Is there a solution to the NOFN dilemma?

Posted on April 30, 2016  /  0 Comments

rural_india_computers_282154064346_640x360A recent report by TIE, summarized in Mint, echoes many of the conclusions we reached about the challenges of increasing Internet connectivity in India, with emphasis on the bottom of the pyramid.

It is important that Bharat Broadband Network stays at the backhaul level and does not seek to directly provide access services to end users. This is not only to safeguard the principle that all access providers should have non-discriminatory, cost-oriented access to the backhaul but also to ensure that the NOFN rollout does not slow down any further. It is silly to ask a bunch of bureaucrats to market Internet access.

Private operators are not interested in providing access at the ends of the NOFN wire for various reasons. That leaves BSNL. Not the most hopeful candidate for the job. But I was pleased to hear that they are partnering with Bluetown, a specialist company with operations in multiple developing economies.

Backhaul infrastructure

—Limited number of towers connected through fibre. Currently only 15% connected

—Slow progress of the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) deployment

Access solution

—Lack of alternative means of Internet access (such as fixed infrastructure, cable and Wi-Fi)

—NOFN limited to connecting gram panchayats with no clarity on access

—Capacity constraints among operators inhibiting them from offering low-cost trial/promotional packs to drive experimentation for continuous Internet access

—High spectrum cost eating up operators’ corpus, which could have been used to expand 3G and or deploy 4G services.

Image source.

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