DoT working out plan to improve rural coverage

In a bid to encourage cellular operators to expand their coverage in rural areas, the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) is working on a scheme, which may allow operators to contribute only 2 per cent of their annual revenues to the Universal Services Obligation fund.

As per DoT scheme, operators who cover below 50 per cent of the district will continue to pay 5 per cent of their revenues. Those who complete 70 per cent will get 1 per cent rebate, while those who cover 90 per cent of the district blocks will have to pay 3 per cent of their revenues to the USO fund. As per the licence condition, mobile operators are required to provide network coverage in each block of a district in a circle. The obligation also stipulates that the coverage should be available within buildings. Recently DoT had issued show cause notice to seven operators with a suggested penalty of about INR 450 crore for not fulfilling the roll-out conditions.