11:08 am - Saturday 29 April 2017

TRAI proposes Rs 2918 crore investment to improve phone services in North East

By insightVAS - Fri Sep 27, 11:16 am

The telecom industry watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed Rs 2,918 crore plan for the improvement of telephone services in North East.  

“The bill for all this is in the range of Rs 2,900 crore. The actual amount is less, about Rs 2,350 crore, plus 30 percent add-on due to difficult terrain in North East which is why it comes to Rs 2,900 crore,” TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar told.

He was speaking after releasing TRAI’s recommendations on “Improving Telecom Services in the North-Eastern States: An Investment Plan”.

TRAI has recommended 2 percent discount in licence fee, charged annually, of those telecom operators who cover at least 80 percent of the habitations with a population of 250 and subsidies for installation of solar power units at telecom towers. The regulator has also recommended investment for providing seamless connectivity across National Highways in the North East region covering Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

“About one-sixth of National Highways, stretch of about 1,600 kilometers do not have telephone connectivity at all. The fact of the matter is teledensity is low compared to national standard and in terms of coverage to villages is very low which is very sad,” Khullar said.

He said that in some of the states in the region the teledensity, or phones per 100 people, is as low as 40 to 46 percent compared to national average of over 70 percent.

TRAI has also said that telecom service providers should enter into inter and intra-circle roaming among 2G operators where they have licence to operate within 6 months.

“Investment has been estimated for providing 2G mobile coverage in towns and villages having population of more than 250 persons. For 3G services, initially it has been planned to provide it in urban areas in the region,” TRAI’s Principal Advisor Sudhir Gupta said.

TRAI has recommended providing subsidy from Universal Services Obligation fund for bandwidth charges through satellite connectivity.

DoT has sought Trai’s view on gap analysis and draw upon detailed investment plan on April 22, 2013

“Chief Ministers of eight states in this region had particularly complaint to central government about quality of telecom service available. DoT wrote a letter to us asking us for a recommendation on how to revamp telecom services in the North East… That is the backdrop in which authority has come up with its recommendation,” Khullar said.

The regulator has asked state governments in North East to address issues raised by the telecom operators on priority so that they are encouraged to roll-out services faster, provide land, government building, power for mobile towers, single-window clearance system for all telecom related issues among others.

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