Telecom regulator Trai has sought comments from stakeholders on a new model to operationalise the national optical fibre network BharatNet which aims to connect all 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country through broadband.
"Some views regarding the implementation have been raised and therefore the Authority looked into one more possible alternate model- Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in a statement.
"The Authority has come out with this consultation paper to discuss issues related to strategies to find best model of implementation for BharatNet," it said, adding that the stakeholders can submit views by December 7 on the way the BOOT model should be operated.
The first model used to deploy the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) was led by centre public sector units, under which a special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) was formed and optical fibre were to be deployed by BSNL, MTNL and RailTel.
However, the deployment has been very slow. The project was approved by the Cabinet in October 2011. "The network was supposed to be commissioned in two years at a cost tentatively estimated at Rs 20,000 crore. As per BBNL website, as on November 2, 2015, only 3384 GPs (gram panchayats) have been connected," Trai said.
However, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in September that around 68,000 village panchayats have been connected so far. The project was later renamed BharatNet, and the government decided to use CPSUs as well as state governments and the private sector.
Under the BOOT model, a company (concessionaire) designs, builds, and operates infrastructure such as power plants and highways for a period of time, and then transfers it to the government.