97.62 Percent Inhabited Villages Gets Telephone Connectivity
Shri Milind Deora, the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology today informed Rajya Sabha in written reply to a question that BSNL has covered all DHQ and 33620 cities/towns with GSM based cellular services as on July 31, 2011.
Reply further stated that the shared mobile infrastructure scheme has been launched by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USO Fund) to provided subsidy support for setting up and managing 7353 number infrastructure sites/towers (revised from 7871) in 500 districts spread over 27 States for provision of mobile services in the specified rural and remote areas, where there was no existing fixed wireless or mobile coverage. Villages or cluster of villages having population of 2000 or more and not having mobile coverage were taken into consideration for installation of the tower under this scheme including hilly, tribal and naxal affected areas. Infrastructure providers have reported that 7289 towers i.e. about 99.13 per cent have been set up as on 31.7.2011 under this scheme.
In view of large scale churn of landline connections mainly due to customer shift towards mobile, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has no major plans to install new telephone exchanges in the country. However, based on requirement, spare capacity is being redeployed from “No Demand to Demand area” by the telecom circles.
As on 31.7.2011, about 5,79,486 villages i.e. 97.62 per cent of the Census 2001 inhabited revenue villages have been covered with telephone connectivity through Village Public Telephones (VPTs). For provisioning of VPTs in remain inhabited revenue villages, the details of ongoing USOF schemes are as follows at (i) and (ii):
(i) VPTs under Bharat Nirman
Agreements were signed with M/S BSNL in November 2004 to provide subsidy support for provision of VPTs in 62302 (revised from 66822) number of uncovered villages in the country excluding those villages having population less than 100, those lying in deep forests and those affected with insurgency. The provision of VPTs in these villages has been included as one of activities under Bharat Nirman programme. As on 31.7.2011, 62030 i.e. 99.56 per cent VPTs have been provided under this scheme.
(ii) Newly Identified VPTs
Reconciliation of the VPTs working in the inhabited villages as per Census 2001 was carried out taking into account the existing VPT and those provided under Bharat Nirman. All the remaining 62443 inhabited villages as on 1.10.2007 as per Census 2001 irrespective of criteria of population, remoteness, accessibility and law and order situations have been included for provision of VPTs with subsidy support from USO Fund under this scheme. Agreements in this regard were signed with BSNL on 27.2.2009. As per the terms and conditions of the agreement the VPTs installed between the periods 1.10.2007 to 26.2.2009 are also eligible for subsidy support. As on 31.7.2011, 51773 VPTs out of the 62443 i.e. 82.91 per cent VPTs have been provided under this scheme.