India’s RailTel, a central government PSU (public sector undertaking), has announced plans to work with a number of partners to create edge data centres at railway premises across 102 locations in India.
An Expression of Interest has been sent out encouraging potential partners to come forward. However, such partners are expected to be companies registered in India and to make a significant investment: Rs 500 crore (about $67.8 million) has been mentioned.
India’s Economic Times reports that the initial capacity of each edge data centre at each location will be around 20 racks (5 KW to 10 KW each), though this will vary according to need, space and power requirements.
Edge data centres – small-scale data centres located close to end users and devices – are being adopted by a number of businesses, not least as a way to overcome the latency problem inherent in using data centres off site or even in another state or country.
It may seem strange that a railway-owned group should be so ambitious in the telecom space but in fact RailTel is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country. It was formed in 2000 with the objective of creating a nationwide broadband, telecom and multimedia network to modernise train control, operation and safety for Indian Railways.
RailTel owns a pan-Indian optical fibre cable network of over 60,000 kilometres along Indian Railways railway track. The network covers many important towns and cities and several rural areas, in particular delivering RailWire, a community-based broadband internet service provided by RailTel in partnership with more than 6,000 communities in India.
The aim of the edge data centre undertaking, not surprisingly, is to enhance the experience of RailWire broadband customers through locally cached content. It is hoped that the project will also give a boost to Digital India, a flagship government programme whose aim is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
This isnt the only significant RailTel intitiaitve in recent months. We reported last October that the state-run telecom research and development organisation Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) and RailTel had signed a pact to work together in the telecom space with a key focus on the modernisation and expansion of communication networks across the country.