Karnataka ranks lowest in rural teledensity across South India

The number of telephones per 100 people in state lowest in South India, fourth lowest in India.

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Rural teledensity rates in South India
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Rural teledensity is vital for the trickling down of economic growth benefits
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Karnataka's growth in rural teledensity in the lowest in South India
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Experts claim that lower investments in rural telecom sectors in the reason for poor growth in rural teledensity


Bangalore, October 17, 2017: Karnataka recorded the lowest rural teledensity in South India.
In June 2017, Karnataka recorded 58.77 per cent rural teledensity against Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana)’s 60.96 per cent, Kerala’s 70.57 per cent and Tamil Nadu’s 95.86 per cent.

Mr. Shreenivas S Galgali, Advisor, Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) Regional Office (RO), Bangalore said, “As TRAI, we only collect the information and give statistics. I do not have straight answers as to why is it (rural teledensity) less.”

Low rural teledensity is not the only problem. The gap between urban and rural teledensity is huge. In June 2017, urban teledensity in Karnataka stood at 199.25 per cent while rural teledensity was 58.77 per cent. Nationally, Karnataka has the fourth lowest rural teledensity, as of June 2017, just behind Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

An industry research study by Care Ratings states that, “The prime reason for low rural teledensity is lack of telecom infrastructure in the rural areas. The telecom companies find it financially viable to add capacity in existing areas (mostly urban areas) rather than setting up capacity in new areas. Also, the telecom companies get lower returns from the rural areas compared with the urban areas.”

Karnataka also registered the slowest growth in rural teledensity among the southern states. In June 2016, Karnataka’s rural teledensity was 53.36 per cent and in June 2017, it was 58.77 per cent that is the state registered only a 5.41 per cent growth. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana registered a 9.92 per cent growth, Tamil Nadu and Kerala grew by 10.64 per cent and 8.07 per cent respectively.

Mr. Shreenivas adds, “Teledensity makes a difference. Lesser the teledensity, lesser will be the economic activity. Because now every economic activity is through telecommunication facility only. That is why government is also trying to increase digital transactions. There is one thing, without connectivity you cannot do digital transactions.”

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