Bharat Telecom unveils island-wide FTTH plan

25 Jun 2012

Bharat Telecom Limited, a telecoms joint venture between Mauritian and Indian investors, reportedly plans to connect every home and business in Mauritius to fibre, according to BalancingAct quoting the firm’s Baljinder Sharmer as saying. The Bharat official says that tests of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology are already underway in one community and trials are due to ‘launch soon’.

Under the ambitious investment plan, Bharat Telecom is looking to invest up to USD50 million to roll out 2,900km of fibre-optical network, covering Mauritius. It is understood that 200km will comprise a core 10Gbps network in underground ducts, while a further 2,700km of fibre will be deployed on poles belonging to the Central Electricity Board, consisting of ‘single core and 24 core fibre’. The telco intends to cover 70% of the population in phase one of the rollout, with the other 30% being connected under Phase 2 of the build.

Bharat Telecom received its operating licence in November 2011, since when it has moved to get its business operational as soon as possible. To date it has constructed 80km of the core network component, and piloted the FTTH service at sites in Quatres Bornes and Rose Hill. Once fully operational, the newcomer intends to offer high speed broadband at speeds of up to 100Mbps and IPTV services via its Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) network. Setting itself a target of 50,000 business and residential subscribers, Bharat intends to offer a 2Mbps connection with 40 TV channels for USD10 per month, rising to USD200 a month for a premium content package. The average price is expected to be USD20 per month, with Bharat also intent on breaking the tradition of end users being tied to long-term contracts. The newcomer is not planning to offer triple-play (i.e. there are no plans for voice telephony), however. ‘We don’t have telephony licences and we deliberately kept out of voice. We didn’t want to get into a fight with the two local big boys. The set-top box has a telephone port and some of the subscribers might want to call within the network, no problem. That’s up to the subscribers,’ the director said.

Sharmar told BalancingAct: ‘I personally want us to disrupt the whole market. The competition will respond and it will therefore be beneficial to the country. The cheaper it is, the more up-take there will be and therefore there will be more subscribers, which in turn will sustain lower bandwidth prices. So far no-one has really tried this. We will breakeven on the low-cost packages and in some instances make money.’

Mauritius, Bharat Telecom