Subrata Sen, Head, fibre and transport planning, Bharti Infratel

The successful deployment of various “smart” elements that make up a smart city relies on building an extensive, scalable and robust optical fibre cable (OFC) network. Not only do OFC networks provide a solid backbone for supporting bandwidth-intensive applications but they also facilitate installation of intelligent solutions such as smart poles and cameras. In a recently organised conference by, Subrata Sen, head, – fibre and transport planning, Bharti Infratel, spoke about the key features of smart city project in Bhopal, the OFC network deployed in the city and key applications introduced through this network. Edited excerpts…

Bharti Infratel has already implemented the Bhopal smart city project. It has been operational for more than one year. We have provided the network as well as done the system integration with the help of our original equipment manufacturer partner. We have installed about 150 smart poles, 100 sensors and 150 cameras.

Communication infrastructure

We have followed a layered approach for implementing the network. The first layer is the telecom and connectivity layer, which includes infrastructure like smart poles and optical fibre- including the transport layer,  while the second layer includes citizen-centric requirements such as cameras and smart lights.

As we move forward, I think this layered approach will be the best solution for an aspiring smart city. The telecom/ digital infrastructure layer has to be decoupled from the city-centric layer. The decoupling of infrastructure allows us to introduce applications and scale networks depending on the requirements.

In Bhopal, we have deployed about 150 smart poles. These poles can host the telco equipment, smart LED lights, environmental sensors, Wi-Fi access points, digital display boards and cameras. All these smart poles are connected with the optical fibre and a layered IP-MPLS network. All traffic from these poles is being backhauled to the command and control centre. The Bhopal command and control centre has been built by the Bhopal Smart City Authority.

Deployment model

The Bhopal smart city is one of the first smart cities to be implemented on the PPP model. As part of the PPP arrangement, the Bhopal government has offered free RoW. Under the agreement, Bharti Infratel has the exclusive rights to lease its smart poles and optical fibre. The company is willing to share its fibre on a long-term indefeasible right-of-use basis.

Length of fibre network

The length of the optical fibre network is in the range of 200 km. The core ring is of 40 G and is scalable to 100 G, while the access network is 1 G and scalable to 10 G. The Bhopal smart city has used G.655 grade fibre. The advantage of this fibre is that losses are lower. We have currently laid 48 core fibre. However, there is a spare duct available, which can be used to lay a higher pair fibre in the future as per the need.

Key applications

The key city centric applications in use at present are video analytics, traffic monitoring and monitoring of environmental conditions. Further, the Bhopal smart city offers free Wi-Fi to citizens, enabling them to access government websites and applications and to lodge complaints.