Andhra Pradesh is perhaps the first State to have obtained a telecom licence and it can issue phone numbers starting with the ‘797’ series from August this year! It indirectly got the opportunity to start an internet based telephone service ‘without requiring any further registration’ after it obtained permission from the Telecom Ministry for starting its own IPTV — Internet Protocol basedTelevision network — as part of its Fibre Grid project. Although it primarily aims at providing affordable net connectivity in every corner of the State, “the government can provide free telephone services within the region through internet which means you can also skype and have video calls,” explains S. Harikrishna, Executive Director of A.P. State FibreNet Ltd, the special purpose vehicle.
Tenders have been called for making available 10,000 ‘triple pay IP boxes’ which can be installed at households and through which the broadband internet connectivity will be provided. Cable TV operators are being roped in for the last mile connectivity and the speed of network from 10 mbps to 1 GB or more depending on payment capacity.
“For a basic cost of Rs.149 per month, we intend to provide interactive connections with digitised channels, internet, wi-fi and net telephony,” he says. Close to 2,500 sub-stations will have Points of Presence from where cable operators can take the optic fibre to households.
With the operations centre currently in Vijaywada and soon at Amaravati, the target is to reach 65 lakh cable connected households into the Fibre Grid within the next three years, and cover the entire 1.5 crore families or 85 lakh cable connected households in five years plus 6,580 health centres and more than 60,000 educational institutions.
The scale and reach of the project has been such that all States have been asked to emulate the same by the Centre, claims Mr. Harikrishna.