The Government of India will soon invite tenders from telecom service providers to set up rural networks for which subsidy would be provided from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund. Around INR 99 billion fund is lying with the centre.
While answering at the Lok Sabha session, A. Raja, Communications and IT Minister of India stated that the government is planning to install 8,000 towers in rural areas, for which subsidy will be given from this fund. He stated that around 35 percent of the geographic area is without mobile telecom services. These all are efforts to enhance the tele-density in the rural areas and for this the USO Fund has been created to lure the operators to go to these areas. Besides installing 8,000 towers in rural areas in the current financial year, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has also proposed to establish another 11,000 towers in the next fiscal. The USO Fund is used to provide fixed telecom services in rural areas, which is now enlarged to include mobile as well as broadband services. Raja also stated that the entry of new telecom players in the mobile services would also lead to greater penetration of services in the rural areas.