Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bhutan’s Remotest Telecommunications Installation

I just returned from a grueling 26 days trek to the frigid regions of Lunana. Besides being stranded on the road due to roadblock caused by a mudslide; I got rained in for days and I got marooned due to snow over the dreaded Gunglakarchung Pass (5,182 Mtrs). But this was a journey of discovery and fulfillment, of breathtaking beauty and desolation - of plunging abysses and swirling clouds, of star spangled skies and howling winds that scream all night long.

Over the next days and weeks and months, I will post some photos to show just how beautiful Lunana is. But for now, there is a social service I must perform - for the benefit of the residents of Lunana.

The photo below shows Bhutan Telecom’s mobile tower installation at Tsojo village that is about two hours before Thanza (4,100 Mtrs) - the remostest and the last village in Lunana Gewog. This has got to be the country’s remotest telecommunications facility (Thanza is 9 days away from the nearest motorable road in Gasa). The array of photovoltaic modules look impressive with the towering Table Mountain (7,100 Mtrs) in the background (Please NOTE: this mountain has been renamed Gungchen Singye by Her Majesty Queen Mother Azhi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck in honor of His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck).

The facility may look impressive but a resident school teacher laments that this vital communications installation has been treated like a unwanted, forgotten child by the parent: B-Mobile. Since its installation, the teacher says that no service engineer has ever visited the facility to do maintenance work. As a result, the network keeps dropping - every 5-10 minutes. Connectivity is erratic - but it still works. After being incommunicado for nine days, being able to make a phone call is a celebration of sorts.

The same school teacher says that in the beginning he could even connect to the Internet using his Data Card but not any more. He hopes that the service provider will do something to restore the mobile service to its former glory.

B-Mobile ….. are you listening? - you have less than one month to attend to the problem - if you do intend to .... thereafter the high passes to Lunana - such as Tsome-La, Gunglakarchung and Kechey-La - will be closed for the next four months due to snow and ice.

1 comment:

  1. You have come through an amazing test of will and endurance...and I hope we get a peek of your photographs in the next few days and not weeks and months. And please, just make sure the B-Mobile's antennaes are up....