Dubbing connectivity as the most crucial element of Digital India, telecom regulator TRAI today suggested a public-private partnership model for the ambitious BharatNet project, saying such an arrangement will ensure maintenance and marketing of the mega infrastructure.
“We did a consultation with all stakeholders and came to the conclusion that this project can be best implemented using PPP whereby you give an area on a viability gap funding basis… choose an operator… ask him to build, operate and own the infrastructure and after 20 years, transfer it back to the government,” Trai Chairman R S Sharma said at a Nasscom meet here.
The government has proposed to provide broadband connectivity to 2,50,000 village panchayats under the ambitious BharatNet project.
Sharma said a PPP model would overcome difficulties related to maintenance, marketing and usage of infrastructure.
“There can be incentive alignment in such a way that the person doing this is interested in getting it done swiftly and ensures infrastructure quality and proper marketing,” he said.
“The whole issue is in consideration of the government. Of course, without PPP model, over 1,00,000 panchayats have been covered… even in these panchayats, if you want to ensure proper marketing and proper utilisation, it is a good idea to give it on a PPP basis to someone who will maintain and market the infrastructure.”
He is of the view that wireless alone cannot solve the problem of data connectivity in the country.
“We should not be complacent that whatever is coming through 3G, 4G technologies and data packs will be good enough to satisfy the rising demand of data in this country. We need to think of wired solution to this problem as wireless alone cannot solve this problem,” he said.
With regard to the public wi-fi hotspots, Sharma suggested that common service centres could be used as common hotspots for wi-fi connectivity.