The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recently issued its recommendations on Implementation Strategy for BharatNet.
The Authority had issued the Consultation Paper on Implementation Model of BharatNet on November 17, 2015. In the consultation paper, TRAI build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model had been suggested as an alternative and stakeholders were asked to comment on various issues.
After considering the comments from stakeholders, the Authority has given its recommendations on implementation model of BharatNet.
Some of the salient features of recommendations are:
- A public private partnership (PPP) that aligns private incentives with long- term service delivery in the vein of the build-own-operate transfer/build-operate-transfer models as the preferred choice for the national broadband network, BharatNet.
- Broadening of the work of the private sector company or concessionaire to include deployment and implementation of optic fiber cable (OFC) as well as operating the network.
- The scope of the concessionaire's work should include both deployment and implementation of OFC and other network infrastructure as well as operating the network for the concession period. The period of concession should be 25 years, which can be further extended in blocks of 10, 20 or 30 years.
- Concessionaires should be selected through a reverse-bidding process to determine minimum viability gap funding (VGF) sought for the concession. The area of implementation may be analogous with the licensed service areas (LSAs) of the state/union territory. The use of reverse-bid process to determine the lowest VGF sought can ensure the amount of support from public funds.
- Care must be taken to ensure that the concessionaires provide access to all service providers in a non-discriminatory and transparent manner. Such competition is essential given that all manner of the content will be delivered on the network.
- Central and state government should become minority partner of the concessionaire with 26 percent stake as it can lower the perceived risks and cost of obtaining private finances for the project. In addition, this can help the government check monopolistic behavior on the part of the concessionaire.