Sinlung /
17 November 2014

Mobile Network Hope For 8000 Villages

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh




Shillong, Nov 17 : Altogether 8,621 villages in the Northeast out of 9,190 unconnected ones will be provided mobile connections under a central plan to bridge the connectivity gap and improve rural telecom infrastructure of the region.
The project will also provide seamless connectivity to national highways through 321 mobile towers.
According to the reply by Union communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently to Tura MP P.A. Sangma’s letter, more than 900 villages in West, East and South Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya are proposed to be covered under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the Northeast.
“The Centre is committed to providing mobile connectivity in rural and remote areas of the country.

To bridge the connectivity gap and improve telecom infrastructure, a Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the Northeast has been approved by the government,” Prasad said.
The villages of Garo hills will be covered by 2G mobile connections under the plan, he added.
Garo hills is an example of the low mobile connectivity being experienced in the region.
There are hundreds of areas in the Northeast, which are yet to experience the “telecom revolution” in a befitting way.
Sangma, in his letter to Prasad, said the Northeast requires special attention not only because of existing poor connectivity in the region but also because of the sensitivity of the region, as 98 per cent of the northeastern states’ borders are shared with other countries.
While referring to various villages in Garo hills, which do not have any form of mobile connectivity yet, but have sufficient population to make connectivity viable, Sangma said, “There are some areas along the border with Bangladesh where people are using mobile networks available from Bangladesh due to unavailability of any Indian service provider.”
Sangma said using Bangladesh mobile networks was not only inconvenient for the people in view of the high cost they have to incur, but also unsafe “in terms of people, including BSF jawans manning the border”.
On September 10, the Union cabinet had approved the telecom plan for the Northeast, which entails an estimated expenditure of Rs 5,336.18 crore, to be funded from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
The USOF would fund capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) of net revenue for a period of five years.
The project also seeks to increase the connection reliability of the district and state headquarters across the region by providing alternative optical fibre connectivity.
This will ensure that notwithstanding any problem in one route, the voice and data transfer through other routes will keep the district and state headquarters connected.
The project is aimed at covering the uncovered villages in the Northeast and to maintain seamless connectivity on national highways in the region.
At present, there are 43,200 villages in the Northeast. Of this, 8,621 villages (20 per cent) of the unconnected 9,190 villages will be covered through 6,673 towers.
The Indian telecom network is the second largest in the world after China. As on March this year, the country has 933.02 million telephone connections, including 904.52 million wireless telephone connections, with an overall teledensity of 75.23 per cent.
While the urban teledensity is an impressive 145.46 per cent, the rural teledensity is a mere 44.01 per cent.

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