NEW DELHI: Competitive call tariffs and the dwindling cost of data has led to high penetration of mobile phones in the country. But, despite so much technological progress towards ‘Digital India’, there are more than 50,000 villages in the country that are yet to get mobile phone connectivity. Data released in July, 2018 by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) discloses 52,685 villages still do not have connectivity.
The bulk of these villages are in Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which are affected by Left-Wing Extremism (LWE). Odisha tops the list with over 10,000 villages. The northeastern states and several hill states like Himachal Pradesh are also lagging behind. The data reveals there were 1,189 million wireless subscribers in March 2018, up from 1,170 million in 2016-17.
In cities, Delhi has the highest number of mobile connections at 54.26 million. Mumbai comes in second with 36.52 million connections. Among states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list.
The service area in the state has been divided into UP East and UP West, with 104.19 and 63.40 million connections, respectively. Other big states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal are far behind.
A senior official said the government planned to increase connectivity in a phased manner.
In the North Eastern Region (NER), under the Comprehensive Telecom Development for NER, an agreement with BSNL was signed for 2,817 mobile towers in 4,119 villages of Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam at an estimated cost of Rs 2,258 crore.
Similarly, an agreement was also signed for 2,004 mobile towers in 2,128 villages and national highways across the rest of the NER (except Meghalaya) at an estimated cost of Rs 1,656 crore.
With regard to LWE-affected areas, the work has been divided in two phases. Under Phase I, 2,355 locations have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs where work for installation of mobile towers has started. Under Phase II, 4,072 towers will be installed in villages.