchayats in India), 46,000 government offices, hospitals and educational institutions through a vast network of fiber optic cables. The state government aims to deliver wireless broadband, which is one of the practically viable solutions at the last miles in most of the villages. The project will be implemented within the next three years. .

The project for covering the state with fiber optic networks is estimated at around 740 million US dollars. Around 82.4 percent of the total project cost will be funded by the central government and the remaining 17.6 percent will be provided by the state government. As most of the fund is taken care by the central government, the state does not need to worry much about financing the project. Indian central government had initiated nationwide fiber optic project called as National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN), which is now under preview of the prime minister’s office to accelerate delayed deployments.

Indian telecom planning officials and regulatory authority, TRAI in 2010 had proposed to the then central government to finish NOFN deployment of fiber optic cables in more than 250,000 villages throughout India by 2015. The telecom ministry could not carry out the proposals effectively and NOFN projects are delayed, without a clear picture of its finishing date. National optic fiber networks if finished, are aimed at providing faster broadband services to India’s rural mass that will reduce the digital divide.

Ever since the state of Andhrapradesh was split in to two states – Andhrapradesh and Telengana, we have been hearing massive investment plans in telecommunication sector in both states. The state of Telengana invited google to invest in fiber optic networks in the state. The state of Andhrapradesh invited Furukawa, NEC and Panasonic to the state to invest in telecom sectors. It is a positive sign that the state governments are focusing on infrastructure developments rather than being engaged in dirty linen washing.

Central government’s contribution to the current proposed fiber optic network project would be in excess of 609 million US dollars, while the state government will invest around 130 million US dollars. Official deployment of the network will start from the auspicious Indian festival of Dussehra, which is on October 22 this year. The officials responsible for the network has been designing the network with the help of Geographical Information System. Reports say, more than 55,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable routes have already been designed and prepared to be implemented.

Ultimate aim of state government is to provide free wifi connectivity to all villages, educational institutions, hospitals along with 46,000 government institutions. Government also intends to deliver affordable internet to majority of the households in the state. Once the project is completed, the fiber optic cables will be the backbone to deliver broadband services to the homes. Around 12 million houses in the state will be benefited to receive broadband internet that has speeds of up to 20 Mbps. Affordable internet in practical Indian scenario that can compel even the lower middle income groups will be around 3 US dollars per month.

The fiber optic grid is designed to have two main rings that will cover 2,491 kilometers across 13 districts in the state. The project will connect to all small administrative units called gram panchayats from next higher administrative unit called mandal headquarters that are already connected through the BSNL fiber optic network. End user connectivity from gram panchayats to schools and other educational institutions, primary health centres and government offices will be done through wifi.

The state government has already issued Right of Way (ROW) orders for the smooth execution of the project. A pilot project is under progress in Parwada Mandal of Vizag district where villages under 17 gram panchayats are being linked with wifi. PGCIL (Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd) is executing the project. Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), the special purpose vehicle created by Ccentral government will establish, manage and operate the network grid under the National Optical Fiber Network. District collectors will also monitor the progress of work in their respective districts.

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