RailTel Corporation of India – Digital India winner 2015
RailTel, the continuous partner in ‘Digital India’ dream
RailTel Corporation a “Mini Ratna (Category-I)” PSU is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country owning a Pan-India optic fiber network on exclusive Right of Way (ROW) along Railway track. The OFC network covers all important towns & cities of the country and several rural areas covering 70% of India’s population. RailTel with strong nationwide presence is committed to bring cutting edge technology and offer innovative services to the Indian Telecom market. With its Pan India high capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating a knowledge society at various fronts, by realizing the objectives of ‘Digital India’ Program of Government of India. RailTel has already been working on various projects focusing on Digital India and knowledge economy. The Vision for RailTel is to become the preferred telecom solution and service provider for the Knowledge Economy. RailTel has been one of the main delivery agency in execution of various National Level projects like National Knowledge Network (NKN), National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN), ‘Digital Kerala’ Project, NE-I and NE-II projects under USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund), WiFi at Railway Stations, etc. Notes detailing these different projects/’Digital India Initiatives’ are given below:1. National Knowledge Network National Knowledge Network (NKN) envisages connecting all higher centres of learning and research by bringing together all stakeholders from science, technology, higher education, healthcare, agriculture and governance to a common platform. The concept which formed one of the key focus area of the National Knowledge Commission strongly feels that to optimally utilise the potential of institutions engaged in generation and dissemination of knowledge in various areas, such as research laboratories, universities and other institutions of higher learning, including professional institutions, it is important to connect them through a high speed broadband network. The purpose of such a knowledge network goes to the very heart of the country’s quest to build quality institutions with requisite research facilities and create a pool of highly trained persons. RailTel has been selected as one of the implementing partner of the network by providing high capacity bandwidth pipes for the NKN project. Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil inaugurated the NKN on 9th April, 2009. Since then this vision has translated into a concrete implementation plan with approval from Cabinet in March, 2010. An outlay of Rs. 5,990 Crore was approved for this project and it has been implemented, upgradation and maintenance of the operational network is continuing. As per the network plan NKN shall have 84 Core links of 10 Gbps across 33 locations (state capitals & important cities), 600 Distribution links of 2.5 Gbps at District level and access links of 1G/100 Mbps capacity at 1500 locations (important institutions, universities). Under the project, RailTel is slated to execute links worth Rs. 1200 Cr. under the project. RailTel has already made the network operational as per orders and has implemented total 525 links
- RAILTEL CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD., Plot No. 143, Institutional Area, Sec-44, Gurgaon -122003
out of 567 total links (including the new links under phase-IV). The new links ordered and the links to be upgraded are in various stages of progress.
- National Optic Fiber Network
Democratizing information to improve governance and service delivery at the Panchayats through increased efficiency, accountability, transparency, collaboration, skill upgradation of communities at grassroots level functionaries, management and greater decentralized decision-making, is the need of the hour for the country. And in this process Broadband shall be the enabling technology by leveraging the benefits of Broadband connectivity, associated infrastructure such as computer hardware, software for applications in health, agriculture, education etc, and trained human resource will have to be created to enhance the governance system at the Panchayats. In this effort, RailTel has digitalized its entire OFC core network on GIS platform and the analysis clearly shows that with the kind of reach and access provided by RailTel owned Core Optical Fibre Network. This Core OFC network has one of the largest presences in rural India with 7448 Panchayats in the vicinity of RailTel’s Point of Presence (PoPs) within 3 KM radius and 1.5 Lac panchayats can be reached using RailTel PoPs within a radius of 20 KMs. Hence this vast OFC network can be leveraged by further laying of OFC to those Panchayats which are relatively nearer to RailTel PoPs. A core team from RailTel, BSNL, PGCIL, CDOT & NIC prepared a DPR to bring-out the scheme for creating National Optic Fiber Network in the country. The committee in its report brought out the synergy that can be utilized between various operators for creation of this network including the issues of interconnection and seamless working. In addition, the committee has also brought out revenue generation potential with clear business plan and architecture of the whole setup. The report was placed for cabinet approval by a high level committee. RailTel being an active member for finalization of the NOFN in the country was made partner in execution of the same. The Union Cabinet on 25th Oct 2011 approved the project for creation of a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing Broadband connectivity to Panchayats. The objective of the scheme is to extend the existing optical fiber network of BSNL, RailTel and PGCIL which is available up to district / block HQ’s level to the Gram Panchayat level by laying incremental fiber only and utilizing the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). The cost of this NOFN scheme is likely to be about Rs.20,000 crore. The panchayats were distributed among BSNL, RailTel & PGCIL in 3:1:1 ratio. The scope of work for RailTel includes 120 Districts, 959 Blocks & 36047 GPs, in 11 states.
