Leh, Jan 2 (ANI): Imagine a day, when you wake up to find that all your mobile phones, internet connectivity, landlines, fax lines - have stopped working. Panic? This would be akin to a comma placed in your lifeline as we have become so addicted to our tech-stuff that all our daily chores will be seriously affected in their absence.
They keep us connected and updated. Nowadays the connectivity is pumping at the speed of 3G as evident from one of the several advertisements that target the need of rapid connectivity by telling the entire nation to get "Busy on 3G". Others will tell you the same in different words. We are so full of options that we have started taking these services available to us for granted.
All these promises of high speed and great connectivity get faded away as soon as you leave the metropolitan comfort and enter the life of a person sitting in a valley carved by two huge mountain ranges. Here, your nightmare of "Limited" connectivity would surely have come true.
Ladakh, a remote region, located in the northernmost state of India, Jammu and Kashmir, has three network providers as compared to the rest of the country which is flooded with big-small fishes that claim to provide the best network connectivity. So far, only three of the several best have managed to penetrate through the tough boundaries of Himalayas, that too partially.
Communication tools, in such rural and remote regions, play altogether a very different and significant role. The remaining viable communities in these locations need access to education, healthcare, government policies, media, consumer goods and information on changes that are happening all over the country. There are several schemes sponsored by the Central Government and e-Governance initiatives, which rely heavily on Internet connectivity for proper implementation.
According to the Ladakh Vision 2025 document, published by the Ladakh Autonomous Development Council, IT has been cited as a major area for development. MNREGA, IDSP, NCRP and CIPA are few of the many projects, which are dependent on IT.
During my internship, I discovered the technical aspect of Leh - Leh's Bandwidth and got to know about the bandwidth in context of e-Governance and IT development.
One of the three networks available in the region provides services like broadband connectivity, voice calls, SMS, and GPRS services while the remaining two lack broadband connectivity and offer poor quality in terms of voice calls and GPRS. This strong network provider facilitates services to both government and private organizations.
As compared to it, other private companies barely have an infrastructure to provide mobile communication services in the district. It is considered that it provides a high bandwidth to Leh through a special cable that stretches from Srinagar to Leh through the treacherous mountain roads. This cable known as the optical fiber cable (OFC) is the backbone of Leh's "limited" connectivity. I am one of the subscribers to the services of the only strong network provider of Leh and trust me it stops responding without any prior notice!
This brings us to a state of confusion that if Ladakh possesses such a high speed OFC then why the connectivity is poor? Why official papers reflect strong OFC while in reality people suffer week- long disconnection. Answer is simple - for a thing that was never laid properly, how can we expect it work efficiently? No quality standards were followed while laying the OFC. No follow up has been done since then. It was laid and left to the mercy of the conditions of this rough terrain. Snowfall, road constructions, public work and various other reasons have led to the miserable condition of OFC which today is highly damaged.
In Srinagar, there are multiple lines connecting it to the rest of the world. When one line is down for maintenance or any other reason, they can switch it to the other one for connectivity. While in Leh, when it is broken, the connectivity shifts to low bandwidth satellites and all the infrastructure and services based on the OFC are rendered useless. This is because the lines in Srinagar were laid properly with appropriate maintenance thereafter.
In the whole of Ladakh, there are very few cyber cafes, telephone booths, fax machines available and those too offer services at high rates. Most of the remote regions of the already remotely located Ladakh do not support any network. When the entire nation is benefitting from new agricultural techniques, educational reforms and government policies available due to communication tools, why the far-flung communities of Ladakh still belong to the marginalized lot?
The solution is to follow the standard procedure i.e. to provide Ladakh with an alternate backup line. These multiple lines will connect this station to rest of the world. There is more to Ladakh than tourism, which requires to be developed.
The Charkha Development Communication network feels that Ladakh deserves to be included in the communication nexus - Ladakhis need the connectivity! By Nilza Angmo (ANI)