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Data centre players urge Government for own captive fibre networks

As it will become expensive and onerous to lay the fibre, the data centre sector does not want to be governed by the same rules as telecom operators

For offering faster and more efficient connectivity to companies, Indian data centre players have urged the Government to allow them to lay their own captive fibre networks.

Senior industry executives said that the process becomes time consuming and the ease of business gets impacted because as per the current law, they have to depend on telecom service provider for fibre.

As it will become expensive and onerous to lay the fibre, the data centre sector does not want to be governed by the same rules as telecom operators.

Through a recent submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), IT industry body Nasscom has also supported the data centre industry’s demand. Between two or more data-centres of the same company, Nasscom has called for allowing data centre companies to lay their own fibre to connect customers’ equipment located within such centres.

To connect data-centres that are not of the same campus, the biggest challenge affecting data centre operations and services in India is around the telecom licenses, said Vimal Kaw, Head, Data Centre Services of NTT Ltd.

“In India, telecom is regulated, and a license is required for data centre providers to be able to create a network of connected data-centres spanning across locations within a city or across cities. Thus, provisions need to be made by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and government in the current regulatory framework to enable data centre providers to connect DCs using dark fibres to offer services to DC customers”, said Kaw.

Typically, companies pay licensed telecom/internet service providers (TSPs/ISPs) on an annual contract basis.

Irrespective of public or private use of services, TSPs, in turn, pay a share of their revenue to the government. Data centre businesses, if want to set up their own dark fibre networks, will have to come to a similar revenue share arrangement under current laws, which companies say is not feasible for business-to-business networks.

“Sourcing fibre networks through ISPs/TSPs can lead to exorbitant prices for data centre providers, plus it is a time-consuming process. Meanwhile, getting an ISP license for captive usage is even more expensive. Acknowledging the specific need of the data centre ecosystem can go a long way in enabling us to extend our services to newer regions”, said Piyush Somani, Chief Executive at ESDS Software.

Nasscom has told Trai that traditional networks operated by TSPs are principally designed for voice or public data services, not for cloud services, which require very high availability, bandwidth, and low latency for extremely high amounts of data.

Data-centres depend on captive fibre connectivity sourced from telecom operators to expand their presence, said Ashish Aggarwal, head of policy at Nasscom. But the process is time-consuming and inefficient for the data centre ecosystem. “Laying the dark fibre is not a TSP activity in the traditional sense because it’s a captive network. For the benefit of ease of business, data centres should be allowed to lay their own fibre networks”, said Aggarwal.

Sunil Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure, said the government can possibly set up a mechanism – either a mandatory obligation or subsidisation/incentivisation, or both – for this purpose.

“Additionally, data centre operations should be allowed to lay their fibre and develop their own managed network to connect to other data-centres, landing stations, and other key buildings of interest like stock exchanges”, he added.

Meanwhile, telecom operator Reliance Jio, in its submission to Trai has urged the regulator to only back fibre connectivity to data centres via licensed entities. Bharti Airtel has said that if right of way issues around fibre connectivity are resolved, the process can become more efficient.

Also readCIO News interviews Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh

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