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The low internet speed in the state is a matter that is most left out of discussion in the public domain. While internet service providers are yet to have the internet up and running in all the districts and sub districts of the state, the nature of its service in the capital hub of Imphal leaves much to be desired. Often, the remoteness of location is given as a reason by private mobile or internet network services when complaints are raised that service is poor or non existent in the hill districts of the state. But a comparison with the nature and speed of internet and mobile connectivity with other hilly regions or remote parts of the country will only reveal that remoteness is not a valid reason. The not so handed out public explanation but one that can be most probable is that internet speeds and connectivity in certain parts of the country seems to be tampered with, all in the name of ‘National Security’ of course. Even within the state, it is not uncommon for mobile phone connection services to remain on ‘unreachable’ mode, in case there are high profile VIPs in town, come visiting from the Center. Even as the mobile and internet connections remain poor in the other districts of the state, the majority of subscribers and use of mobile phone technology and connections are centered in Imphal. It is the small area of Imphal center that is jam-packed with subscribers in the midst of certain areas that are jammed to ensure mobile unreachable mode. The Raj Bhavan to M-Sector stretch is almost a ‘no network’ zone when there is to be VIP activity. When it comes to the matter of the security of a few select elite over the discomfort of thousands of the common man, the ‘security’ always comes first. No second doubts over that.
For a layman, a mobile phone has become a basic necessity for easy and instant communication while on the move. There was a time when entire neighbourhoods could function with just one land-line phone connection in one single house. But that phase, that time is over now. With families becoming smaller and more mobile literally and with instant communication being the only way of getting by with life, the mobile phone is what keeps people and enterprises connected. That mobile phones are also being blamed for a lot of anti social crimes is another aspect that is not directly related to the nature of connectivity. And just as there is an increase in the number of subscribers and a major dependency on mobile phone connections, the internet today has become integral for Government Departments, officials, private companies, students and others. From social networking updates to medical transcriptions, the internet today is the cornerstone for online communications and transactions.
More than ever, there is a breed of people who prefer to do online bank transactions while many young entrepreneurs have brought online based business establishments to the state in the form if call centers. A bad internet connection can spell major trouble for such fledging ventures which are aimed at providing job opportunities without having employees to relocate outside the state. Mostly, the lack of consumers fighting back or demanding explanations led to the poor state of mobile phone and internet connectivity in the state. Verbal complaints are almost answered back with ‘no electricity’ ‘bad signals’ and it is rare for customers and subscribers to look into redressal through written complaints. Recently, all that a private telecom provider came up with was a public notice saying that its license was getting over for the state. This information should have been given when customers opted for the company’s services but the bit about its short term license was kept under wraps and when it packed up and went off, the customers were left holding on to mechanical extensions that no longer work or function. Imagine a major communication related service provider doing something like this in a place outside of the region: there would be no end to court cases and litigations. So long as subscribers do not resort to going public with their woes over connectivity, service providers will only continue to make merry knowing that most of us would only self complain and leave it at that.