The government has chosen Vihaan Networks (VNL) and HFCL to provide mobile connectivity in around 4,118 villages in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, which is part of its telecom infrastructure development for the North East region. The project is worth Rs 1,648 crore.
The initiative is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project – Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the North-Eastern Region – that aims to provide mobile connectivity in 8 states and was approved by the Union Cabinet in September 2014. The total project is worth Rs 5,336.18 crore.
FE was the first to report on the project, which also assumes strategic importance as Arunachal Pradesh shares its boundary with China, being marred by bickering amongst the participating firms leading to a delay in its implementation.
VNL emerged as the lowest bidder in the tender opened for the first phase on Tuesday by state-run telecom operator BSNL, who is overseeing the project. The home-grown telecom equipment maker has been awarded 70% of the project, which comprises the whole of Arunachal Pradesh. It will get to roll out around 1,893 mobile in the state.
The remaining 30% of the project has been given to second lowest bidder, HFCL. It will erect mobile towers in two districts – Karbi Anglong and Dima Haso — of Assam.
Under the comprehensive telecom development for North East, the government aims to provide mobile coverage in 8,621 unconnected villages and seamless coverage along the National Highways in the through 6,673 towers. The project is being funded from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
Last year both, VNL and HFCL, successfully completed BSNL’s project for creating telecom infrastructure in Left Wing Extremist (LWE) areas. They were chosen to provide voice and data connectivity by installing and maintaining 2,199 mobile towers in naxal affected states, the funding for which also came from the USOF.