Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Poor cellular network connection in parts of three gewogs in Tsirang has been affecting the basic service delivery.

In the recent Tsirang Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT), Phuentenchu Gup Shivalal Karariya said that the issue was raised in the past DTs, but none of the agencies concerned intervened.

“In some chiwogs, residents at least have access to a weak network connection but one chiwog is completely cut off,” the gup said.

Three chiwogs in the gewog— Tongshingang, Norbuthang, Wangthangling—with a population of 1,500 have no access to proper network and internet connections.

Sergithang Gup Phub Dorji said that without a network connection, two chiwogs in the gewog with 350 residents still use feature (landlines) phones. “When there are important decisions taken at the gewog administration, the chiwog representatives have to convey the decisions to residents.”

Lack of such communication facilities in the backdrop of the increased number of social media users has affected information sharing, the gups said.

Some residents of Wangphu chiwog in Tsirangtoed travel to the gewog centre to avail the network services.

Takthang, Wangphu, and Chubelsa villages in the chiwog have 80 households without a proper network connection.

The gups said that network and internet connectivity has become an indispensable tool for rural development and inclusion of rural population in decision-making.

An official from Bhutan Telecom in Tsirang said that as there were not many network users in these places, there was no return on investment.

However, the official said that the challenges could be solved through Rural Connectivity Project implemented by telecom operators in collaboration with Bhutan Infocomm and Media Authority.

Tashicell’s regional manager Indra Ghallay said that there is one Tashicell tower above Phuentenchu gewog. However, the network connection, he said was hampered due to the geographical location of these places.

Once the five towers are complete, the issue could be solved, he added.

While Tashicell’s tower construction works at Tashithang chiwog in Sergithang are yet to begin, Phurba Dorji said that 50 percent of Bhutan Telecom’s tower construction works are complete.

Meanwhile, according to the Department of IT and Telecom the cost of Internet has dropped to Nu 550 for 1 Mbps per month from Nu 1,350 per mbps for government agencies connected to the Government Initiated Network due to the bulk purchase of bandwidth. This saves the government Nu 13,107,200 per month or Nu 157,286,400 annually, according to the Department of IT and Telecom.

The government agencies include research and educational institutes and health facilities throughout the country that are connected with existing optical fibre network infrastructure.

A press release from the department yesterday stated that Bhutan Telecom Limited has offered the internet leased line to all citizens at a reduced rate of Nu 550/Mbps w.e.f August 1 with the bandwidth subscription above 2Mbps. The other telecom company, Tashicell has also submitted revised leased line rates to BICMA which are expected to be announced shortly.

Tashicell last week announced that it would provide double the bandwidth for the same price.