The Odisha government has asked telecom companies to submit expansion plans for covering the 8,000 villages untouched by mobile connectivity.
Across the country, there are 35,000 villages that are deprived of mobile connectivity. Odisha, with 8,000 such villages, tops the list for uncovered habitations. Districts such as Rayagada, Malkangiri, Kandhamal, Koraput and Gajapati in the state’s southern region have over 50 per cent villages where mobile services are yet to foray.
“The state government has sought expansion plans from individual telecom companies (telcos) for 2019-20 for covering the 8,000 villages which do not have mobile coverage. Industry associations — Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) — have been urged to consolidate various plans of telcos and share the plan with E&IT (Electronics and Information Technology) department,” said Rudra Narayan Palai, special secretary, E&IT, Odisha government.
In a meeting held recently with the stakeholders of the telecom sector, Odisha had impressed upon the companies to improve the quality of voice and data services. The meeting was attended by officials from Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, COAI and TAIPA.
Sources said that the number of uncovered villages, which stood at around 11,000 in 2017, in the state has come down to 8,000 due to the addition of new telecom infrastructure. More than 20,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) were added in the past two years.
The tele-density (number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area) in Odisha is pegged at 77.02 per cent. The density in the rural belt is 61.61 per cent, compared to 146.21 per cent in urban areas. Around 80 per cent of mobile users in the state have data connectivity and 13.25 million people in the state are internet subscribers.
The state government has assured the telecom operators that it will address all their concerns such as power supply and right of way — factors that have supposedly impeded plans to expand into the uncovered regions.