Updated: July 23, 2020 12:41:05 am
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has for now overruled objections by private contractors and asked the Common Service Centres (CSC) to complete the work of providing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and WiFi connections from the panchayat level to individual homes.
“So far CSCs have completed providing 1 lakh FTTH connections, and the target has been set at five lakh connections by September end. The DoT does not want work to be hampered due to red tape. So for phase one, CSCs have been given the go ahead,” an official close to the development said.
These connections, being provided by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY’s) CSC under BharatNet phase one, had faced stiff opposition from private contractors who had approached the DoT with allegations that CSCs were exercising monopoly by providing services at unviable costs.
On July 10, some of the private contractors working on providing FTTH and WiFi connections under BharatNet phase one had approached the DoT with grievances that cost per kilometre quoted by CSCs in ensuring connections to individual houses from the panchayat was unviable in the long run. The CSCs had, in the meeting, defended their system, and argued that anyone who could provide better services at lower costs was welcome to do it.
“For now, it is not a very profitable venture. So the CSCs are doing it. In 4-5 years when the demand picks up, private operators will want to look into getting this space again,” another official said.
The CSCs, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for essential services such as banking, insurance, education, among others, had last year started the work on BharatNet by allowing village level entrepreneurs to do the service and maintenance work on existing infrastructure. The BharatNet project, which initially began as the National Optical Fibre Network in October 2011,has been delayed for over 92 months now. The new deadline is August 2021.
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