Bharat Telecom crafts ambitious FTTH initiative

Bharat Telecom Limited (BTL), a joint venture of Mauritian and Indian investors, has put forward a plan to provide Fiber to the Home (FTTH) services to all of Mauritius' homes and businesses.

Baljinder Sharmer, a director for Bharat Telecom, said the service provider recently began testing GPON-based FTTH technology in one community with trials set to "launch soon."

The service provider plans to invest $50 million to roll out the new 2,900km network covering Mauritius. It will break up the network into two key aerial and underground segments: 200 km of the fiber network will be used to build a 10G network in underground ducts, while another 2,700 km of fiber will be deployed on poles owned by the Central Electricity Board using what Sharmer said will be "single core and 24 core fibre."

Under the current plan, the service provider plans to cover 70 percent of Mauritius' population, with the remaining 30 percent being lit up during the second phase of the project.

Last November, Bharat Telecom got its operating license. Since then it has built out 80 km of the core network and has conducted two FTTH pilots in Quatres Bornes and Rose Hill.

When the network officially goes live, it plans to offer 100 Mbps broadband data service and IPTV, but it has no plans to offer traditional voice service. Initially targeting 50,000 business and residential subscribers,  Bharat will offer 2 Mbps connection with 40 TV channels for $10 per month with plans to offer a premium content package for $200 a month.

"We don't have telephony licences and we deliberately kept out of voice," Sharmer said. "We didn't want to get into a fight with the two local big boys."

Outside of Mauritius it plans to look at deploying FTTH network services in other African countries in the next 18-24 months.

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