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Net users feel the pinch after OFC drive in East B'luru

The BBMP has now removed OFCs on either side of the roads in Bellandur, Kasavanahalli, Sarjapur Main Road, Haralur Road among other areas. The cumulative length of the roads cleared of the cables is 20 km. 

Internet users in Whitefield are headed for dark days. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has finally started removing illegal optical fibre cables (OFCs), a nightmare for pedestrians. 

Citizens have long been complaining about the OFC menace, cables hanging from electricity poles, trees and jutting out of the footpaths.

The BBMP has now removed OFCs on either side of the roads in Bellandur, Kasavanahalli, Sarjapur Main Road, Haralur Road among other areas. The cumulative length of the roads cleared of the cables is 20 km. 

All the telcos combined, there are around 50,000 broadband connections in East Bengaluru that houses the city’s tech giants. Around 80 companies that use business-to-business services of AirTel, Vodafone-Idea, Jio and other Internet service providers in the area would also see the disruption of services. 

Telecom service providers, up in arms against the BBMP, say they have all required permits for overhead cables. “The problem with underground cables is they get cut whenever there is construction work. The onus of repairing them falls on us. So, we are opting for overhead cables,” an operator said. 

“The telecom industry has made huge investments in setting up infrastructure in the Karnataka Circle to provide fast connectivity to citizens as well as to the IT industry,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said. 

Karnataka has over 1,47,200 Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) on approximately 34,700 towers to support telephone, mobile and Internet communications.

This alone equals Rs 14,500 crore in network investments. The sector generates about Rs 6,500 crore revenue per annum in Karnataka alone, from which it contributes approximately Rs 1,700 crore to the state exchequer in levies and taxes. 

The association said the lack of a clear policy framework on OFCs had led to several problems and it was high time the BBMP came up with one. 

Meanwhile, the public has welcomed the BBMP’s crackdown. “Arrangements should be made by telecom companies to draw OFCs without disturbing pedestrians. Roads should not be dug up unscientifically to lay cables,” said the Bellandur Development Forum. 

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