The telecom commission will meet on August 4 to take a call on the expert panel’s report that recommended a threefold increase in cost for the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project to R72,778 crore from R21,000 crore approved earlier.
Top government sources said given the timelines for implementation of the NOFN project under the expert panel recommendations that has fixed December 2017 for commissioning of the NOFN project, the decision has to be taken soon to meet the deadline.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is understood to have largely given a go-ahead to the NOFN expert committee’s recommendations. The recommendations by the expert committee are aimed at galvanising the project, which hasn’t made much headway in the past few years, in the context of the Prime Minister’s ambitious bid to connect the people of India through Digital India over the next few years.
The NOFN project was approved by the cabinet in 2011 and the deadline to connect all panchayats was fixed as end of 2013, then deferred to September 2015 by the UPA government.
The government re-examined the project status and set a target to complete the roll-out in 50,000 village panchayats by March 31, 2015, and another 1 lakh by March 2016 and the rest by the end of 2016.
Besides, the telecom commission on August 4 will also take a call on Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) seeking microwave backbone (MWB) frequency on a priority basis.
The backhaul spectrum is essentially required for RJio as it plans to start its telecom services in the country early next year. The non-availability of MWB frequency carriers is severely hampering the roll-out of its network.