11 Aug Indus Towers close to signing fibre deal with Reliance Jio, Tata Sky, Tata Tele
KOLKATA: Indus Towers is close to inking long-term fibre leasing contracts with Reliance Jio Infocomm, Tata Sky and Tata Teleservices to offer its fibre resources for their home broadband, DTH and enterprise businesses respectively, a top company executive said.
Indus, a three-way joint venture between Bharti Infratel, UK’s Vodafone Plc Group and Vodafone Idea, is in advanced talks with all three companies to lease out its shareable dark fibre resources in Vadodara, Gurgaon and Dehradun where the telecom tower company is rolling out fibre infrastructure for smart cities. Around 100 route kms of dark fibre will be available for customers in each of these markets, the executive said.
“Our discussions with Jio, Tata Sky and Tata Teleservices are headed in a positive direction,” Neelesh Kelkar, vice-president & national head (smart city) at IndusTowers, told ET.
He, though, declined to reveal contract values of the three imminent deals on confidentiality grounds, but said Indus is exploring minimum 10-year contracts and is in talks for either an annual or a monthly lease model. The lease contracts though could see a shift from the current market practice of an IRU or `indefeasible right of use-based model,’ where such deals cannot be undone, between the owner and customers of a communications system.
At press time, Jio, Tata Sky and Tata Teleservices did not reply to ET’s queries.
Kelkar said accessing shareable fibre infrastructure has emerged “a preferred choice for Jio,” which is seeing rising demand for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) fast broadband services. He added that Indus had also offered its fibre infrastructure resources in Gurgaon/Vadodara for Jio’s 4G mobility business.
Company executives say Indus can lease out fibre resources on a long-term basis to clients cost-effectively as it enjoys waivers on Right of Way (RoW) charges in its capacity as “a concessionaire” in various smart city ventures. Such concessions by way of RoW waivers are, typically, given by local municipal bodies for 15-to-20 years to the companies executing smart city contracts.
Indus has already invested Rs 300 crore in rolling out smart city digital infrastructure, and is likely to pump in a similar sum by end-FY21 as it targets new smart city projects in Chandigarh, Shirdi, Nasik, North/South-Mumbai, Barmer and Mysore, especially with data consumption and dependence on home broadband services on the rise with vast swathes of corporate staffers and students still working from home amid the continuing Covid crisis.
Kelkar believes fibre is “the key enabler” for high-speed data technologies like 5G, which is why Indus would actively invest in this domain through the smart city engagement as fibre assets created now can be leased out in future.