Govt not to cut mobile connections over Aadhaar

New Delhi: The government will not disconnect mobile connections which aren’t linked with Aadhaar, said Aruna Sundararajan, secretary in the department of telecommunications (DoT), on Wednesday.

The department is waiting for the Supreme Court judgment on the Aadhaar issue to decide on the action to be taken in cases where people have Aadhaar but do not want to link it with their mobile number. “We are also working on alternatives for people who are abroad (to help them link their mobile number with Aadhaar),” Sundararajan said.

The DoT, meanwhile, is looking to finalize the new telecom policy by February and would release its draft papers by December-end for public comments, telecom minister Manoj Sinha said on Wednesday. “We are trying to bring a new telecom policy by February. For this the working group has started the process. We expect a high-level committee working on it to finalize draft by end of December and place it for public comments,” Sinha told reporters.

Speaking on the BharatNet project, the telecom minister said the government expects to complete the first phase of high-speed broadband project by the end of November. “Over 75,000 gram panchayats are ready with broadband services and all 1 lakh panchayats will be ready for broadband services by end of this month. Every month we are installing equipment in 8,000-9,000 panchayats. The whole project has been executed using domestically developed equipment,” Sinha said. The government is considering various models for rolling out the second phase of BharatNet project that will cover the remaining 1.5 lakh gram panchayats involving laying of 2.63 lakh km of optical fibres, he added.

According to Sinha, the BharatNet project will lead to generation of at least five lakh jobs once it is rolled out in all gram panchayats. “Airtel has shown interest in 10,000 gram panchayats for taking 1 Gbps connectivity on lease while Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea are interested in taking 100 Mbps connectivity on lease in about 30,000, 2,000 and 1,000 gram panchayats, respectively,” Sinha said.

The government will charge a low rate to telecom operators for providing broadband service under the BharatNet project.

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