The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) project for upgrading 2G mobile services to 4G at security sites in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas.
Briefing the media after the meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said that the project envisages upgrading 2,343 left Wing Extremism Phase-I sites from 2G to 4G mobile services at an estimated cost of Rs 1,884.59 crore (excluding taxes and levies).
The upgradation work will be awarded to government-owned BSNL.
The Cabinet also approved funding of operations and maintenance cost of LWE Phase-I 2G sites by BSNL for an extended period beyond the contractual period of five years at an estimated cost of Rs 541.80 crore.
The extension will be up to 12 months from the date of approval by the Cabinet or commissioning of 4G sites, whichever is earlier.
The government chose BSNL for a prestigious project to develop indigenous 4G telecom equipment so as to achieve self-reliance in the telecom gear segment to fulfil domestic market needs apart from exporting to other markets. This 4G equipment will be deployed in this project also.
The upgradation will enable better internet and data services in these LSW areas.
"It meets the requirements of Ministry of Home Affairs and the state governments and shall also fulfil the communication needs of the security personnel deployed in these areas," Thakur said.
The proposal is in line with the goal of providing mobile connectivity in rural areas and to facilitate the delivery of various e-governance services, banking services, tele-medicine, tele-education etc. through mobile broadband in these areas.