The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is working towards the development of around  10,000 km of digital highways or optic fibre cable (OFC) infrastructure across the country by fiscal year (FY) 2024-25. National Highways Logistics Management Limited (NHLML), a fully owned special purpose vehicle (SPV) of NHAI, will implement the network of digital highways by developing integrated utility corridors along the national highways to develop OFC infrastructure. Around 1,367 km on Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and 512 km on Hyderabad-Bangalore Corridor have been identified as pilot routes for the digital highway development.

Providing internet connectivity to remote locations across the country, the OFC network will help to expedite the rollout of new-age telecom technologies such as 5G and 6G. Recently inaugurated, 246 km long Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway features a three-metre-wide dedicated utility corridor used to lay OFC, which will serve as the backbone for the rollout of the 5G network in the region. OFC laying work along the national highways has started and is targeted for completion in about a year.

OFC network will allow direct plug-and-play or ‘fibre-on-demand’ model for the telecom/internet services. The network will be leased out on a fixed price allotment mechanism on ‘open for all’ basis through a web portal to eligible users. OFC allotment policy is being finalised in consultation with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

According to the government, the creation of digital highways will not only have a catalytic impact on the growth and development but will also contribute to the digital transformation of India.