16 Dec 2013

Telecom Services in Villages

 Service Providers, who are implementing Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) funded schemes, have reported following difficulties in providing services in rural & remote areas:

(i)                  Low population density and difficult location conditions makes service provision financial unviable.

(ii)  CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX (Operational Expenditure)    for development of telecom infrastructure in these areas is very high.

(iii)       Lack of adequate backhaul connectivity.

(iv)      Difficulties in getting Right of Way (RoW) permissions from State Governments    and Local Bodies.

(v)        Lack of proper supporting infrastructure (road, electricity supply etc.).
Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said that USOF has been established w.e.f. 01.04.2002 with the objective of providing access to telecom services to people in the rural and remote areas through viability gap funding. 

The resources for implementation of USO are raised through USOF a Universal Service Levy (USL), which is 5% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of all Telecom Service Providers except the pure value added service providers like Internet, Voice Mail, E-Mail service providers etc. 

Administration of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) is governed by Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951 as amended from time to time. 

Different USOF schemes are planned and implemented in unviable rural & remote areas by providing financial/ subsidy support from USOF. Details of USOF Schemes are given below:

(i)                  Creation of General Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) Infrastructure

(a)        National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to connect all Gram Panchayats through Optical Fibre Cable.

(b)        Optical Fibre Network Augmentation, Creation and Management of Intra-District Sub-Divisional Headquarter-District Headquarter (SDHQ-DHQ) OFC Network in North Eastern Region

(ii)    Rural Broadband Scheme for expanding provision of Wireline Broadband Connectivity upto village level

(iii)        Shared Mobile Infrastructure Scheme

(iv)       Public Access: Village Public Telephones in all villages

(v)        Scheme for Mobile Communication Services in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected Areas.

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