Digital panel approves moentisation of BharatNet assets through lease, auction

New Delhi, Feb 21 : The Digital Communications Commission, the inter-ministerial panel of DoT, has given in-principle nod for monetisation of fibre assets of the Pan India broadband connectivity project, BharatNet, so that these can be offered to private telcos through auction, lease or by outright sale.

Sources said the DCC discussed a proposal on the marketing of the BhratNet's fibre assets because the government has not been able to ensure effective utilisation of BharatNet, which is a costly asset.

"The created fibre assets of BharatNet should be offered on lease to the private sector on an open auction bidding basis for a 20-year period.

The Commssion has given the in-principle approval," an official source said.

Most of the assets will be offered to the private sector that translates into 2.5 lakh km of fibre.

It was decided that the DoT must also look at the the outright sale of fibres as well as a differnt model of leasing.

The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) will now work out various sales and outright leasing options.

"But we have proposed that the fibre asset should be handed over to the private sector on long lease and ensure its utilisation.

This will hasten the tower fiberisation as well," said an official.

The DCC approval was taken for sale-versus-lease and what should be the models of lease of these assets, official sources said.

The panel has decided to put as many as 20 fibre assets or pairs on auctions for private entities for a 20-year lease term after retaining four, in the 2.5 lakh kilometres of optic fibre cable (OFC) deployed under the BharatNet-I programme.

The lease model will be worked out in line with the regulator's recommendations and the USOF has been asked to chalk out a comprehensive plan within 10 days.

So far no estimation on revenue proceeds has been made, sources said.

The latest approval may help the government market BharatNet assets and earn revenues as well, said sources.



Source: IANS