HFCL, Ciena to Build Indian Defense Network

Ciena and HFCL have landed a major deal to build core transport and switching backbone networks for India's armed forces in what looks set to be the world's largest purpose-built defense project.

Referred to as Network For Spectrum (NFS), the project is envisaged as a "multi-service and multi-protocol converged next generation network based on exclusive and dedicated tri-services optical transport backbone," according to a statement published on the website of the Indian army. Officials have also said the network will be "based on Fault Tolerant Carrier Ethernet transport technologies."

India's army, navy and air force will be the exclusive users of the new network, according to government plans. The infrastructure is being designed to cover the entire country and to provide state-of-the-art security, encryption and self-healing capabilities, as well as the scale to meet the demands of the world's third-largest military force.

"It is a key project for us and we will leverage our global expertise in defense sector experience and also our Indian operational capabilities," says Ryan Perera, Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN)'s India head, in a conversation with Light Reading. "We have over 1,000 people here and good facilities for interworking, testing to implement and execute this project. The fiber rollout has already started and the transport part will start soon."

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A consortium led by Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd. (HFCL) has also won a $207 million sub-project to lay optical fiber cables. "An advanced purchase order is expected soon [and] implementation will start next year," says Mahendra Nahata, the CEO of HFCL. "We look forward to building a reliable and high-capacity network for the Indian defense forces."

The award of the various contracts comes after India's Ministry of Communications promised to create a separate network for military use after it made the armed forces vacate some of the airwaves they occupied in 2010. Officials proposed laying 57,015km of fiber in 2012, dividing the country into seven regions for the purposes of executing the project.

— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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