Thank you for A&N Islands.... Next #4GforAll

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tl;dr

On August 10, 2020 our Prime Minister inaugurated the Chennai and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (CANI) Submarine Cable Systems Project. We wrote to him expressing our appreciation. Similar steps need to be taken on a mission mode for larger underserved areas which lack network infrastructure for  fast and affordable 4G internet. Further urgent policy reforms are necessary on the issue of Internet Shutdowns, especially for regions such as Jammu and Kashmir.

Firstly, thank you...

The issue of the lack of access to fast and affordable internet in Andaman & Nicobar Islands was brought to our notice in June, 2020. Subsequently, we took multiple steps to aid the people of the islands by writing to the PMO, DoT and to the Honourable Member of Parliament for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma.

In our representations, we highlighted the difficulties being faced by the people of the islands and requested that the CANI Project be operationalised at the earliest so that some of these difficulties can be eased. Yesterday, on August 10, 2020, the stalled project received a boost with an  inauguration by the Prime Minister. We are hopeful that the people of the islands will soon be free of the difficulties which they expressed to us and are committed to ensure its  actual execution.

Next? #4GforAll ?

We are now also planning on bringing greater attention to other parts of India which suffer from the absence of network infrastructure forcing their residents to be deprived of 4G connectivity. One such incident which we came across recently was BSNL switching off 4G internet in 17 low data sites in Odisha's Kalahandi, Nuapada and Balangir due to underutilization of ZTE 4G equipment commissioned in the areas.

In a reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Sanjay Dhotre, MoS for Communications, Human Resource Development and Electronics & Information Technology said that, “In 27,721 villages of India, there are still no mobile connections due to various issues”. Odisha trails the most with 6,549 villages without any mobile network. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh follow Odisha with 2000-3000 villages without any mobile network. This sets back our fellow Indians, from the benefit of fast and affordable 4G internet.

To ensure that the Prime Minister's Office takes notice of this issue, we with a letter of appreciation also undertook to provide regular inputs on many of these underserved areas. Our letter also highlights the tremendous inequity and the harm to human development due to the lack of reforms in our Internet Shutdown laws. Here we specifically draw attention to the continuing disruption in Jammu and Kashmir.

If you live in such a region that lacks mobile internet infrastructure and want to help us in mapping this digital divide, please fill out the form below. We will assess the reason for the lack of 4G infrastructure and seek appropriate interventions. Help us help you!

Mapping India's Digital Divide

Important Documents

  1. Letter the Prime Minister’s Office dated August 10, 2020 (link)
  2. For the people of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 4G internet at reasonable tariffs is still a dream... dated June 10, 2020 (link)
  3. We wrote to the PMO & DoT on the Access to Internet issue which is persisting in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands dated June 26, 2020 (link)
  4. The fight for fast and affordable internet in Andaman & Nicobar Islands continues...dated July 27, 2020 (link)

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