Ladakh Admn strengthening mobile network in remote, border areas

Nearly 70 towers sanctioned under USOF in 2 years

Laying of Optical Fiber Cable being geared up

Mohinder Verma
LEH, Sept 24: Several remote and border areas, which generally witness standoff between Indian Army and Chinese military, have either been brought on the mobile network or shortly going to receive this facility as with the persistent efforts of the administration of Union Territory of Ladakh nearly 70 towers have been sanctioned Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) during the past two years.
Moreover, all out efforts are being made by the administration with the assistance of Army to gear up laying of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) in the far-off and border areas of the Union Territory for the convenience of the people as well as security forces.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that ever since the formation of Union Territory of Ladakh the administration is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that all those areas, which were never considered for mobile network, receive the due attention and because of the persistent efforts of the administration nearly 70 mobile towers have been sanctioned during the past two years.
“Majority of these towers have been sanctioned under Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), the objective of which is to provide access to telecom services in a non-discriminatory manner to people in the rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices thereby bridging the rural-urban digital divide”, they further said.
It is pertinent to mention here that USOF inflow comes from the collection of Universal Access Levy (UAL) through the license fee charged on licensee of Department of Telecommunication (DoT) at the rate of 5% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). For commercially non-viable rural and remote areas, USOF provides subsidy support in the form of Net Cost or Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to incentivize telecom service providers.
“Some of the border areas like Demchok and Chumur, which generally witness standoff between the Indian Army and Chinese military have already been brought on the mobile network while as efforts are being made for sanctioning of mobile towers under USOF for other extreme border villages”, sources disclosed.
Similarly, the far-off areas like Waris, Tangste, Durbuk, 9 Post, Bobgang and Lingshed, whose inhabitants were demanding mobile service during the past many years, have finally received the facility with the efforts of the Ladakh UT administration, sources further informed.
“The Union Communication Ministry is very generous in conceding the demand regarding bringing more and more areas of Ladakh Union Territory under the ambit of mobile network and all out efforts will be made to ensure that people of those areas which are still not covered receive the benefit of the same”, said Member of Parliament Jamyang Tsering Namgyal when contacted.
“The administration has decided to project the demand of installation of towers in uncovered areas and formal request in this regard will be made with the Union Communication Minister shortly”, said a senior officer of the UT, adding “the expansion in mobile network is imperative not only for the people but for the security forces also”.
Meanwhile, administration is exploring ways and means to better the voice and data services by the telecom operators, sources said, adding detailed discussions in this regard are going on at regular intervals with the representatives of BSNL, Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vindhya Telelinks Ltd.
Airtel and Reliance Jio have agreed to improve the quality of connectivity by increasing their spectrum from 5 MHz to 10 MHz. Reliance Jio has already activated towers at Meeru, Sangra, Abran, Akshow, Gyaling, Parkachik, Rangdum and Umba.
Moreover, formal request has been made to the Army for expediting permissions for the laying of OFC/erection of mobile towers in the border areas. The Telecom service providers have already been asked to coordinate with the Chief Signal Officer of the 14 Corps for getting the cases expedited at the earliest.