Despite infrastructure being available, only one company has come forward so far to provide service

It has been more than a year since Namma Metro’s entire underground section of the Purple Line was thrown open to the public. However, so far, most commuters are still to get mobile and data connectivity in the underground section of the line.

Despite infrastructure being readily available, only one telecom company has come forward to provide services to date.

After the completion of Phase I in June this year, stations on the Green Line are also waiting for companies to approach the American Tower Corporation, the company that bagged the tender for providing voice and data services and install their towers so that customers can start using their mobile phones underground. According to BMRCL officials, thousands of talk time minutes are lost every day with around 3.25 lakh people travelling by metro entering and exiting the underground stations. This includes the Kempegowda interchange station, one of the country’s biggest metro stations which is yet to be connected to mobile networks besides Reliance Jio.

Sources in the BMRCL said talks with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) to provide services had also not progressed. The main reason is believed to be the rates and fees quoted by ATC, with which the operators would have to sign a contract to install their infrastructure.

“The infrastructure is ready and waiting, but companies are not willing to come forward. In such a case, there is not much that the BMRCL can do as ATC and the companies have to resolve the issue,” a BMRCL official said.

In the meantime, passengers are getting increasingly frustrated about being left without mobile connectivity. In the past few months, the daily average ridership has seen a steady rise and is around 3 lakh, with highs of up to 3.6 lakh riders having been reached. “Mobile phone usage is something that is taken for granted while travelling around the city. It is surprising that even after so long we are unable to use mobile phones in metro underground sections,” said Koushik Bannerjee, an Indiranagar resident.  – The Hindu