Telecom Secretary Asks States To Utilise BharatNet Network In 60 Days

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan Monday said states should operationalise the connectivity in gram panchayats or village blocks within the next 60 days, otherwise Centre would transfer mega initiative to Common Service Centres (CSCs) or private companies, and added that despite states don’t deploy telecom infrastructure but yet resist to Right-of-Way (RoW) permissions.

“States are not putting towers but also not allowing it. In states, companies pay six-fold higher or Rs 2,650 crore as against the Centre which prescribed fee of Rs 423 crore for such Right-of-Way permissions,” Sundararajan strongly said while addressing to nearly 30 representatives from state governments and Union Territories (UT).

The top official said that the utilisation is lagging behind in many states, and added that the states should identify developmental institutions in respective village blocks within 60 days or the program might be shifted to private players or CSCs.

“Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) are not doing ideal job and hope, they are listening,” she said, adding that the two state-run companies would also be bound to follow service-level agreements (SLAs).

The Department of Telecom (DoT) statistics reveal that in Uttar Pradesh, out of the network in 28,000 village blocks, only 151 were utilised; in Maharashtra’s 15,126 blocks, only 338 were operationalised; and in Madhya Pradesh’s 12,687 blocks, only 899 were operationalised.

“For mobile connectivity, service quality is not satisfactory due to lack of towers which entirely comes under state responsibility,” the official said, adding that if states make RoW norms easier, only then telcos could expand infrastructure.

The department has also decided that fibre cuts in states would also have a negative impact on index that would initially have as many as 10 characteristics, and an incentivisation scheme would also be worked on for states which demonstrate improvement.

Sundararajan also said that some states such as Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Tamil Nadu have evinced interest to initiate fifth generation or 5G technology trials.

“In metros, 5G trials are already on. The department is initiating discussions under professor Paulraj with all original equipment makers (OEM),” she added. – Gadgets Now

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