August 10, 2020 1:58:36 am
The DoT’s Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s Common Services Centre (CSC) have buried the hatchet on the shifting on equipment used for last mile internet connectivity and have agreed to work together for now, senior government officials close to the development said.
Following meetings in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) between officials from BBNL and CSC, the two agencies decided it was in everyone’s best interest if CSC continued to work on last mile connectivity under BharatNet as agreed.
Earlier this year in May, BBNL Chairman Sarvesh Singh had written to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) alleging that CSC had violated terms of a tripartite agreement by shifting equipment used for last mile connectivity without informing the former. This, Singh had said in his letter, would be a hindrance in providing non-discriminatory access to all telecom and internet service providers.
On its part, CSC had defended its move to shift equipment alleging that in most cases, the equipment for last mile connectivity was kept by BBNL at places where there was hardly any power connectivity or security.
“Some of the equipment was stolen. These equipment were kept in the panchayat buildings or municipal schools where they remain locked at night and the caretaker of such buildings used to switch off the internet and go home. So we suggested to the
DoT that to maintain these equipment, regular power supply and maintenance is needed and hence the CSC should be allowed to move equipment,” a senior CSC official said.
BBNL, however, had objected to the idea and said that since the equipment belonged to the central government, allowing village level entrepreneurs to transfer all machines without any accountability could not be allowed.
“BBNL was of the view that the CSCs’ habit of leaving the VLE (village level entrepreneur) completely independent and free is not possible in the case of government assets. If and when an auditing of the equipment is done, BBNL will be held responsible if any equipment or machinery is missing,” a DoT official said.
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