IT Taskforce
Basic Background  Report
9th June 1998


 

VIII LII-NII-GII & INFRASTRUCTURE

8.1 Information Infrastructure

A systematic plan should be drawn to extend fibre optic connectivity to the sub-district levels,. Such an approach is necessary for the benefits of computerisation to reach the common man. The Government of India should plan to have such connectivity physically in place for high bandwidth applications at the sub-district levels before the end of the ninth plan period. Plans should also be drawn to ensure that the entire country is covered with such networks by the year 2008. The Development of the backbone for the National Infrastructure should be taken up on a Mission mode.

8.2 DOT Backbone

i) DOT achievement and the Last Mile

In under three years DOT laid more than 72000 route kilometres of the Fibre optic backbone throughout the length and breadth of the country. This is an extraordinary achievement surpassing those of most developed and newly-developed countries. This achievement has not received the accolades it richly deserves. The Task Force, in its awareness creation role should arrange the widest possible publicity within the country and abroad for this achievement of DOT, especially the fact, now proven, that DOT can achieve much under pressure of competition from Private and public sector competitors – This vindicates the stand of the private sector Telecom enterprises that a basic new role for DOT is the creation of nationwide Telecom Infrastructure. Significantly, these 72000 route kilometers of the fibre optic capacity is presently utilised in a mere single digit percentage as the last mile between the backbone and the customers/users is mostly not in place.

To convert this ‘lost mile’ problem into a ‘last mile’ solution, the Government of India should advise DOT to cash on its backbone investment but abstain from making the last mile investment and leave it entirely to the Private and Public Sector promoters of IT applications. It is estimated that, if a government policy to this effect is announced by the Government through this Task Force, the Private Sector and Public Sector IT application-promoters can find the entire investment required within 3 to 6 months. It should be emphasized that the ‘last mile’ problem is basically multi-media application oriented and is not a pure and simple telecom capacity provision for the customers/users. As thousands of IT applications that can go on this ‘last mile’ require hundreds of specialist IT enterprises, it is logical to view the ‘last mile’ solution riding on the Application solutions instead of vice-versa. The Task Force, therefore, should strongly recommend that the entire ‘last mile’ investment has to necessarily come from private and public sector IT application enterprises even if DOT is fully capable of finding this investment by itself.

ii) National High Speed Fibre-optic Network

• Bimal Jalan Committee recommendations approved by Cabinet to be implemented.

• Build Backbone for NII with capacity of 2.5 Gbps by 2000 with a strict phasing of bandwidth availability, connectivity and time-frame.

• Issue policy statement that bandwidth availability for datacom needs would precede the demand and the tariff would be promotional up to 2000 to be formalised and made public so that investment decisions by the private sector as well as those concerned with development/promotion of testbeds and new applications using NII backbone could workout their action plan.

• Piggy-back on the infrastructure of Power Grid and Railways to create NII Backbone.

• Phasing of additional capacity creation to be decided by DOT in consultation with DOE as recommended by Jalan Committee.

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8.3 Backbone by Railways, PowerGrid etc.

The creation of additional fibre optic backbone capacity can be made by making use of the infrastructure available with Railways, Powergrid etc. and implemented within a short time by issuing an ordinance. As pointed out by the Jalan Committee, Railways, NIC, DOE, ERNET, Electricity Boards and Powergrid must be able to play an effective role in building the NII.

The efforts of DOT alone in building a very broadband digital data network are not sufficient. The use of INTERNET for telephony and video traffic is not too distant in the future and will require very high bandwidth. The private telephone companies will be building telecom infrastructures mainly to serve them. The only way of realising the abundance of capacity quickly is to allow the Railways, the State Electricity Boards (SEBs) and the National Power Grid Corporation (NPGC) and even the ONGC, GAIL and SAIL who have got rights of way (way-leaves). They can contribute to part of the infrastructure by building optical fiber transmission systems either by themselves as elsewhere in the world or in joint ventures with foreign or domestic companies. They may not provide telecom and information services, but they can provide the transmission capacity or infrastructure to be leased to various service providers.

Since the SEB’s network of transmission towers and distribution poles reaches into almost every village and passes by over 80% to 90% of the homes in the country they are in an excellent position to hang optical fiber cables and provide the transmission capacity over which telephones can be given good INTERNET and national intranet access. Even interactive multimedia broadcasting service can be given.

8.4 Backbone by Anyone

It should be open to any agency in Government of India or private sector to provide any part of the backbone. In order to ensure that there is no licensing & policing for building the infrastructure, we should announce that any agency is free to undertake this activity and the banks and FIs may be permitted to encourage this. As no communication system can succeed unless it is able to meet the customer’s requirements there is no danger of any chaos. We can visulaise that automatically the technologies developed will jell into the NII.

8.5 LII – Infrastructure

Wireless Planning and Co-ordination Wing

The Wireless Planning and Co-ordination Wing (WPC) is the national radio regulatory co-ordination and authority responsible for regulation of radio spectrum usage in the for country. It is responsible all matters concerning assignment of frequencies for all the terrestrial, geo-stationary satellite orbit (GSO) and non-GSO based satellite networks, positions in GSO and necessary including coordination in this regard both at national international levels.and at

Flexible and Dynamic Spectrum allocation/recovery

The rapidly changing technical conditions for radio communications and the evolving market opportunities in new wireless applications and services have made it necessary to institute a flexible and dynamic system of spectrum allocation at the national level. There is a clear potential for a rapid growth in mobile telecommunications in the country. Wireless and wireless--in-local-loop is gaining significance as an alternative to fixed wire systems for delivering phone services, especially in areas poorly served by traditional fixed wire communications, or as a means of introducing additional competition into the telecommunications markets. The decision of Government of India to make available basic services, as well as certain value added services on franchise basis, e.g. cellular mobile telephone, radio, VSAT, radio trunking has created a large demand on the use of radio spectrum. A host of other services including braodcasting are competing for spectrum space.

Reforms in spectrum management

In recent times, a number of countries have taken up reforms in their national procedures for spectrum allocation and assignment. It is necessary that reforms be introduced to the system of spectrum allocation so that spectrum can be made available quickly to new users, duly deciding on competing uses on the basis of rational criteria through an efficient, equitable and transparent system of spectrum allocation.

Revision of National Frequency Allocation Plan

The National Frequency Allocation Plan needs to be immediately reviewed for accommodating spectrum requirements of various services and meeting future demands of major wireless users in the country.

ISM band spread spectrum operations

Certain frequency bands like the ISM bands should be declared open for anyone to set up Spread Spectrum based non-interference type Wireless Equipment for solving the last mile problem between the IT backbone infrastructures and the customers.

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