The central government on 23 December informed the members of the Lok Sabha that 55,669 villages in the country were still without the advantage of mobile telephony services.
Quoting facts and figures during the Question Hour, communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Around 5,41,939 villages out of 5,97,608 have been covered with mobile services, leaving 9.31% villages yet to be covered.”
Highlighting the government’s effort to ensure tele-connectivity across the country, Prasad said since demand for telecom services were price sensitive, the level of tele-density is ascertained by the consumers’ purchasing power.
The National Telecom Policy has the fixed the focus of increasing rural tele-density to 70% by 2017 and 100% by 2020. This brings the level of rural and urban tele-density at 48.79% and 152.36%, respectively, by September-end.
“The increase in rural tele-density has achieved momentum in recent times, but the gap between rural and urban tele-density can be justified by the variation in purchasing power of rural and urban consumers,” he said.
Several steps are being taken to improve telephony services, Prasad said, “Around 2,199 mobile towers are being set up in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states with a total estimated cost of Rs 3,567.58 crore.” As on 30 November 2015, 1,134 mobile towers were operating, he added.