How The Advent Of Internet Services Has Changed The Isolated Highlanders Of Bhutan
Many Layaps agreed that they find their lives much easier compared to just a decade ago.
By Dechen Dolkar | Business Bhutan
With the advent of internet connectivity, the lives of the Layaps who live in isolation in the highlands of Bhutan has changed considerably. Many agreed that they find their lives much easier compared to just a decade ago.
The B-mobile network of Bhutan Telecom was connected to Laya in 2010. However, the 3G service connection was only introduced to this remote region in October last year.
Recently, coinciding with the 4th Royal Highland Festival in 2019, TashiCell officially launched its 2G and 4G LTE services in Laya. Now Laya is connected with both telecommunication services.
Source: Youtube/Druk Asia
How internet connectivity has improved the lives of the Layaps
Member of Parliament (MP) Tenzin from Khatoed Laya constituency said that with the telecommunication services, the lives of Layaps have been made much easier now.
According to him, 15 years ago, the Layaps had to travel all the way to the Taktsimakha Army camp to make any emergency call to their relatives.
He also mentioned that just 10 years back, there was only a fixed line at the Basic Health Unit (BHU) and people had to wait in queue to make an emergency call to their relatives.
“Now with the telecommunication services available, they can connect to the other parts of the country and world any time,” said the MP, adding that any issue in the gewog (village) can be discussed through social media with the people.
The only areas that are not connected with the mobile networks are the yak herding areas in the mountains.
The MP feel that the service is now required in yak herding areas as well as the zones between Laya and Lunana.
With the TashiCell service running now, it covers up to 80% of the connectivity between the villages of Gasa and Laya such as Phunjothang, Koina and Thongchudra.
Map: Rach Online
According to Laya’s Gup, Lhakpa Tshering, there are more than 1,000 mobile users in the gewog (village).
The messengers do not have to go door to door to disseminate the messages like they used to. In fact, they can now send them through social media.
Any office orders they received are subsequently shared using social media, and this has reduced their administrative costs.
WeChat as a popular form of social media
According to Tshewang, the Mangmi of Laya, most of the Layaps use the WeChat platform to share information.
The Layaps use mobile phones with prices ranging from a minimum of Nu 1,000, up to Nu 60,000.
One of the teachers at the Laya central school, Thinley Rabgay said that with internet connectivity, the process of teaching and learning have improved tremendously.
He explained that these days, it is not enough to just teach from text books, teachers also have to browse internet for extra information.
Jigme Choden, a mother of three children from Pazhi village said that with the internet connectivity services in their gewog, they do not feel that isolated from the other parts of the world as before.
Now, they can easily keep in contact with their family and friends.
Similarly, Kinley, a mother of three from Pazhi village said they mostly use the WeChat platform to connect with their family, friends and relatives.
She added that now they know what is happening in the other parts of the world through social media. On top of that, they also get the chance to listen to the teachings of religious discourses.
This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.