Posted by telcobizpedia on May 29, 2009
29 May 2009, 0050 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: The communications ministry has drawn up detailed plans to spend part of the Rs 25,000 crore in the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
The plans include setting up over 5,500 telecom towers in far flung areas, providing wireline broadband connectivity to all rural kiosks, rolling out WiMAX services in rural India, augmenting the optic fibre cable connectivity of the country and funding technology innovations.
From 2002, all telecom operators have been paying 5% of their annual revenues towards this fund, and so far, the unutilised amount in the USOF has crossed the Rs 25,000 crore.
Every consumer, who makes a phone call (mobile and landline) contributes towards the USOF. It has been a long pending demand of the industry to reduce or do away with the levy especially since studies by sector regulator Trai has shown that it would not cost more than Rs 12,000 crore to connect the whole of rural India.
The department of telecom (DoT) will soon invite bids from companies who run long distance networks where the government will fund up to 40% of the optic fibre expansion plans of successful bidders.
All telcos have long distance arms that carry STD traffic on optic fibre. An STD call on the mobile is first carried to the nearest telecoms tower and transferred along the optic fibre to the tower that is closest to the person who receives the call. But, telcos who receive support from the USOF for setting up towers and laying fibre must compulsorily share their infrastructure with other operators.
The DoT has also decided to fund the commercial rollout of products linked to improving quality of services or making telecom operations more economical. It has shortlised about 10 companies who have been asked to demonstrate their products on a pilot basis in rural India, following which it will fund the commercial rollout of successful pilots.
These companies include Telsima Communication for WiMAX services, Artheon Electronics, STM Softech, Radio Innovation Sweden, Vanu, Tulip IT services, Param Hasna System and software, Vedekon from Ukraine and Measurement & Controls India Ltd. Radio Innovation Sweden has been shortlised for its solutions that enable super economical coverage of GSM, Vanu for its multi-operator shared telecom towers concept, Vedekon for its WiMAX solutions.
The communications ministry is of the view that these new avenues to disburse this fund will help increase the country’s tele-density, especially in rural India. While the overall tele-density of the country is just under 40%, rural tele-density is still under the 10% mark.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Artheon, Broadband, DoT, Government, Measurement And Controls India Ltd, Param Hasna, Radio Innovation, rural, STM Softech, teledensity, Telsima, TRAI, Tulip IT, USOF, Vanu, Vedekon, WiMAX, Wireless | Leave a Comment »