In 2009-10, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Department of Telecom (DoT) signed a pact under which MoD agreed to vacate 25 MHz of 3G spectrum and 20 MHz in the 2G band, for civil commercial deployment, in a phased manner. In return, DoT committed to setting up an exclusive communication network for defence forces, including the optical fiber cable (OFC) backbone, network management systems, and a satellite network. The defence telecom project, Network For Spectrum (NFS) entailed a ‘Nationwide Communication Network’ to be built around a 58,000 fiber km long OFC network. The project also had forward linkages to other related industries such as telecom equipment manufacturing and other telecommunication-related services. The armed forces’ vacation of the 3G spectrum paved the way for the accelerated development of the Indian telecommunication sector.

In line with its stature of a trusted telecom network developer of national scale, HFCL was responsible for supplying 11,000 km of OFC and the rollout of 3,500 km of OFC network.

The Challenge

Like any other project even this one had its challenges. Some of the critical challenges faced, which were later mitigated with our solution, included:

  • Network design: Since optical fiber cable is mainly laid along highways or city roads, there are frequent instances where adhering to the planned route becomes difficult, which might lead to deviation in route. This could not be done without seeking approval from the customer and RoW is in place.
  • Right of Way (RoW): Obtaining RoW to lay optical fiber cable is extremely important and time- consuming. It can have a direct impact on the delivery timelines.
  • Frequent fiber cuts: The laid fiber was one of the main challenges faced. Fiber cuts could happen due to multiple reasons such as road expansion activity, administrative work, network deployment by other players, etc.
  • Multiple stakeholders: The project of national importance involved stakeholders from the Indian Defence Forces as well as representatives from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which was the tender issuing authority in NFS projects. All approvals and acceptance testing were routed through the multiple stakeholders involved.

HFCL Solution

Considering the set timelines, HFCL’s team worked relentlessly and dedicatedly in the state of Uttar Pradesh which was within its scope of work. We utilized our extensive experience in optical fiber cable laying, integrating best practices, a strong & realistic planning process, and reviewing and testing at periodic intervals, the project was not only completed successfully but HFCL was also the first amongst all the competitors to complete its OFC deployment. HFCL’s on-time top quality rollout was well appreciated by DoT and MoD.

The Outcome

Indian Armed Forces got a dedicated nationwide OFC-based communication network, enhancing its network-centric warfare capabilities in terms of enhanced voice, data, and real-time video services. In turn, the 3G spectrum allocation to telcos enabled the deployment of 3G services and became the building block for 4G and 5G services.