Andaman & Nicobar gets Rs 150 Cr for improving telecom connectivity

Andaman & Nicobar island has received Rs 150 crore from central government for improving telecom connectivity.

Kiren Rijiju, minister of state for home affairs said, “Actions are being initiated at a fast pace to overcome the problem of poor telecom connectivity in the Islands that suffer from paucity of satellite transponders and Rs 150 crore has already been released to the islands administration by the centre for improving telecom connectivity.

Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended submarine cable connectivity for both Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep union territories, costing the government Rs 2,278 crore.

The authority recommends capital expenditure of Rs 1,773 crore to be incurred for Andaman & Nicobar and Rs 505 crore for Lakshadweep. The authority also recommends that apart from one-time capital investment, the DoT/UT administration should compensate operating cost of telecom operation on yearly basis for Rs 130.40 crore for five years. Andaman & Nicobar will get Rs 104.16 crore whereas Rs 26.24 crore will be allocated for Lakshadweep. The yearly operating expenses may be reviewed after five years.

TRAI has recommended connectivity through submarine cable considering its strategic locations and the state of telecom services in Andaman and Nicobar islands. The connectivity through submarine cable must be established at the earliest possible for all the six identified islands in Andaman & Nicobar – Port Blair, Havelock, Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Kamorta and Great Nicobar, in the first phase itself and project implementation should be monitored at the highest level in the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The authority recommends that in addition to the already planned connectivity through Chennai, connectivity of Andaman and Nicobar islands should also be made from Kolkata through a submarine cable. The submarine cable connecting Chennai – Port Blair – Kolkata could be named the ‘SAARC’ cable.

TRAI has also recommended additional 283.71 MHz of satellite bandwidth to be made available for telecom connectivity of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep to cater to immediate and short-term requirements. GSAT-16, which is scheduled to be launched in 3rd quarter of 2014, at least 6 transponders of C-band may be allocated to BSNL exclusively for providing telecom services to Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep.

The authority recommends that the annual satellite bandwidth hiring charges for providing telecom services in these islands should be borne by USOF (universal service obligation fund) completely.

The DoT should also explore utilisation of 3400-3600 MHz band for satellite communication only for Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands. This will require that one of the earth stations in the mainland may also be allowed to use this band for satellite communication. Some adjoining areas around the earth station will also have to be excluded from IMT services to avoid interference.

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