It looks like BSNL can’t do anything properly and on time, at least when it’s dependent on others. And this time BSNL is blaming BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network Limited) for the delay in the NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network) project.
Government is very much concerned about the belated progress of the critical NOFN project as it is being monitored directly by the PMO. This has led to TRAI calling to include private companies in the project. TRAI also had recently questioned DoT’s decision to only include state telcos in the company as the NOFN is already running 3 years behind the schedule.
BSNL has flogged BBNL for delaying the project amounting to Rs. 21,000 crore. BSNL expressed its inability to complete the project in time saying, “(BBNL) only authorised it to spend Rs 3,864 crore for procurement of accessories and ducts required for laying 1,68,000 km of optic fibre cables.” The fibre has to be laid across 5 lakh kms and BSNL is out of critical funds needed for salaries, security, and transportation costs.
BSNL has been asked to do 70% of cabling work, ducting and trenching work for connecting 2.5 lakh villages across the country via high-speed fibre broadband.
Trenching, ducting, and cable laying are some of the most expensive works involved in this NOFN project and the lack of funds will only mean more delay.
In a letter to BBNL, BSNL said, “Bharat Broadband has not issued any advance funds to us for meeting NOFN project-related transportation costs, staff salary bills, security, storage and insurance expenses, which has been a major roadblock in expeditious execution of the project.”
All of this blame game has to lead to the involvement of telecom secretary who has asked both the parties to resolve their differences and implement the project on time.
The timely completion of NOFN project is very much critical for the implementation of ‘Digital India’ initiative which aims to provide high-speed internet access to villages, and provide government services via the internet to the common Indian.