State-run ITI to implement India army communication network project for $1 billion

Photo: Communication Towers. For Representational Purposes Only.

New Delhi: India‘s army will soon be carrying out its internal communication on a modern, secure network, ensuring seamless connectivity with troopers posted at the borders with rivals China and Pakistan.

The project, approved by the country’s highest decision-making body on national security matters led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would be implemented in three years by the State-run ITI Limited at a cost of Rs 7796.39 crore ($1.063 billion).

Called the Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON), this would be the Phase IV of the Indian Army communication network that is already the lifeline for the soldiers for command and control within the 1.2-million-strong force.

The Cabinet Committee on Security provided its stamp of approval for the project, thereby driving money flow from the government to the State-run industry and from there down to the line to the companies and institutions that would do subcontract jobs with ITI Limited on the project.

The announcement of the project, a formal contract for which was signed today, is a boost to the already sagging Indian economy that has been hit hard by the COVID-19-induced lock down globally, adversely impacting businesses and the spending capacity of the consumers.

“The project is a strategic and theatre area communication network which will upgrade the existing Asynchronous Transfer Mode Technology to Internet Protocol (IP) / Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) Technology. The Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), Microwave Radio and Satellite will be used as communication media,” a Ministry of Defence statement said.

The project will provide better survivability, responsiveness and high bandwidth in any operational scenario and enhance the communication coverage of network closer to the International Border (IB), Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

The network will extend the high bandwidth communication to the remote operational areas in central and eastern sectors of the frontiers, and enhance communication reach to the forward locations in the western border too.

he project would augment the communication network of Indian Army in the sensitive forward operational areas, which, in turn, will provide a major boost to the operational preparedness of the Indian Army, especially keeping in view the current operational situation at the LAC.

The Indian Army is already facing a military challenge from China at the de facto borders in the Ladakh region for the last five months now.

Further, with approximately 80 per cent indigenous content, the project will provide a boost to the domestic Indian industry. The project involves execution of civil works, laying of OFC, and tower construction.

With utilisation of local resources and hiring of manpower, it would generate employment opportunities, especially to the people in the remote border areas, support and boost rural economy, assist in upliftment of the local economies, provide skill development during the prolonged period of execution and maintenance of the network.

The project is also a big opportunity for the public sector to showcase its capability and provide an impetus to the Indian economy and will be a step in the direction of achieving the goal of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ as set out by Modi during the Coronavirus pandemic as the long-term goal of his government.

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