The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is considering to behest data networks or 4G technology in state-funded connectivity programs to uncovered villages. However, the move by DoT could have serious implications. As reported by ET Telecom, mandating data networks in remote villages will impact the state-owned telco BSNL. Also, the move will be a threat to national security. As per an unknown source from the department, the absence of next-generation services will trouble BSNL as it will lose government-funded connectivity options in security prone areas.
DoT Might use 4G Technology in USO Funded Projects
Telecom department sources reveal that the use of 4G technology might be done in USO funded project. In case if you are unaware, Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a whopping Rs 52,000 crore reserve to bridge the digital divide in nearly 30,000 remote villages where mobile connectivity is still not present. However, the top officials have not finalised anything regarding mandating data networks in remote villages as they are considering the implications of the move.
BSNL Might Not Launch 4G Services Until 2021
State-owned telecom operates BSNL and MTNL has already received the revival package for growth and sustainability in the telecom market. Also, the revival strategy is being implemented along with the launch of 4G services to aid the telco financially. However, the tender of next-generation equipment procurement has been cancelled, and it is expected that BSNL might not be able to launch 4G services until 2021.
Data Networks in Remote Regions Might Endanger National Security
Various experts have raised their concerns and stated that mandating data network in remote regions such as international borders, Naxal-hit states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands might endanger national security as it might increase the usage of OTT platforms and exchange of encrypted messages.
DoT Must Explore 2G+4G Connectivity in Remote Regions
RK Bhatnagar, who is a former advisor to telecom department, stated that DoT must explore 2G+4G sites in uncovered villages. In case of an emergency shutdown, the 4G network can be turned off, and the 2G connection will be viable for unconnected villages. Also, state-owned telco should have USOF backing in such initiatives.