Niranjan Sharma , Sr. General Manager , UM Cables Limited
The BharatNet project started with an aim to provide fiber connectivity to 250,000 gram panchayats (GPs), which will require around 600,000 kilometer to 800,000 kilometer of optical fiber cable along with utilization of existing infrastructure of various PSUs. Till date, we could see around 20,000 GPs are connected which is less than 10 percent of total projected connectivity after almost 3–4 years of initiating the project.
This project was having several issues from the start for tendering and contract management, which eventually got streamlined but the execution is still on a very slow pace. In the first phase, 100,000 GPs are to be connected, which was scheduled to complete by March 2017 and in the second phase, the balance 150,000 GPs are to be connected. Looking at the actual numbers, we are running behind schedule and a renewed strategy and revised timelines are needed for execution.
Also in the recent time, there is a global scarcity of optical fiber which will have an adverse impact on timelines, if speed of execution is not increased significantly. There are several activities involved in execution which include digging, trenching, laying, connecting, and termination which start after cable reaches respective store locations in each state.
This time, PSUs are roped in to execute the projects which will speed up total execution as different PSUs act independently and parallelly. To speed up the execution, vendors should be partnered and given a chance to come up with various plans for a timely desired outcome.
Once the infrastructure is in place, role of service providers comes into picture to offer various services on the network. Lot of initiatives are needed from various telecom operators in this area.
UM Cables has been a major supplier to BharatNet project from the beginning with a timely supply record. We shall continue the same and be a partner to BharatNet project supporting fully the government's Digital India initiative.