- NE-I and NE-II projects under USOF RailTel achieved another milestone by bagging the prestigious project from USOF/DoT for laying of fiber in 6 states of North-East for creation of intra/inter district network connecting all DHQs and SDHQs (Blocks) in the respective States. The project is being implemented in the region that offers a range of new challenges in day to day execution work of the project, like law and order situation, tough terrain, unavailability of labour, and
RAILTEL CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD., Plot No. 143, Institutional Area, Sec-44, Gurgaon -122003
poor physical infrastructure, etc. RailTel has taken up this challenge and is able to operate and execute the project in this region. The program envisages to lay OFC cable (at least 24 Fibre, underground) and provide minimum 2.5 Gbps bandwidth capacity upgradeable upto 10 Gbps. USOF envisages to use Existing fiber and collocation facility for creation of this network to reduce CAPEX requirement. The agreement between USOF & RailTel shall be for a period of 7 years. The bandwidth so created shall be shared with all other Service Providers at prescribed rates i.e. 88% under NE-I and 73% in NE-II discounted over current TRAI rates over the agreement period. The project is likely to be implemented over next two years which shall provide high speed connectivity within all these States. The major work of the project has already been tendered and work at ground has started. RailTel management is closely monitoring the execution of the project, to have the desired end result within the planned time and cost. Under the project, total OFC to be laid in the six states is 11224 RKMs. Till Dec’14, contracts for 5629 RKMs has been awarded and work tenders for another 3405 RKMs is under finalization. Work in the state of Tripura is at an advanced level of completion, and is expected to be completed by Mar’15.
- WiFi at Railway Stations and Public Places
RailTel has started WiFi services at Railways Stations of Indian Railways. Sh. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister of Railways, dedicated the WiFi services to the huge number of commuters of New Delhi and Bengaluru railway stations. He announced that RailTel is in process of providing Wi-Fi facility at A1 & A category stations. Honorable Minister also stated that access to broadband internet is the first step to achieve the objectives laid down under Digital India program. New Delhi railway station alone caters to more than 5 lakh passengers daily; these facilities enable passengers to stay connected on the go. For providing WiFi broadband internet service, RailTel used carrier grade architecture with a 1+1 protection system, controller based access points (802.11 ac type) for automatic load sharing and balancing depending upon traffic and interference management. The network is based on fiber backhaul from the station area and gigabit switches on ring protection with abilities for remote monitoring and control with fault rectification. The total internet bandwidth provided for the facility at NDLS is of 1 Gbps and the network has centralized NMS and billing system. RailTel has incurred a CAPEX of Rs. 50 Lakhs for the direct and another Rs. 25 Lakhs for the backhaul network. The expected OPEX for NDLS facility is about Rs. 20 lakhs per annum. In the first month of starting the service more than 100,000 users has logged in and used the WiFi internet service at New Delhi Railway Station only.
RailTel has been exploring more possibilities in the area of providing WiFi internet at various tourist places and other public places, and is in talks with various authorities to make that happen. RailTel has also approached Ministry of Communications & Information Technology for financial support from USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) in providing Wi-Fi facility at way side stations particularly in remote areas, enabling the local population in those areas to have internet access at the local railway station.
RAILTEL CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD., Plot No. 143, Institutional Area, Sec-44, Gurgaon -122003
- Project ‘Digital Kerala’
Kerala State Govt. project to connect its Gram panchayats on a high speed connectivity network. Post deliberations with various operators, RailTel was chosen for “Digital Kerala” pilot. Pilot project was done at 30 locations in Thrissur dist. (15 village offices + 15 Akshaya centers). All the 30 locations were connected in just 15 days by RailTel using ‘Railwire’ platform and presently running without any interruption. RailTel was awarded more 416 locations in Oct’13 for connecting village offices, by the state govt, and RailTel provided connectivity at 416 village locations in 3 months time only (translating to connecting approx. 4 locations per day on an average).
RailWire platform was proposed to be used to extend connectivity to all Gram Panchayat units of Kerala Govt. for providing a symmetric broadband service of 2Mbps to each to these units. RailTel already had extensive partnership across the State with the local cable community which was used to extend the RailWire platform in shortest possible timeline. The network has high resiliency and redundancy feature to provide higher uptime and network quality parameters in line with the industry practices. Apart from these major and long term projects, RailTel has worked on various other important projects and successfully completed them. Like, RailTel connected various sites/facilities of DRDO on high speed broadband network, providing connectivity to various MNCs, Banks, educational the defence forces of the country, etc. RailTel as a responsible and pro-active state entity has been doing its job in executing projects assigned and delivering various high end telecom and IT services to a very diverse portfolio of customers. This is very much visible in the financial and technological growth of the company, also it can be seen from the growing basket of services and the diversity of services RailTel has to offer to its customers today. A ‘Digital India’ can only thrive on a knowledge economy. RailTel has been leaping in the direction of its vision for being a preferred telecom solution and service provider for the ‘knowledge economy’.