The government of India has sanctioned Rs 5,000 crore to provide 2G mobile coverage to this area for better connectivity said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the Hornbill Festival in Kohima. He said that Rs 5000 crore has been earmarked for improvement of intrastate power transmission systems and a similar amount for boosting 2G mobile connectivity.
In a bid to improve telecom services in the northeastern states, the government will invest Rs 5,000 crore to set up over 8,000 mobile towers in the region. Under the project, new telecom towers (in uncovered areas) will be set up as greenfield installations; coverage along National Highways is to be perked up and if required, optical fibre cables laid.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had last year recommended an investment plan to improve services in north east India. In the meantime, the TRAI recommended a 2 per cent discount on annual licence fees for telecom operators that cover at least 80 per cent of habitations with a population of 250 and subsidies for installation of solar power units at telecom towers.
For more, the regulator also recommended investments to provide seamless connectivity across national highways in the north east region covering Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. State-run companies BSNL and Power Grid Corporation of India recently signed an agreement to improve telecom connectivity in the region.
The region has a strategic importance because of its proximity to the neighbouring countries of China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. Improving coverage is likely to help facilitate mobile surveillance. Around 9,190 villages (as per 2011 Census) out of the 43,200 in the region still lack 2G voice calling facility, the report mentions.
Among those to be brought under the mobile loop, 2,886 villages are in Arunachal Pradesh, 2,885 in Assam and, 2,389 are in Meghalaya. Tripura only has two villages. A detailed report by Telecom Consultants India Ltd, states that 6,673 towers will be set up. In case of coverage along the National Highways, another 321 towers need to be installed at an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore. Maximum sites need to come up along the National Highways in Arunachal Pradesh (149); followed by Manipur (53); and Nagaland (48).