July 27 completes exactly 365 days since the Cabinet approved a project for ‘Saturation of 4G mobile coverage of Uncovered Villages’ across the country (around 30,000 villages) at a cost of ₹30,620.49 crore, which is one of Prime Minister’s priority projects, but there is no development yet.

According to the Cabinet decision on July 27, 2022, the project was supposed to be rolled out in 500 days (365 days already passed) by Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), but since it has not started yet, the project may get delayed, just like many other projects under the Universal Service Obligation Fund (under Department of Telecommunications), sources told businessline.

As per the agreement, BSNL is supposed to provide the services by installing 4G mobile towers and upgrading its existing 2G/3G services, where no other telecom service provider (TSP) is providing 4G services and manage the same during the entire period of this agreement.


In a letter dated September 17, 2022, the Administrator of USOF had also written to PK Purwar, Chairman and Managing Director saying, “This agreement will remain valid for six years and 135 days (500 days rollout and 5 years of operation and maintenance) from the date of Union Cabinet approval July 27, 2022, unless revoked earlier for any reason whatsoever.”

The letter also mentioned that the ‘project for 4G saturation is of top priority’ and all surveys should be carried out as per the criteria to complete the project as per timelines of ‘500 days’.

As per the agreement, the project will provide 4G mobile services in 24,680 (16,464 mobile towers) ‘uncovered villages in remote and difficult areas’ and the project has a provision to include 20 per cent additional villages (4,936 villages/ 3,258 towers) on account of rehabilitation, new-settlements and withdrawal of services by existing operators.

“In addition, 6,279 villages having only 2G or 3G connectivity shall be upgraded to 4G. The project will be executed by BSNL using Aatmanirbhar Bharat’s 4G technology stack and will be funded through USOF,” it had said adding that accordingly, total villages for coverage under this scheme are 29,616 (24,680+4,936) with 19,722 mobile towers (16,464+3,258).


The tender was given to some of the local tower companies like Skipper, Pace, Bondada and Pratap, but sources said none of towers are functional yet and hence no mobile services to any of the villages.

Questions seeking answers on the development to the project from BSNL CMD by businessline, remained unanswered till the time of press.