Last week, a government-funded 4G tower of Airtel began operations in Lumpo, a village near the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh. This has opened up access to a new-age digital economy for the local population, who previously had to travel hours for basic services like banking, education, and shopping.
According to a PTI report, while Reliance Jio, Airtel's larger rival, already has a presence till Dirang, 38 km from Bomdila, Airtel aims to connect Jang (98 km from Dirang) by mid-May and Tawang (40 km from Jang) by the end of June. The new telecom tower is expected to provide locals with a host of services.
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Improvement in road infrastructure means that most people in Lumpo and nearby villages have their own vehicles, but the lack of a data network meant they still had to travel hours to access services. However, with the introduction of Airtel's 4G services, locals can now transact using Google Pay and PhonePe and even access online videos.
The village of Lumpo is located approximately 115 kilometres from Tawang district headquarters and is just a few kilometres from the Line of Actual Control. While Airtel has boosted telecom services on the Tawang border, Jio has a total of 457 sites on international borders, including 10 tower sites on the Indo-Bangla border in Tripula and 19 on the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya, as well as on the Indo-Myanmar border in Mizoram and Manipur.
The new tower has also opened up opportunities for education, with locals no longer having to send their children to Tawang town for basic schooling. Instead, they can now access online classes in the village itself.
Zemithang, another village near the Line of Actual Control, has also recently started receiving 4G signals from Airtel, although locals report that the signals are not yet regular.