Minister of State for Telecom, Devusinh Chauhan, announced on April 29 that all villages without 4G coverage will be connected by 2024. Speaking to PTI, Chauhan praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his encouragement to take government projects and services to remote locations. The minister highlighted that 38,000-40,000 villages across India currently do not have 4G connectivity, but the aim is to achieve full coverage by 2024. Once all villages are connected, Chauhan stated that it will lead to socio-economic transformation and help bridge the digital divide. The government plans to provide 4G mobile services in 24,680 remote and difficult-to-reach areas at a cost of ₹26,316 crore. The project, which includes capex and opex, will be funded through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and executed by BSNL using indigenous 4G technology. Additionally, over 6,000 villages with only 2G and 3G connectivity will be upgraded to 4G. Chauhan also revealed that the government has been working on a drive to connect unconnected villages through private firms and State-owned telecom company BSNL under USOF schemes. Almost 2.5 lakh villages have already been connected with optical fiber, and the government plans to connect another 4 lakh villages to high-speed broadband soon. The minister concluded that the government is inspired by Prime Minister Modi’s vision of digitization and Digital India.
Mr. Chauhan further added that the implementation of 4G network in all the uncovered villages will not only facilitate better access to information, but also improve healthcare services, education, and livelihood opportunities. The provision of 4G mobile services in remote and difficult areas will bridge the digital divide, thus empowering the rural population to become more digitally literate and self-reliant.
The project to provide 4G mobile services in uncovered villages has been approved by the Union Cabinet at a cost of ₹26,316 crore in July 2022. The project aims to provide 4G mobile services in 24,680 uncovered villages in remote and difficult areas. Additionally, the project has a provision to include 20% additional villages due to new-settlements, rehabilitation, withdrawal of services by existing operators, etc. Moreover, 6,279 villages that have only 2G and 3G connectivity will be upgraded to 4G.
The project will be executed by BSNL, using indigenously developed 4G technology stack, and will be funded through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). The project cost of ₹26,316 crore includes capital expenditure and 5-year operational expenditure.
Apart from covering villages under the 4G saturation project, the government has been running a drive to connect unconnected villages through private firms and the state-owned telecom firm BSNL. The government is providing financial support under USOF schemes to connect these villages. About 2.5 lakh villages have already been connected with optical fibre, and 4 lakh villages will soon be connected to a high-speed broadband network.
“In Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister has talked about digitisation and Digital India. We are working based on inspiration received from him,” Mr. Chauhan said.