It was the summer of 2012. I had planned to visit home before my final semester at NIT, Silchar. It was going to be a daunting journey on foot from Diafam to Shingkhar Lauri since even farm roads had not been paved back then. With the monsoons having hit the region, the rivers were swollen and the temporary bridges constructed during winters were washed away. Landslides were a common sight throughout the journey.
After two days on foot, I reached home just in time for the inauguration of Bhutan Telecom’s first network tower in the village without electricity or road connectivity. The next few days went by in the same excitement. One morning, Sonam came over to my house in desperation after walking for about 7 hours. He was aware that I had recently purchased a Nokia smartphone and he needed my help. He informed me that he had received a call from the Scholarship Division in Thimphu; one of his documents required for the scholarship application was missing. His scholarship was to be revoked upon failure of submission of the document.
Getting to Diafam under the weather condition then was out of the question. So, we were tasked to send the one-page document to his brother in Thimphu who would then pass it along to the said authority. We left no stone unturned in trying to fulfil the task at hand; climbing the hilltop and the roofs of tiny houses were all attempted, but in vain. Sonam broke down knowing his big dream of becoming a doctor was slipping away. We decided to give it one final shot. We were holding unto the branches of a tall oak tree adjacent to the BT tower when my Nokia phone showed the 2G network bar. We finally succeeded. Sonam couldn’t believe that his document had gone through and he sighed in relief, “Thank you Bhutan Telecom for erecting a tower in a location where even road and electricity hasn’t made way.” He was in tears.
Two months had passed since the incident when I heard from him. Sonam was selected for the scholarship and he eventually went on to become one of the finest doctors in Bhutan. I call him 2G Doctor!
Bhutan Telecom launched its first mobile communications service in the country in 2003. Nokia handsets had taken over the market back then, followed by brands like Benq, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, etc. Everyone was excited. To carry a Nokia phone was a thing of pride. Everyone was rushing to the stores that sold mobile phones. I, unfortunately, couldn’t afford one.
It was not until the end of 2003 that I finally purchased my first mobile phone; it was a black and white Nokia handset. Filled with pride, I walked out of the BT counter with the BT sim card in my Nokia handset. I no longer had to walk to the telephone booth to speak with my loved ones. I even went on to show this great milestone in my life to the people in my circle. That was the extent of the significance Bhutan Telecom filled me with, and how delighted I felt!
I particularly have one story with Bhutan Telecom which will forever remain imprinted in my heart. I remained a bachelor till the beginning of 2011. I was in Haa back then. My brother was in Chhukha. He insisted that I get married soon. He knew a girl in his neighbourhood whom he thought could be potential match for me. She lived with her elder brother. I requested my brother to get me her mobile number. She too was using a BT sim card. I called her. She called me. We spoke about everything and nothing. I went to Chhukha to meet her after a few weeks. We liked each other and we dated for a few months. Bhutan Telecom helped us keep our hearts connected though we were physically apart. We finally got married in April, 2011. We have been happily married for the last nine years with two beautiful daughters. This is my story with Bhutan Telecom.
Being a student, internet is an absolute necessity for me today since all my classes take place online. I am a third-year student currently pursuing B.S. Public Health in Chittagong, Bangladesh. I had to return home when the situation turned bad in Bangladesh. I was very glad when Bhutan Telecom launched Student Data Plans to support students with affordable access to online learning. However, there were limitations to the timings for using the Student Plans. As my classes for the summer semester were to start on 17th May, I recharged my phone on the same day with a regular data package as well. To my surprise, BT was offering a 50% bonus on the occasion of BT Day. Coming up with such special plans and bonus offers, I would like to thank Bhutan Telecom for always being there.
It was November 2016. I was working with a private company and was placed around ten kilometres away from Nganglam town. The site was surrounded by hills, and the only things I could see outside my window were trees standing tall. I could hear the cries of animals and most waspishly the sound of river below. To give me company was BT’s network connectivity. I spoke with my parents on a regular basis. I kept in touch with my friends and family. I could solve work-related problems online and communicate the progress at the site to my colleagues in Thimphu.
Time went by and the summer soon made its way. I was going through a state of emotional instability on the personal front. I felt like even the continuous summer rain couldn’t wash away the sorrowful love story in my heart. I began scribbling my feelings and emotions in the form of poetry. It was then that I truly understood the value of the internet; I was supported by friends who helped me get through the difficult times, albeit virtually. I kept my mind distracted by reading articles online or watching videos on the internet. I even took a few online tutorials and courses on basics of carpentry. All of these were possible because of the services provided by Bhutan Telecom.
It was back in early 2003 where Gyelposhing, Monger first launched its BT network. Everyone in the region was equally excited. Unfortunately, only the richest ones could afford to own a mobile phone back then. The poor had to borrow from neighbours or friends. To own a black and white Nokia phone with a BT sim card became the common man’s only dream. It was a thing of pride to be able to subscribe to the services of Bhutan Telecom. It was in this way that BT made it possible for us to dream, to aspire.
Meanwhile, the mobile market in Gyelposhing area was very small with a limited number of BT towers. It was a challenge to find a strong network connection anywhere in the area. Nonetheless, it helped us create fond memories that I cherish even today. I remember the bygone days when I used to climb mangoes trees not to pluck the fruits growing on them but to catch BT’s network signal. Years have passed since then, but even today I continue to rely on B-Mobile network.
As I grew up, so did Bhutan Telecom, moving from 2G to 3G, and eventually to LTE today. I hope to grow healthier and older with the same mobile number I was allotted, and hopefully pass the same number down to my grandchildren.