Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) For North Eastern Region (NER) approved
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III –Infrastructure
- The Union Cabinet has approved for provision of a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) Scheme.
- Under the scheme, Mobile Coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two Districts of Assam (Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao) shall be provided under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) for North Eastern Region (NER).
- The project envisages to provide mobile coverage to around 2 thousands of uncovered villages at an estimated cost of about Rs.2,029 crore including operational expenses for five years.
- The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund.
- The project is targeted to be completed by December, 2022.
- The work related to provision of 4G mobile services in identified uncovered villages will be awarded through open competitive bidding process as per extant USOF procedures.
Important value addition
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.
- India’s New Telecom Policy – 1999 (NTP’99) provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy (UAL)’, which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses.
- The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002.
- 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.
- As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006 and 2008), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.