BSNL to prepare a dedicated telecom network for armed forces

BSNL to prepare a dedicated telecom network for armed forces
BSNL expects to hand over a new communication network for exclusive use by the armed forces by July 2015, after which the Defence Ministry is expected to release 150 megahertz of telecom spectrum.

The alternative defence network, using optical fibre and satellite links, "is targeted to be completed in three years from Cabinet approval and this works out to July 2015," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director R K Upadhyay told PTI. "It's a tight schedule, but BSNL is making all efforts to meet it."

The freeing-up of 150 megahertz of spectrum held by the defence sector will make more airwaves available for the country's expanding telecommunication needs. The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved Rs. 13,334 crore for the defence network project in July 2012.

The 150 Mhz of spectrum to be vacated is in the frequency range of 1700 Mhz to 2000 Mhz. While a rough calculation shows the worth of the defence spectrum at Rs. 3.6 lakh crore, the actual valuation in the future may differ, based on market dynamics and government decisions.

Recently, the government auctioned 2G spectrum in 1800 Mhz, where the final price of 5 Mhz of pan-India airwaves was about Rs. 12,000 crore. Using this as a benchmark, the value of 150 Mhz of defence spectrum is estimated at about Rs. 3.6 lakh crore.

BSNL has floated tenders for 57,000 kilometres of optical fibre cable (OFC) network. The state-run telecom firm expects to start rolling out the OFC network in January 2014 and commission it by June 2015.

The company has also floated tenders for a 3,000 kilometre OFC network for the navy, which it expects to be ready by December 2014.

BSNL plans to float five tenders between September and November for satellite network, transmission, microwave radio and networking equipment.

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