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Cabinet nod for mobile services in 7,287 villages:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- roadways.

 

Context:

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for provisioning of mobile services in uncovered villages of Aspirational Districts across five States.

  • The project envisages to provide 4G mobile services in the 7,287 uncovered villages of 44 Aspirational Districts in the five States at an estimated cost of ₹6,466 crore, including operational expenses for five years.

 

Implementation:

The project will be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and is targeted to be completed within 18 months after the signing of the agreement.

 

What is USOF?

Universal Service Obligation Fund was established in 2002, with the main aim to provide universal telecom services and ensure that even the unconnected areas in the country reap the benefits of inclusive development.

  • The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 gave statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
  • The USOF is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

 

Funding:

The funds for the USOF comes from Universal Service Levy (USL). The USL is charged from all the telecom operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). These are then deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India, and prior parliamentary approval is required for dispatching.

 

USOFs contributions to Inclusive development of the country:

  1. The USOF enables rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network, access to which is within their reach and within their means.
  2. It helps provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality ICT services at affordable prices to people in rural and remote areas.
  3. It also provides an effective and powerful linkage to the hinterland thereby mainstreaming the population of rural and remote parts of the country.
  4. Provision of reliable, robust, and high-speed telecom and broadband facilities will be imperative from the viewpoint of consumers, as well as for strategic and governance reasons.
  5. 4G mobile services, which were constrained due to limited backhaul bandwidth provided via satellite will also see a major improvement.
  6. Creation of Infrastructure for mobile services in remote, rural areas.
  7. Provision of broadband in villages in a phased manner.
  8. Induction of new technologies like national optic fibre network in rural areas.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard about `Internet Saathi’ programme? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About USOF.
  2. About BharatNet Project.
  3. What is optical fibre?
  4. What is AGR?
  5. About Aspirational Districts Programme.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of USOF.

Sources: the Hindu.