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India’s Efforts to Bridge the Digital Divide in Arunachal Pradesh

The government has deployed 254 network towers to provide 4G mobile telephony connectivity to approximately 336 villages in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh. It had already approved 2,605 4G mobile towers for providing connectivity to more than 3,721 villages in Arunachal Pradesh with a total outlay of IN 2,6.75 billion.

The 254 4G mobile towers were dedicated to the nation earlier this week by several union ministers including the Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw. The inauguration ceremony was held at the State Legislative Assembly in Itanagar.

The towers will provide 4G coverage in hitherto uncovered villages, thereby bringing digital connectivity to remote villages, including several areas which have remained unconnected since India’s Independence. It is estimated that more than 70,000 subscribers will benefit from this initiative, with expected monthly data usage projected to exceed 40TB.

Efforts are being made to provide Arunachal Pradesh with access to high-speed network connectivity through various schemes and projects, including the ‘Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP-NER) for the North-Eastern Region’, ‘Provisioning of Mobile Services in Uncovered Villages of Arunachal Pradesh and 2 Districts of Assam’, and the 4G saturation project. These initiatives aim to ensure that previously uncovered villages in the state are equipped with mobile services and that the region is saturated with 4G coverage, enhancing digital connectivity in the area.

India is making concerted efforts to ensure digital and mobile inclusivity throughout the country, empowering its citizens through a last-mile digital revolution and the rapid expansion of mobile and digital services. The government is focused on bridging the digital divide and ensuring that even the most remote areas have access to digital and mobile technologies.

Recently, the National Highways Authority of India announced it is working to deploy around 10,000 km of optic fibre cables (OFC) infrastructure across the country over the next three years. The National Highways Logistics Management Limited (NHLML) will implement the network of Digital Highways by developing integrated utility corridors along national highways to develop OFC infrastructure. Around 1,367 km on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and 512 km on the Hyderabad-Bangalore Corridor have been identified as pilot routes for the Digital Highway development.

The deployment of internet connectivity to remote areas across the nation through the optical fibre cable network is expected to accelerate the implementation of 5G and 6G technologies. In particular, the recently inaugurated 246 km long Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway features a dedicated utility corridor of three metres wide, specifically designated for laying OFC. This corridor will serve as the backbone for the rollout of the 5G network in the region. The laying of OFC along National Highways has already commenced and is projected to be completed in approximately a year.

OFC network will allow direct plug-and-play or ‘fibre-on-demand’ model for telecom/internet services. The network will be leased out on a fixed price allotment mechanism on an open-for-all basis through a web portal to eligible users. The creation of Digital Highways will not only have a catalytic impact on the growth and development but will also contribute to the digital transformation of the country, the government claimed.

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