Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh lacks mobile connectivity: Sinha
There are no mobile towers installed within the 10-kilometre distance of India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh, according to data shared by the telecom ministry in Parliament Wednesday. The data shared by Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha shows that a total of 1,511 mobile towers has been installed within 10 kilometres of 5,182-kilometers long international border in the north-east.
Of the total towers on the international border, telecom companies have installed 1,373 mobile towers alongside India-Bangladesh border, 48 on India-Bhutan border and 90 around India-Myanmar border and no tower on India-China border.
"The Government is aware of lack of mobile connectivity in certain parts of North East Region and has already initiated a series of telecom projects to provide mobile services throughout the region in spite of various constraints such as difficult terrain, scattered habitations and insurgency," Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
According to telecom experts, a 2G mobile tower can transmit signal up to 4 kilometres and 4G tower can cover half of it. Under Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the North-Eastern Region (NER) approved by the Cabinet in September 2014, government has to instal 6,673 mobile towers for 8,621 identified uncovered villages, 321 mobile towers for National Highways in north-eastern states.
State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been given the responsibility of installing 2,817 mobile towers for providing mobile coverage in 4,119 uncovered villages of Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam vide agreement dated January 16, 2018.
"For installation of mobile towers under Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for NER, the time frame is 18 months from the date of signing agreement with USOF," Sinha said. Mobile connectivity in the region has been long pending demand of security forces as there have been several instances of incursions in the area.
In May 2016, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had requested Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to assist in providing telecom connectivity initially at 1,683 border outposts (BOPs) of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) -- Assam Rifles, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) etc spread throughout the country, including in the North-Eastern Region.
"Thereafter, MHA intimated the revised demand for connectivity, including broadband using Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) at around 3,000 BOPs. Preliminary estimates for wireless as well as OFC-based connectivity for these BOPs were provided to MHA in October 2017 and January 2018," Sinha said.
Bharti Airtel has been awarded tender to instal 2004 mobile towers in the rest of the region (except Meghalaya). The private telecom operator has been contracted to instal 2,173 mobile towers in Meghalaya in May 2018.
(With inputs from agencies.)