As of June 2022, India has 83.7 crores of internet user base , which is roughly 60% of the population. By 2025, it is estimated that around 80% of the population will be using internet in India. With growing population, increasing internet penetration and emergence of new technologies like 5G, there is a need for fiber-rich network infrastructure.

To address these growing internet needs, Government of India has launched National Broadband Mission to enable fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide for digital empowerment & inclusion, provide affordable & universal broadband access. As of June 2022, a total of 34.62 Lakh km of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) has been laid. It is envisaged to be increased up to 50 Lakh km by 2024-25 . Also, 7.23 Lakh towers have been installed till June 2022, with a plan to increase them up to 15 Lakh towers by 2024-25. But so far, only 35.11% of towers are fiberized. It is envisaged to be increased up to 70% by 2024-25.

In line with National Broadband Mission and PM Gatishakti Mission to enable integrated infrastructure development, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRT&H) has undertaken development of OFC infrastructure along National Highways. The OFC infrastructure would be a dark-fiber network which will allow a plug-and-play leasing model for all interested Telecom Service Providers (TSP)/ Internet Service Providers (ISP). The infrastructure shall be laid along the Highways/ Expressway with high traffic/freight movement connecting major cities, therefore impacting a large section of population.

For pilot project, one Greenfield expressway and one Brownfield corridor, namely Delhi-Mumbai Expressway (1367 kms) and Hyderabad – Bangalore Corridor (512 kms) respectively have been awarded on EPC mode. Under the pilot project, 6 ducts shall be laid, among which 3 ducts will be blown with Optical Fiber Cable of 96 fibers in each duct, i.e., a total of 3X96 = 288 fibers. The remaining 3 ducts shall left empty for future expansion, with a combined augmented capacity of more than 1000 fibers.

MoRT&H plans to develop ~10,000 kms of OFC infrastructure by 2024-25 along the corridors planned under Bharatmala. As the corridors planned under Bharatmala connect all major cities, this OFC network developed along these corridors will act as backbone of OFC infrastructure. This network can serve rural areas in 100 km width of the corridor thus helping in fiberization of rural areas and improving digital penetration all across the country.

1. Economic survey of India 2022-23
2. National Broadband Mission – PIB Note dated: 22.07.2022