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NFS: Optical Fibre Cable for Critical Defense

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. The 3G spectrum auction
  2. DOT’s strategy for a optical fibre cable backbone
  3. Deployment of the Optic-fibre Cable (OFC) in J&K by STL
  4. Why is NFS Critical for Defense Preparedness?

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?


Our Indian Defence forces symbolize the ideals of service, patriotism, and composite culture of the country. They are always committed to their mission-critical goals of peacekeeping, humanitarian missions and national security, safeguarding our nation against all odds. The defence telecom project, conceptualised in 2010, marks how the 3G airwaves vacated by armed forces enabled the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to auction 3G spectrum four years ago.

The 3G spectrum auction was done for frequencies that laid the foundation for the next-gen telecom services. The deployment of 3G services gave a tremendous boost to the telecom sector by increasing rural penetration of the telecom services to bring about economic and social development.

A Step in the Service of the Nation

While the Ministry of Defence took this huge step in the service of the nation and released 20 MHz of 2G and 25 MHz of 3G spectrum for commercial use, the Department of Telecom (DoT) committed to set up an exclusive network, solely for defence communication purpose. In 2012, the Ministry of Defence and DoT conceptualized a network to connect critical defence locations, under the Network for Spectrum (NFS) project.

The DoT gave BSNL the responsibility for constructing a mega communications network, for the armed forces, that has several key packages, including the optical fibre cable backbone, network management systems, and a satellite network.

Serving the country is instilled in STL’s DNA. STL understood the criticality of the project and equipped defence forces with a robust network, for servicing the nation. STL engaged with the MoD to design, build, and manage an intrusion-proof, defence-grade, highly secured communication network.

The project envisaged creating an optical fibre cable-based network for the exclusive communication use of defence. The project was crucial and in the national interest as, going forward, the armed forces agreed to migrate all their communication needs to this alternate network and vacate more bandwidth for commercial telephony.

How STL Deployed Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) in the Toughest Terrains?

The most crucial component of NFS was the deployment of the Optic-fibre Cable (OFC) in the geological strata of the sensitive region of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). It is one of India’s most sensitive areas in all geopolitical aspects, be it terrorism, border infiltration, or extreme weather conditions.

The results were achieved with pride. A critical infrastructure in both telecommunications and power transmission was established in the national interest, aiding our brave soldiers with seamless communication. With a bottoms-up approach, enabling realistic planning & preparation for the worst case scenarios, STL achieved top quality rollouts in one of the most challenging terrains of the world.

The world’s largest end-to-end intrusion-proof, highly secure, scalable, cost optimized, and smart network infrastructure for defence forces was created in J&K and the capabilities in the power and telecom space were being put to use in India’s critical corridors.

The project was marked by the best cable laying standards and practices including intrusion-proof cable technology, network monitoring, and GIS mapping, making it the most advanced and secure network for the armed forces.

Why is NFS Critical for Defense Preparedness?

The NFS has boosted the communication capabilities of defence forces in a major way enhancing national operational preparedness and real-time connect in the highest battlefield of the world. Besides, it has enabled forward linkages to other related industries such as telecom equipment manufacturing and telecom related services – all this in the service of the nation!


What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of an optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate, Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major use cases of optical fibre cable include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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