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USOF scheme for providing mobile coverage in Arunachal, Assam districts

Published: 18th Apr, 2022


In December 2020, the Union Cabinet had approved Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) Scheme for providing mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two hill districts of Assam, including Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP), which is expected to be completed by December 2022.


Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF):

  • USOF ensures that there is universal non-discriminatory access to quality ICT(Information and Communications Technology) services at economically efficient prices to people in rural and remote areas.
  • It was created under the Ministry of Communications in 2002.
  • It is a non-lapsable fund, i.e., the unspent amount under a targeted financial year does not lapse and is accrued for next years’ spending.
  • All credits to this fund require parliamentary approval and it has statutory support under Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
  • Objective
  • Economic: Network extension & stimulate uptake of the ICT services
  • Social: Mainstreaming the underserved & un-served areas/groups by bridging the Access Gap
  • Political: to enable citizens exercise their political rights in an informed way and
  • Constitutional: Equitable distribution of the fruits of the telecom/digital revolution and fair allocation of national resource (pooled USO levy) via targeted subsidies
  • Beneficiaries: People in rural and remote areas of the country where ICT services are not available due to commercial non-viability on account of various combinations of reasons such as:
    • Sparse population
    • Remoteness of areas
    • Absence of supporting infrastructure (power, road etc.)
    • Low income of inhabitants
    • Insurgency
    • Difficult terrain

About the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan:

  • It envisages providing mobile coverage to 2374 uncovered villages (1683 in Arunachal Pradesh and 691 in two districts of Assam.
  • The two districts of Assam are KarbiAnglong and Dima Hasao.
  • It will be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund and 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.
  • Significance:
    • It will enhance digital connectivity in the remote and difficult uncovered areas of Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam.
    • It will prove beneficial for facilitating learning, dissemination of information and knowledge, skill upgradation and development, disaster management, e-governance initiatives, establishment of enterprises and e-commerce facilities etc in the region.
    • It will play a vital role in adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing and availability of job opportunities and fulfilling the vision of Digital India.
    • It will also promote domestic manufacturing and fulfill the objectives of AtmaNirbhar Bharat.

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