Amphan: Telecom network in West Bengal could be back to normal by weekend

Mini buses damaged during Cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata
Telecom base transceiver stations (BTS), which enable mobile communication, but have been destroyed by Cyclone Amphan, are expected to be back in operation by the weekend.

A senior government official told Business Standard that nearly 50% of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's  base transceiver stations were damaged by the cyclone and would take a week to be fully restored.

Among the private telcos, Reliance Jio's base transceiver stations suffered the maximum damage at 33 per, Bharti Airtel at 23 per cent and Vodafone Idea at 13 per cent, said the official. The data services have been impacted more than voice in West Bengal and the damage to RJio's BTS could be one of the reasons.

The official, however, said that base transceiver stations belonging to Reliance Jio are expected to be the first ones to be restored as most of them run on power and not diesel gensets and will start functioning once power supply resumes. Reliance Jio also has overhead fibre cables which have already been restored, he said.

The private telecom operators did not respond to queries on the damage and restoration work. According to a person in the know, less than 10 per cent of the BSNL’s base transceiver stations will need to be restored in about a week 's time. The Department of Telecommunications on Thursday held a meeting with all the internet and telecom service providers for getting updates about the network situation in Kolkata. The meeting was presided by the Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash.

It has also been learnt that telecom companies have made significant progress in restoring base transceiver stations in West Bengal and the situation is likely to improve further over the weekend, when electricity supply is restored. BTS equipment, along with towers, is crucial for the restoration of services.

As far as Odisha is concerned, almost 100 per cent of the telecom infrastructure is up and running. Cyclone Amphan inflicted the maximum damage in West Bengal because it made landfall there. The cyclone later moved to Odisha.

Prakash asked both Airtel and Vodafone Idea to get 1,000 sites working in the next 24 hours during the meeting.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday visited West Bengal and announced a relief package of Rs 1,000 crore for the state. He also conducted an aerial survey of the cyclone-affected districts in Odisha.


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