National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) Project for e-Governance


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Government of India  approved on 25-10-2011 the setting up of National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) to provide connectivity to all the 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats(GPs) in the country. This would ensure broadband connectivity with adequate bandwidth. This is to be achieved utilizing the existing optical fiber and extending it to the Gram Panchayats.
At present OFC (Optical Fibre Cable) connectivity is available in all State Capitals, Districts, HQs and upto the Block Level. There is a plan to connect all the Gram panchayats in the country. This will be done by utilizing existing fibres of PSUs (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) and laying incremental fibre to connect to Gram Panchayats wherever necessary. Dark fibre network thus created will be lit by appropriate technology thus creating sufficient bandwidth at the Gram Panchayats. This will be called the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN). Thus connectivity gap between Gram Panchayats and Blocks will be filled.
Non-discriminatory access to the NOFN will be provided to all the Service Providers. These service providers like Telecom Service Providers(TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators and Content providers can launch various services in rural areas. Various categories of applications like e-health, e-education and e-governance etc. can be provided by these operators. The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
NOFN Phase 2
Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) is in the process of building the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) that aims at providing broadband connectivity up to all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats across India by December 2016. As part of this initiative, BBNL intends to outsource the work of laying fiber to interested parties who would take up the task of initially connecting approximately 50,000 Gram Panchayats, that in turn entails laying an estimated 120,000 kilometres of optical fiber cable and connecting it to pre-determined end points. Survey has been completed for more than ninety percent of the Gram Panchayats. MoU for Right of Way has also been signed with most of the states and union territories.
 Project is intended to be implemented with a layered governance structure comprising of PMC (Project Management Consultant) and PIMA (Project Implementation and Maintenance Agency) entities. The proposed scope of project for PIMA includes all activities pertaining to laying of optical fiber cable except procurement of optical fiber cable and GPON equipment. Optical Fiber cable shall be centrally procured by BBNL and supplied to PIMA. The proposed scope of project for PMC shall include Quantity & Quality Review and Audit of work done by PIMA.
Roadmap
The project aims at providing the basic infrastructure for the Digital India programme. NOFN aims to provide high- speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by December 2016 and the estimated cost of the project is around Rs 30,000 crore.
The government has set a target of rolling out optical fibre network across 50,000 village panchayat by the end of 2014-15, 1 lakh by March 2016 and another 1 lakh by end of 2016.        
To fast-track the central project, Department of Telecom has also warned of action against those officials who are not taking decisions or delaying it. 
Kerala will be the first state to be fully covered by broadband connectivity
Kerala will be the first state to be fully covered by broadband connectivity under the national optical fibre network (NOFN) project, which aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the nation by December 2016. 
Impact of  NOFN  on village Life
NOFN is a critical component of the Digital India vision which aims for digital empowerment of the people. It will bring massive changes in the lives of rural people — agriculture, health, education, marketing of farm produce and so on.
For instance, imagine a farmer who sells his vegetables online to a restaurant on the platform provided by Flipkart or Amazon. He does not have to transport his produce on a truck to the marketplace; does not have to store them in a warehouse; does not have to employ workers to do a lot of sundry work involved in the selling process.
As of now, this is not possible as most of the villages are not digitally connected and only a quarter of the villages have mobile coverage. The NOFN project will bring in a revolution to e-commerce and online retailing. It will link the farmers and other rural producers to the market.
It will also give a boost to e-governance and to the citizen-government interface, and will bring in huge changes in entertainment, music and cinema.
Technology
In NOFN the technology called GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network Technology) will be utilised. 
A passive optical network (PON) is a network architecture that brings fiber cabling and signals to the home using a point-to-multipoint scheme that enables a single optical fiber to serve multiple premises. Encryption maintains data security in this shared environment. The architecture uses passive (unpowered) optical splitters, reducing the cost of equipment compared to point-to-point architectures. 
The GPON (gigabit passive optical network) standard differs from other PON standards in that it achieves higher bandwidth and higher efficiency using larger, variable-length packets. GPON offers efficient packaging of user traffic, with frame segmentation allowing higher quality of service (QoS) for delay-sensitive voice and video communications traffic.
Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL)
The BBNL aims to provide 100 Mbps Broadband connectivity to all the Gram Panchayats; to provide B2B services in a non-discriminatory manner; to facilitate proliferation of G2C, B2C and P2P Broadband services in rural areas; and to be a catalyst for increasing Broadband penetration in rural areas so as to foster socio-economic development.
 

Monday, 12th Jan 2015, 09:15:34 AM

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