Monday, 29 March 2010

We got the Cars…But whither the Roads? The Sad State of India’s Mobile Infrastructure

To clarify, this entry is linked to my previous entry about Mobile Technology.

Yes, I know, I know, the actual roads in my country are more potholes than tarmac, but I’m not going to rant about that, as there are enough activists, bloggers, public interest groups, etc breathing down NHAI’s neck and begging for PPP. PPP is Public Private Partnership – the closest concept to privatisation of transport infrastructure that India can achieve today.

Mobile Infrastructure in India takes two steps forward and one step back, thanks to our Government’s constant vacillation and inter-departmental fights, namely the Telecom Ministry, Defence Ministry & DRDO, and the latest Bug-Bears the Municipal and Metropolitan City Administrations.

I sympathize with The Defence Ministry, who, according to my opinion, is right in refusing to dispense with 3G radio spectrum that is currently being used by The Indian Armed forces.

Jawans battling and dying for our continued freedom at places like Siachen and Kargil are using outdated and bulky radio equipment that has been in service for over 30 years with 2G radio relay hubs, which translate to 50 Kg Backpacks.

The pressure from the telecom lobby on the Telecom Ministry, has given the Defence Ministry, a weak but effective leverage to push The DRDO to provide infantry platoons and the Jawans with integrated GPS-based navigation systems, secure lightweight walkie-talkie radio sets and better protective gear with a helmet that incorporates a built-in head-up display.

How effective this ploy is in getting DRDO approvals, is debatably dubious. As the 1972 model refurbished Arjun Tanks’ upgrade requests to DRDO are still “considered” as unessential.

The Telecom Ministry, has played favourites and released 3G spectrum to its own mobile service providers – MTNL & BSNL over a year ago, and has just recently announced the auction for the spectrum to the much bigger private corporate mobile phone. When the auction is concluded, and all disagreements sorted out…. The private players who will be licensed the 3G spectrum will begin upgrading their existing 2G infrastructure… How long this will take, is anyone’s guess… Safe to be thankful, atleast the process has been started!  

Coming to the latest Bug-Bears -  the Municipal and Metropolitan City Administrations- they have all of a sudden woken up and announced that the Cellular Tower Infrastructure, already in place, is of dubious safety standards, and many hundreds have been ceased and sealed, making them inoperative, causing immense trauma to the public.

Cell tower infrastructure providers need to furnish about 10 different NOCs/ clearances & certificates for each tower to be reactivated - Two steps forward and one step back…

So for all those Cadillacs (iPhones), BMWs (Android phones) and Mercedes (Nokias) out there… you still have to ride on the rocky cobblestones of India’s mobile infrastructure…. God save our suspensions!


External Links in this article –


End quote – “What if this weren’t a hypothetical question?”


  1. Aaargh!

    Brace for cell phone signal jam from today‎ - AGAIN!

    Hate to be correct on this score -

  2. DRDO's latest craze Star Wars -
    But what about equipment for Jawan!!! The Indian foot soldier?