Nearly 3,160 villages in Andhra Pradesh still lack access to 4G services, according to the Central data, despite the introduction of 5G services by multiple telecom providers in places like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Tirupati, and Nellore. States have a total of 17,328 villages. And to make matters worse, there is still no mobile service in roughly 1,700 settlements. Of these 1,700 settlements, roughly 1,000 hamlets are found in the Alluri Sitharama Raju district, which was formed by carving a part of tribal areas of the former united Visakhapatnam district. Service delivery, e-governance initiatives, learning opportunities, information dissemination, etc., in places without mobile connectivity, are all visibly impacted by the problems with grass-roots connectivity.
Andhra Pradesh’s Rural Areas Lack 4G Connection
According to a TNN report, the existing social and economic disparities in these places may only be made worse by the technology divide and digital exclusion brought on by connectivity problems. One can get a sense of how isolated the tribal people are from the outside world by paying a quick visit to those living in hard terrain in the Chintapalli, Araku, GK Veedhi, Munchingiputtu, Dumbriguda, Ananthagiri, Pedabayalu, etc. mandals in the ASR district. This has become a significant barrier to internet uptake, at least for mobile devices. During the Covid-19 pandemic's zenith, students in these areas faced a variety of e-learning challenges as the rest of the world mostly shifted to online education.
The provision of mobile services in unconnected villages of aspirational districts across several states, including Andhra Pradesh, received clearance from the Union Cabinet in November 2021. In 1,218 villages in the districts of Visakhapatnam (1,054), Vizianagaram (154), and Kadapa (10), 4G-based mobile services are expected to be made available as part of the initiative.
An estimated cost of Rs 6,466 crore has been put out for the complete project. Tenders for this project, which was funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), were made public in 2022. The project will be completed within 18 months of the agreement's execution date, according to the officials. Even if the cell network is expanded to these 1,218 isolated villages in Andhra Pradesh by USOF, 569 of them will still be unreachable.
In the tribal area of Visakhapatnam, there are roughly 3,000 villages. Due to a lack of mobile and internet access, even a number of village secretariats that were established for better door-to-door service delivery and government programme outreach were unable to achieve their goals.