The Central Government on May 23, 2018 approved Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) supported scheme to provide mobile services at 4,072 tower locations in Left Wing Extremism affected areas.
- The Home Ministry has identified inhabited uncovered areas affected by Left Wing Extremism [LWE] of 96 districts in 10 States for Phase-ll project. The total project cost would be Rs.7,330 Crore.
- The network will be used by the security personnel deployed in the naxal affected areas.
- Under the project, mobile services will also be provided to residents in unconnected inhabited villages which would improve the economic activities in the region.
- This network would be used by the security personnel deployed in LWE affected areas.
- It will give impetus to the e-Governance activities in the backward and LWE affected area with the availability of digital mobile connectivity.
About Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)
- Apart from the higher capital cost of providing telecom services in rural and remote areas, these areas also generate lower revenue due to lower population density, low income and lack of commercial activity.
- Thus normal market forces alone would not direct the telecom sector to adequately serve backward and rural areas.
- Keeping in mind the inadequacy of the market mechanism to serve rural and inaccessible areas on one hand and the importance of providing vital telecom connectivity on the other, most countries of the world have put in place policies to provide Universal Access and Universal Service to ICT.
- In India the Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002. The guidelines for universal service support policy were issued by DoT on 27th March 2002.
- The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003.
- The Rules for administration of the Fund known as Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2004 were notified on 26.03.2004. As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.