Expansion of B-Mobile connectivity to Athang not possible now
When others enjoy the modern facility of mobile connectivity to communicate and use social media, villagers in Athang under Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag still don’t have access to Bmobile connectivity.
Pem Zam 44 from Phagtakha chiwog said that although they have TashiCell connectivity but more often it is not reliable because they use the network from the tower which is installed somewhere in Dagana Dzongkhag.
Another villager Sangay Penjor 48 from Lokpokha chiwog said that while calling from TashiCell to B-mobile, the rate charge for the use of calling is very high which is very difficult for them to afford, so he added that they required B-mobile connectivity in their community.
When they have emergencies, it is very difficult for them to contact other parts which create more problem because their village lies in the most remote parts of the country, added Sangay Penjor.
Sr. Manager of Bhutan Telecom of Wangduephodrang, Tshering Wanchuk said that although Bhutan Telecom aspire to provide reliable service to as many user as possible but owing to limited budget, geographical terrain, demographic factors and technological capability, Bhutan Telecom is compelled to prioritize its limited resources. Thus it is not possible to set up or expand network everywhere.
However, he added that Bhutan Telecom, being a state owned corporation, is mandated to provide reliable telecommunication services which are socially beneficial at the same time there should be reasonable return on the investment.
After the setting in of competition in communication sector, the business proportion part gained more prominence. Thus any investment for expansion of mobile network or setting up of new network coverage must be supported with sound business case. Owing to the high investment required for any new expansion, it is only fair that there is reasonable return to their investment, added Tshering Wanchuk.
He further said that Athang gewog is one of the remotest villages with sparsely populated and settlement are scattered under Wangdue Dzongkhag and until recently did not have electricity or road connectivity.
“When compared to other places, Athang village had very minimal return to the high investment required to set up Bmobile cellular network,” said Tshering Wanchuk.
He added that till date Bhutan Telecom could not expand their network to the area as they had to prioritize on hydro project area and more populated towns where there are business case as budget are limited.
While, Bhutan Telecom do not have immediate plan to expand cellur network at Athang village but there is always a possibility in near future if government bear some of the investment cost or if Bhutan Telecom can relocate old network equipments from other places and if some parts of the fund is available, added Tshering Wanchuk.
But he added that even if network is expanded to Athang village in near future, there will not be 3G services as the cost would be high because Bhutan Telecom would need to acquire a different set of equipments and accessories for 3G service. “As there is no business case and also score lowly on social benefits, we do not see 3G services at Athang in immediate future,” said Tshering Wanchuk.
However, Officiating Gewog Administrative Officer, Kinley Dukpa said that installation of mobile tower, the geog administration has no role to play as it is totally governed by the corporation and private company. He added that they can only request the companies to help through Geog Tshogde.
Meanwhile, if the Bmobile cellular expands to this place it will cost about Nu.7-10 million. While, the Athang village have a total of 60 households with about 700 people.