A month after the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) locked horns with telecom and internet service providers over laying of data cables in Bengaluru, the state government is working on a new policy to help all stakeholders.
The civic body, with the help of the police, had removed overhead cables on the Outer Ring Road stretch — which has numerous IT companies — deeming them to be illegal. This had affected data connectivity in the IT hub of Whitefield.
The new policy will recognise overhead cable, which so far is banned in BBMP limits, as an option before service providers. The work on drafting the policy started following a meeting of the urban development department (UDD) in the first week of May to address issues related to optical fibre cable (OFC).
Additional chief secretary, urban development, Mahendra Jain, chaired the meeting of stakeholders, including service providers, last month following the Cellular Operators Association of India’s (COAI) warning about digital blackout in Bengaluru after the BBMP drive.
The UDD had issued a draft policy on cable laying in 2016 inviting suggestions from stakeholders. There has been no work on the policy since then, sources in the government said. The UDD will now start working on a new policy and will call for suggestions from public. It might take a few months before the new policy comes into effect.
The policy will allow cable operators to lay overhead cables in areas where they are required, like for providing internet connection to individual houses. “The policy will also clearly define authorised and unauthorised cables,” an official said adding government agencies and telecom service providers have often sparred over what constitutes unauthorised cables.
However, the challenge before the authorities is to ensure telecom providers do not lay overhead cables everywhere. A section of citizen activists has been urging the BBMP to install smart poles at regular intervals to develop a structured cable network.
“The BBMP should develop structured cabling using smart portable poles with slots to wind cables up. Since it is not really practical to do horizontal directional drilling to lay underground cables in all places, infrastructure should be provided for overhead cables too,” said Vishnu Prasad H, a member of Bellandur Development Forum who has been actively involved in fighting against unauthorised laying of cables on Outer Ring Road.
The BBMP has not yet decided on smart poles. “We are deliberating on the smart pole concept. There is also an option to convert existing BESCOM poles belonging to the BBMP to lay fibre cables, as BESCOM cables are moving underground,” said Dharma Prasad, BBMP’s executive engineer (OFC).