Given the hostile nature of the geo-political terrain of the remote and interior villages in the district, private telecom operators who were assigned the task of providing telephone connectivity under Universal Service Obligation have backed out and instead paid a penalty fee to the Department of Telecom.
The onerous task of providing connectivity to interior tribal habitations and villages that dot the hilly terrain of the Eastern Ghats has now landed on the doorstep of the BSNL Telecom District.
Out of the 1,800 villages that were to be covered, BSNL has been able to provide telephone connectivity through either WLL or GSM to 400 villages.
Further, there is little or no demand for phones in some of these villages and they are inaccessible.
To provide telephone facility in 51 such villages, the BSNL is proposing to install village Public Telephone terminals (VPTs) using digital satellite phone terminal (DSPT) technology.
The BSNL Telecom District Visakhapatnam has been able to identify custodian-cum-phone booth operator in 27 of these villages and is seeking expression of interest from customers in the other 24 villages, Senior General Manager Telecom District P Nagaraju said.
The project is being funded from the USO Fund of the DoT. It will cover both the capital cost as well as the cost of subsidised telephone tariff.
These devices are compact and require little storage and use low power.
In the North East these are solar powered, but the BSNL is providing long-discharge batteries which will be recharged using electricity.
These non-portable phones are locked to a location, and will be monitored by the BSNL Telecom district. The DSPTs can also be used to provide internet and video.
At present only voice is being enabled and once the traffic grows, video services will be provided on the instrument, BSNL General Manager (Consumer Mobility) R.M.M. Krishna said.
These villages do not have high telephone potential, but once the communication is enabled and the residents understand the advantage of the communication, the volume is expected to grow.
Since these are being installed as VPTs, the tariff is only Re 1 per unit.
The operator or custodian of the instrument gets 50 per cent of the billable amount as incentive, Mr. Nagaraju added.