The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is gearing up to create approximately 10,000 km of digital highways by FY 2024-25. The agency is working towards developing a network of Optic Fibre Cables (OFC) infrastructure across the country to expedite the rollout of new-age telecom technologies such as 5G and 6G.
To implement the network, the NHAI-owned National Highways Logistics Management Limited (NHLML) will develop integrated utility corridors along the national highways to establish OFC infrastructure. The Digital Highways project will begin with a pilot program covering 1,367 km on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and 512 km on the Hyderabad-Bangalore Corridor.
The OFC network will provide internet connectivity to remote areas and help with the implementation of new telecom technologies. The 246 km Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway recently inaugurated a three-meter-wide dedicated utility corridor used to lay OFC cables. This corridor will serve as the backbone for the 5G network in the region.
The OFC network will be leased out to eligible users on a fixed price allotment mechanism through a web portal on an “open for all” basis. The OFC allotment policy is currently being finalized in consultation with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The creation of Digital Highways will significantly impact India’s growth and development, paving the way for the country’s digital transformation. The NHAI’s OFC laying work has already begun and is targeted for completion in about a year.