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Work underway to provide mobile connectivity in border villages of J&K, Ladakh, other areas: Prasad

NEW DELHI: Work is underway on a Rs 337 crore project to provide mobile services in 354 uncovered villages in remote and border areas of the country, union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.

The project includes all uncovered villages of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh.

"A Rs 337 crore tender has been floated for the same and work is going on. This will include 87 uncovered villages of Jammu and Kashmir. After completion of this project, there will not be a single uncovered village left in Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh for mobile services," the telecom and IT minister told reporters.

The project includes 144 border villages in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, while the rest are in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, the telecom ministry said in a statement.

Prasad said the government is also installing VSATs (Very Small Aperture Terminals) to provide satellite phone services to soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh so that they can connect with their families.

Satellite-based DSPTs (Digital Satellite Phone Terminals) are also being provided at 1,347 sites for Army, BRO, BSF, CRPF, ITBP and SSB, among others, out of which 183 sites have already been commissioned.

Prasad said the Department of Telecom is working on providing mobile connectivity in villages in 24 aspirational districts in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

A total of 7,287 uncovered villages in 44 aspirational districts in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh will also be covered.

According to telecom ministry data presented in Parliament in February, there were around 27,721 villages (as per census 2011 data) which were not covered by mobile services.

The minister further said the Chennai - Andaman and Nicobar Islands (CANI) optical fibre link launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday will increase innovation and establish more startups in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"Earlier we were supplying the internet using satellite bandwidth at 4 gigabit per second (Gbps) speed. After the start of the link between Chennai and Port Blair, speed will be 400 GBps and other islands will get 200 Gbps. This will encourage innovation there, increase startups," Prasad said.

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PTI