All villages will be provided with broadband connectivity by 2012. The Central government's Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund will provide broadband connectivity to around 50,000 villages in a phased manner.
“Out of about 2.5 lakh gram (village) panchayats across the country, 30,000 have been provided with broadband connectivity,” said Gurudas Kamat, Minister of State for Communications and IT in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. “It has been planned to provide broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats in a progressive manner by the end of 2012.”
Since 2002, the telecom operators have been paying 5% of their annual revenues to the USO fund, and so far the unutilized amount in this fund has crossed INR 25,000 crore. The scheme was first announced by President Pratibha Patil at a joint sitting of the two houses of the new parliament this year.
An agreement has already been signed between USOF and BSNL for subsidy disbursement for providing 90,000 wireline broadband connections including customer premises equipment and computer or computing devices in rural and remote areas. According to Kamat, out of the 21,389 villages in Andhra Pradesh, 6,871 are already broadband-enabled.