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Trai paper to explore better fibre network capacity in 5G

The government, as part of its recently unveiled national telecom policy, aims to establish a NFA to expand and speed up fibre deployments.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 15, 2019, 11.12 AM IST
New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is preparing a consultation paper on ways to enhance fibre optic network capacity ahead of the launch of 5G technology in the country.

India’s fibre penetration, according to industry estimates, is extremely low, with only 25% of the 5 lakh telecom towers connected via fibre — an essential backhaul requirement to deploy high-speed data networks.

The government, as part of its recently unveiled national telecom policy, aims to establish a National Fibre Authority (NFA) to expand and speed up fibre deployments.

“We are preparing a consultation paper on how to enhance fiberisation to help implementation of 5G,” Trai secretary Sunil K. Gupta told ET, adding the paper could be released in the next quarter. Initial steps include setting an agenda for broader consultation, which would entail discussions around current footprint status, existing bottlenecks and ways to increase fibre penetration, he said.

The aim is to increase fibre footprint five-fold by 2022, from the current 1.5 million route km.

As data demand surges and 5G networks expected to be in place by 2020, the need for fiberisation has increased manifold, and telecom service providers are turning to local cable operators for last-mile connectivity.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio has 3.25 lakh route kilometres of optic fibre cable, but recently acquired controlling stakes in multi-system operators, Hathway Cables and Den Network.

Bharti Airtel has 2.5 lakh route km of fibre network, while Vodafone Idea has 1.6 lakh route km. Both these companies are trying to set up a joint venture to pool in their fibre resources, which they expect to monetise in the near future.

State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has the largest pan-India fibre base of nearly 8 lakh route km, and is planning to lease out its infrastructure.
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