India’s Ministry of Finance has rejected a request from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) calling for additional funding for the fibre-optic network being rolled out by state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for the armed forces. According to the Economic Times, having asked for a further INR53.45 billion (USD1.17 billion) for the network rollout, the DoT has been told that it should direct the telco to complete the deployment within the initial budget, or instead the matter must be referred to a Group of Ministers for further consideration. ‘We’ve informed the DoT that the overall cost of the alternate communication network being put up by BSNL should be limited within the original estimate approved by the union cabinet by changing project specifications for the army/navy without compromising on network performance,’ an official from the Department of Economic Affairs noted.
The construction of the alternative fibre network for the armed forces was, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, a critical part of paving the way for the long-delayed auction of 3G spectrum, which was finally concluded in May 2010. Having previously utilised a portion of the 3G frequencies, a deal with the government saw the armed forces vacate the frequencies at the end of August 2010, allowing for the allocation of spectrum to those cellcos that won 3G concessions three months earlier.