The world’s largest green mobile communication network is now live!
Can mobile towers light up lives, connect families, open doors to the world, provide livelihoods, and make lives easier? Yes, they can! Here’s the story of how, quietly but surely, the first major milestone of the PM’s Digital India mission has taken wing, with a mobile phone network now connecting regions worst affected by Left-Wing extremism.
India’s Red Corridor spans a region across 10 states, where Left-Wing extremists have taken root, continually disrupting state machinery and activities. The region is poor, under-developed and inaccessible, heavily-forested, with almost no infrastructure, such as roads, railways and power.
The Government of India has evolved a multi-pronged strategy to develop and mainstream these areas, among which is the setting up of a robust communication network. It is well documented that ICT development leads to all-round economic growth and poverty reduction.
The world’s largest green mobile communication network…
In a project championed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and financed by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), 2199 solar-powered mobile communication towers have been setup and commissioned in these areas, in a record time of less than one year. Optimised base-stations, designed and manufactured indigenously by VNL, beam GSM voice and data signals from these towers, and are networked with the nearest BSNL exchanges. Wireless backhaul and subscriber management is provided by BSNL.
Voice and data connectivity has opened the doors to a whole new world for citizens. In areas bereft of roads, railways and electricity, communicating with family, friends, associates and the outside world is now possible. Information related to agricultural inputs and markets is now available. Banking and other commercial activities are now accessible. Emergency and other health services are within reach. Governance is easier and more interactive.
The mobile communication network also helps counter-insurgency operations. Security personnel can also be in touch with their families, living far away.
…Is changing the landscape, livelihoods and lives
This project has altered not just the geographical, but also critically, the social landscape of the area. Deprived citizens, living on the edge of poverty have started moving on the path to progress. Just how much integration and social change this investment will bring about can only be measured rightfully in the years to come.
In the short-term however, the project is already showing a positive impact on the LWE areas
- 22,688 villages connected in 90 districts across the disturbed states
- Coverage of nearly 1.8 crore citizens, with over 39 lakh mobile connections
- Local employment generation of over 26,500 directly and indirectly
- More connected soldiers and security forces operating in the region
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that as India celebrates her 70th year of Independence, lakhs of Indians in the LWE-affected areas are celebrating freedom of another kind: freedom from isolation, poverty and backwardness, enabled by mobile connectivity.
In the press:
- BSNL installs 2,199 mobile towers in naxal-hit areas
- Vihaan Network Ltd (VNL) accomplishes the dream to reach out remote villages in Left Wing Extremists (LWE) region
- Vihaan Networks Limited: Setting an example in rural telecom deployments
- Total 1,315 solar empanelled Wi-Fi towers built in Red Corridor