RailTel to build 'edge data centres' for efficient digital delivery in rural, semi-urban areas



RailTel to build 'edge data centres' for efficient digital delivery in rural, semi-urban areas
RailTel has decided to create numerous "edge data centres" in rural and semi-urban areas to bridge the digital divide in the country and also accelerate the pace of digital transformation. These are small data centres located at the edge of the network, where they are closer to end users and devices.
"Having such kind of facility at the edge would enable faster performance and lower latency as organizations will not have to move the data to far-flung data centres to process it.
"Latency has always been a problem for data centre managers, but in recent times it has become a critical concern in view of wide range of next-generation applications like big data, the Internet of Things, Cloud and streaming services, and other technology trends," a statement from RailTel said.
RailTel is a central government PSU of Ministry of Railways providing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services and is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country owning a pan-India optical fiber cable (OFC) network of 60000+RKM (and growing) along railway track.
The OFC network covers important towns and cities of the country and several rural areas.
The PSU is seeking partners to establish such edge data centres in the railway premises/land across 102 locations especially tier-2 and tier-3 towns.
The prospective business associates/partners should be a company registered in India. This activity will entail an investment opportunity of over Rs 500 crore.
The process to establish these edge data centres has been set in motion with the floating of expression of interest inviting industry to partner in this exercise.
Under the proposed plan, initial capacity of envisioned edge data centre at each location can be of around 20 racks (5 KW to 10 KW each). However, edge data centre with variable rack and power density can be explored according to the requirement and availability of space, power and other factors at individual locations.
RailTel has around 9300+ points of presence and extensive optical fiber connectivity along the railway tracks and across the premises of Indian Railways, which makes the basic infrastructure readily available for the setting up of such edge data centres.
RailTel shall have the responsibility of providing the telecom/internet connectivity to the selected business associate.
Service offerings based on market requirement including health, education, skill development sectors will be jointly devised with selected partners, which may cover one or more basic service platform.
"Edge data centres will enable RailTel to deploy IT infrastructure for 'caching' of popular contents to improve experience of RailWire broadband customers as cached contents will then be served locally instead of travelling long stretch of network. Similarly, IT infrastructure for 'peering' with content players can also be deployed in these Edge Data Centres which would improve cost economics for delivery of contents," the statement said.
Puneet Chawla, CMD, RailTel said that with the help of such localized data centres, rural areas can be served with low latency applications related to digital skills, financial inclusions, digital literacy etc.
"The edge data centres will provide better experience and aid in adoption of digital services by the population of these areas and thus contributing to digital economy. The move will be another important steps towards the path of digital transformation. It will also provide an opportunity to local professionally skilled manpower to participate in this transformation", he said.