I’ve seen larger numbers being thrown around but this seems to be the component that the Indian Department of Telecom will control through its BBNL special purpose vehicle.
The Rs 20,100 crore national broadband network will serve as a countrywide optic-fibre pipe to provide high-speed internet connectivity across rural India while the Rs 30,000-crore-plus wifi-based e-services project aims to create a commercial ecosystem to recover the costs of building such rural broadband infrastructure. Since the national broadband project is likely to see a 40% cost-escalation to nearly Rs 28,000 crore, the combined capex and opex cost of executing both projects is internally envisaged at roughly Rs 60,000 crore by DoT.
“Currently, BBNL’s role is purely B2B (business to business), in that, it will be a bandwidth supplier to telcos who will eventually ride on the national broadband network to deliver services. But if BBNL is also required to deliver broadband services, its business model will have to migrate to the business-to-consumer (B2C) format,” said another DoT official aware of the matter.
The DoT is taking a relook at these two broadband projects as it is under intense pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to speed up inter-related central ventures billed to provide broadband infrastructure and the accompanying ecosystem for delivering citizen services under the Digital India initiative. More so, since the national broadband venture is running way behind schedule and the government is looking to involve the private sector to speed it up.