The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has approached the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for a nine-month extension of the national broadband project rollout deadline to December 2016, citing delayed procurement of key devices that will carry voice, data and video signals over a countrywide fibre-optic network at very high speeds.
These devices, known as Gigabit Passive Optical Network, or GPON, systems, will be used for taking high-speed Internet to remote areas to expand broadband penetration.
The PMO's call for concluding the entire national broadband rollout by March 2016 "is very ambitious as delivery of GPON systems has only just commenced," said DoT.
Apart from delayed supplies of GPON devices, DoT has sought additional time since telecom ducts that will be used for laying optic fibre cables across India also remain in short supply, which in turn has hit trenching and cable-laying operations.
The PMO, however, is learnt to be firm about the March 2016 deadline for concluding the national broadband project as it is positioned as the backbone of the Rs 1.13 lakh-crore Digital India programme, through which the government aims to deliver e-services to rural end-consumers, which could be homes, schools, hospitals, banks or other institutions. Also, the national broadband rollout is already three years behind schedule and the government is loath to add to this.
In the immediate term, DoT has initiated steps to treble manufacturing capacity of fibre ducts at staterun telecom factories from 2,000 km a month to 6,000 km a month.
Source: ET, 5 Jan