As of now, access to 4G internet is limited to people of two districts—Ganderbal in Kashmir Valley and Udhampur in Jammu division.
As the ‘G’ word in the terminology means ‘generation’, the people in other parts of the globe are looking forward to 5G internet connectivity. In technological parlance, most people in J&K are relegated to 2G or are still at second generation. About 2G and 4G speed, famous jurist Markandey Katju once famously said that it was akin to comparing a bullock cart to a bullet train.
After more than a year, the centre started on the trial basis the 4G internet in the two districts from mid-August after “taking into consideration the option to tryout of opening up high-speed internet despite the current security situation as reflected in the inputs of the security agencies”.
The decision followed recommendations by a Special Committee, constituted for the purpose, that the present situation “could permit “ a carefully calibrated easing of some restrictions in limited and specified geographical areas which are comparatively less sensitive from “national security, internal security, border security and public order standpoint, subject to strict monitoring and periodical review.”
The restoration of the 4G internet in two districts followed the former Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu’s interview to a national daily that the J&K government was not averse to the restoration of the high-speed internet as “Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there”.
Finally, the special committee allowed the trial in the areas having the low intensity of militant activities and minimal spillover effects on neighbouring areas. It said the impact of the trial should be assessed by the State Level Committee periodically but at least once in seven working days. Notably, it was said the Committee will review the outcome of the trial after a period of two months or before that if so required.
“Before that” option should be tried and access to high speed internet should be allowed in more districts. Rather, it should be limited to very limited areas or nowhere at all.
The Government’s justification notwithstanding, the prolonged internet gag has already wrecked the local Kashmir economy including IT companies and start-ups. The students continue to have hard times studying online as the low-speed 2G speed remains insufficient enough to access video lessons. It is time for a change now.