Dr B. Sundar, Special Secretary, Department of ITEC, Government of Andhra Pradesh

The Government of India is  encouraging a transition towards 5G networks. “5G” is defined as any system that uses 5G new radio (NR) technology. These are cellular networks with service areas divided into geographical units called “cells”. To enable the transition to 5G, states must possess the necessary infrastructure,  which includes  the massive use of optical fibre cables (OFC) and fiberisation of tower sites.

Optical fibre usage in Andhra Pradesh

The target set by Andhra Pradesh for BharatNet this year is to provide internet access to 5 million rural households across 11,200 plus villages, covering 55,000 km with OFC with 11,000 points of presence ensuring last-mile connectivity. The strategy followed is to provide connectivity to public utilities in the rural setting followed by connectivity to individual semi-public utilities. Thus, at the first level, enterprise connections connect the main offices such as the zilla parishad, gram panchayat offi­ces, grama or the village secretariats and RythuBharosaKendras (RBK). RBKs are one-stop shops for farmers, where they can digitally avail of information about the weather, fertiliser input and credit availability. RBKs are wired with good internet connectivity, to facilitate payment gateways.

At the next level are the state-connected schools, anganwadike­ndras, and primary health cent­res. This pattern can be found ev­en in Integrated Tribal Deve­lo­p­ment Ag­ency areas in the north-eastern parts of our state such as Paderu, Rampacho­dava­ram, See­tham­peta and Parvathipuram.

Andhra Pradesh uses  the mo­st advan­ced model for OFC con­nectivity. Th­is ma­de it possible for the state to  offer triple play services (telephone, internet and tele­vi­sion) at a price of Rs 204 per month (about $2.70 per month). For offering television entertainment services, the state has  tied up with close to 15,000 service operators down to the village level to offer entertainment at a very low cost.

Applications riding on OFC

The Andhra Pradesh Software Defined Wide Area Network (APSDWAN) offers connectivity to government offices at the state headquarters, district headquarters and mandal headquarters. Some of the ap­plications that run on the APSDWAN are video conferencing, e-office, Gram Sachi­walya and Ward Sachiwalaya, virtual classrooms, and Spandana, which is a public grievance redressal platform that directly connects citizens to the chief minister’s offi­ce  through a hierarchical network of gov­ernment officials.

The state data centre operates under the SDWAN protocol connecting the sta­te headquarters and the mandal headquarters through the district headquarters. At the district headquarters, the state is providing an average internet speed of 100 Mbps and 20 Mbps at the mandal headquarters. This is a significant  achieveme­nt, considering the connectivity status, income levels and the potential to attract investments in the  rural hinterland.


The national average for “fiberisation of towers” is about 34 per cent, and the state has about 42 per cent towers fiberised. This renders that the state is comprehensively al­i­gned with the National Digital Commu­ni­cations Policy’s “Fibre First” initiative. Ce­rtain issues emananting from local politics, and government procedural issues exis­ted, but the state has been ironing them out.

Calamities do create  problems with fi­-bre connectivity. Recently, the state was ravaged by rains, and  as a result, four districts in the north-eastern parts of the state were marooned by water, and life in over 600 villages was disrupted due to water seepage and damage to telecommunication towers. As many as 18 telecommunication towers were damaged, but we were able to resurrect services within eight working days.


The state is well aware of the potential concerns with 5G, relating to cybersecurity threats, especially from Chinese vendors, and the technology itself which is immature and insufficiently tested. The 5G spectrum, situated at the band centred around 26 Gigahertz also interferes with the weather and earth observation satellites, and reports suggest impaired weather prediction performances. Several countries including the US have warned that radar altimeters of aircraft, which operate in the 4.2 to 4.4 Gigahertz range, would be affected by 5G operations. The over hype on 5G does not sit easy with public policymaking in the 5G domain. Nevertheless, the state is poised to take advantage of 5G technology as and when the concerns are addressed.