‘Landslides, road upgradation behind telecom problems in northeast’

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Stating that a Rs.5,336-crore project was underway in the northeast to upgrade the telecom infrastructure, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said landslides and road widening work were affecting services in the region.

“Frequent disruption in optical fibre cable links are happening in northeast region due to road widening works and landslides etc,” Prasad, who also overseas the IT department, said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

He was replying to Wansuk Syiem, a Congress MP from Meghalaya.

The minister said a comprehensive telecom development plan for the northeast was approved by the union cabinet in October last year.

“The total cost of the plan is Rs.5,336.18 crore (Rs.53.36 billion). The plan would be funded from the Universal Service Obligation Fund,” he said.

“It includes providing 2G mobile coverage to uncovered villages and uncovered national highways in the northeast and to implement a scheme for reliability and redundancy in the transmission network at state capitals and district headquarters in the region.”

To Syiem’s question on whether the central government was doing away with its earlier restriction on mobile towers within a 10-km radius of international borders, Prasad said according to the licence agreement for unified licence, the “licensee shall ensure that the base station, cell sites or radio transmitters, as the case may be, to provide mobile telephone services near international border of India, wherever located and established, shall be as far away from such border as feasible”.

Such base stations, cell sites or radio transmitters would work in such a fashion that radio signals, emanating from there, faded out when nearing or about to cross the international border and become unusable within a reasonable distance across such border, he said.

“Based on licence agreement, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is providing as well as augmenting its mobile services along Indo-Bangladesh borders as per its techno-commercial considerations,” the minister said.

He also said BSNL has signed an agreement with Power Grid Corporation of India Limited for leasing of 79 links of 10 gbps each for providing reliable connectivity to major cities including state headquarters in the northeast.

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