Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw along with Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday launched high-speed fifth generation (5G) telecom services in Odisha.
Bhubaneswar and Cuttack became the first cities in Odisha to get 5G services starting Thursday. Earlier, during its nation-wide launch, 5G services were provided to President Droupadi Murmu's village Pahadpur in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha.
The 5G services have been unveiled in Odisha in the first phase of the national launch, much before the first phase deadline of March, 2023, Vaishnaw said. The Narendra Modi-led government has allocated Rs 5600 crore for setting up of about 5,000 telecom towers to connect about 7,000 villages of Odisha, the minister said.
"We have set a target to cover the entire state within the next two years," Vaishnaw said, adding that 5,000 towers will be set up within the next 18 months. It means by August 2024, all the villages of Odisha will have telecom connectivity.
Vaishnaw also said that the Modi government has allocated Rs 1,080 crore to provide broadband connectivity to every village and school of Odisha. He added that Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has informed him that an independent course on 5G will be introduced in the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) curriculum soon.
For the revival of BSNL, the Centre has allocated Rs 1.64 lakh crore. BSNL will start rolling out 5G service by 2024, he added. For the development of the IT industry in Odisha, software technology parks will be set up at eight locations -- Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Berhampur, Balasore, Angul, Koraput, Jajpur and Sambalpur -- by December 2023, Vaishnaw announced.
Pradhan said that 5G service will act as a game-changer for Odisha, as it will help the education, health and telemedicine sectors tremendously. On the occasion, Reliance Jio and Bhubaneswar-based SOA University also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on building a 5G lab and collaborate on relevant use cases.
The Union ministers also dedicated 100 telecom towers set up in different places across the state to the people. On the other hand, BJD MP and party spokesperson Amar Patnaik said, "When there isn't even access to telephone service, talking of 4G or 5G service being introduced in the state is only tall talk.
It will further exacerbate the digital inequity within the state." Out of the 51,311 villages in the state, 11,000 villages do not have mobile connectivity. Out of these, 10,000 villages are in the Maoist affected areas, he said.
While welcoming the introduction of 5G services, the BJD leader said the Centre should concentrate more on improving tele-density and internet connectivity in the rural areas of Odisha, particularly in the 10 districts where most of the people are tribals and deserve the services the most.