Between June 2016 and December 2017, average data rate has plunged by 90% to Rs 19 per GB while the average phone call tariff dropped by more than 60% to 19 paise per minute, as per Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha. “The tariff for mobile telephony services is under forbearance except for national roaming and rural fixed line services … The average outgo for voice and data services in India have shown a continuous downward trend, particularly in the recent past,” Sinha informed Parliament. He also stated that the average outgoing call tariff in June 2016 was 49 paise per minute, but at the end of December 2017, it decreased to 19 paise per minute.
And the most interesting part is the average data rate has fallen beyond imagination. In June 2016, the average data rate in India was Rs 205 per GB, but the same has decreased to Rs 19 per GB in December 2017. Along with the decrease in average data and talk time rates, the number of mobile connections in the country also decreased from 117 crore in March 2017 to 115.1 crore in January 2018, which is a surprising thing.
He also said that the government is working on various other projects such as BharatNet, which is aimed at connecting 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country with high-speed broadband. As per Sinha, the first phase of BharatNet has been completed by one lakh gram panchayats and the investment for the second phase is going on at the moment.
“In December 2017, Phase-I of BharatNet has been completed by connecting one lakh GPs…As part of this project, the last mile connectivity, through Wi-Fi or any other suitable broadband technology is to be provided at all the GPs in the country. The project is targeted to be completed by March 2019,” Sinha said in a reply.
A total of 2,68,963 km Optical Fibre Cable has been laid out across the country until March 25, 2018, connecting a total of 1,13,964 gram panchayats. Out of the total connected gram panchayats, 1,04,889 GPs have been made service ready as per Sinha.
Furthermore, the government is working hard to increase the mobile network connectivity in North East region. The government has recently signed an agreement with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for installing 2817 mobile towers in 4,119 uncovered villages at an estimated cost of Rs 2,258 crore.
“Agreement has also been signed with Bharti Airtel Limited and Bharti Hexacom Limited to install 2,004 mobile towers for providing mobile (including data) coverage in 2,128 villages and National Highways in NER,” Sinha further added.
Lastly, he said that a proposal has been made for delivering mobile services including data service at 4072 identified locations by Home Ministry in Left-extremist affected areas in Phase-II at an estimated cost of Rs 7,730 crores.