India Data Center firms seek captive fiber for faster and more efficient connectivity

India data center providers have urged the government to allow them to lay their own captive fiber optic networks to offer faster and more efficient connectivity to companies.  India’s current laws around fiber usage require data center operators to depend on telecom service providers for the fiber. That increases prices, makes the process time consuming and impacts ease of business,  senior industry executives told ET.

–>The data center sector does not want to be governed by the same rules as telecom operators since it will become expensive and onerous to lay the fiber.

IT industry body Nasscom has also supported the data center industry’s demands through a recent submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).  Nasscom has called for allowing data center companies to lay their own dark fiber between two or more data centers of the same company, to connect customers’ equipment located within such centers.

The biggest challenge affecting data center operations and services in India is around the telecom licenses to connect data centers that are not part of the same campus, Vimal Kaw, NTT’s head of data center services, told the Economic Times (ET).

“In India, telecom is regulated, and a license is required for data center providers to be able to create a network of connected data centers 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 center providers to connect DCs using dark fiber to offer services to DC customers,” Kaw said. Typically, companies pay licensed telecom/internet service providers (TSPs/ISPs) on an annual contract basis.

TSPs, in turn, pay a share of their revenue to the government, irrespective of public or private use of the services. If data center businesses want to set up their own dark fiber networks, they 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 fiber networks through ISPs/ TSPs can lead to exorbitant prices for data center 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 center ecosystem can go a long way in enabling us to extend our services to newer regions,” said Piyush Somani, CEO of ESDS Software.

Nasscom  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.

India IT industry body Nasscom has also supported the data center industry’s demands through a recent submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).


Data centers depend on captive dark fiber connectivity sourced from telecom operators to expand their presence, Ashish Aggarwal, head of policy, Nasscom told ET. But the process is time consuming and inefficient for the data center ecosystem. “Laying dark fiber 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,” Aggarwal said.

Sunil Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure, said the government can possibly set up a mechanism – either a mandatory obligation or subsidization/incentivization, or both — for this purpose.“   Additionally, data center operators should be allowed to lay their fiber optic cable and develop their own managed network to connect to other data centers, 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 fiber connectivity to data centers via licensed entities. Bharti Airtel has said that if right of way issues around fiber connectivity are resolved, the process can become more efficient.


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