New Delhi, Dec 23: As many as 55,669 villages are still without mobile telephony services, the government told Lok Sabha today.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the current level of rural and urban tele-density stood at 48.79 per cent and 152.36 per cent, respectively, at the end of September.
"5,41,939 villages out of total 5,97,608 villages in the country are already covered with mobile services, leaving only 55,669 villages ie. 9.31 per cent without coverage," the Minister said during Question Hour. There are 5,97,608 inhabited villages.
Asserting that the government's endeavour is to ensure telecom connectivity, Prasad said that since demand for telecom services is price sensitive, the level of tele-density is also determined by the purchasing ability of the consumers.
"The increase in rural tele-density has gathered momentum in recent times but the wide gap between rural and urban tele- density can be explained by the difference in purchasing power of rural and urban consumers," he said.
The National Telecom Policy has the set the objectives of increasing rural tele-density to 70 per cent by 2017 and 100 per cent by 2020. Several measures are being taken to improve telecommunication services, Prasad said, adding "2,199 mobile towers are being set up in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states with a total estimated cost of Rs 3,567.58 crore." He said 1,134 mobile towers are radiating as on November 30, 2015.