Neten Dorji | Bumdeling

The villagers of Shingphel are counting the days and keenly observing the progress in the construction of the cellular phone tower close to their village.

By October, the highlanders of Trashiyangtse will have access to 4G for Data, 2G for voice, and voice over LTE  (VOLTE). They will no longer have to walk days to reach Shaso and YangtseLa to call especially during emergencies.

TashiCell, the cellular service provider company in Bhutan is installing terrestrial radio links at Shingphel. Highlanders expect to enjoy reliable mobile services.

In absence of a mobile network, people walk four days to reach Bumdeling gewog centre during emergencies. People of six households in Shingphel are currently in the mountains living with animals.

Tenzin Dema, a mother from Shingphel said that without telecommunication and internet connectivity in Shingphel, they feel isolated from the rest of the country.

“I am excited as installation of the network is going on. Now we can easily contact our family and friends during emergencies,” she said.

“We can also know what is happening in other parts of the world through social media and we can get the chance to listen to teachings of religious discourses,” Tenzin Dema said.

She said that the reliable network service will not only benefit them, but it will also help the cordyceps collectors and the pilgrims who are visiting Pemaling Nye.

According to highlanders, there is a record of people who died on the way before they could connect with health officials.

Ap Jamba, who is the oldest in Shingphel village said that without any network they can not inform what is happening in Shingphel.

“We can make a call for medical services during emergencies. Currently, it is difficult for us to connect with others,” he said.

Bumdeling Gup Mani Dorji said that the establishment of mobile connectivity would help people in many ways and improve their lives.

“Without the mobile network, people have to walk for days to reach Shaso and Yangtse La to make calls using the B-mobile network,” he said.

Once connected with a network, the highlanders can send messages through social media from their pasturelands.

“Not only highlanders but it would also benefit foresters and pilgrims during emergencies. They can discuss any issues with the gewog through social media,” said the gup.

The need for reliable mobile services in Shingphel was discussed several times in the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT).

TashiCell officials said that installing a terrestrial radio link at Shingphel cost Nu 33.5 million (M). Lau tower installation, Ngalimang, and Shingphel civil works have been completed.

“We would commercialise the service before the end of September month,” an official said.