West Bengal USO

The 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. 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 and 2008), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.

As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003 and 2006) Universal Service Obligation is defined as access to telegraph service to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.

The USOF has launched its schemes in Streams to provide telecom services to the rural population. It is done through telecom operators by the way of cost sharing and support schemes. The USOF has launched six streams so far.
The important activities under each stream are outlined as follows:    

Stream I: Provision of Public Telecom and Information Service
 
(a)   Operation and Maintenance of VPTs in villages identified as per census 1991 and installation of additional VPTs in Revenue villages as per census 2001.

(b)    Provision of additional RCPs in villages with population > 2000 after achieving the target of one VPT in every village.

(c)    Replacement of MARR based VPTs installed before 1.4.2002.

(d)    Up-gradation of a public telephone to Public Telecom and Information Center (PTIC) in villages with more than 2000 population for provisioning data application FAX, E-mail, Internet besides voice telephony.

(e)    Installation of High Speed PTICs (HPTICs) for providing facilities including tele-education and tele-medicine at block head quarters and villages with more than 2000 population.

Stream II: Provision of Household Telephones in rural and remote areas

(a)    For household DELs installed prior to 1.4.2002, the difference in rental actually charged from rural subscribers and rent prescribed by TRAI for such subscribers shall ne reimbursed until such time the access deficit charge prescribed by TRAI from time to time taking into account such difference.

(b)    For household DELs installed after 1.4.2002, capital recovery, operational expenses and revenue shall be taken into account to determine the net cost.

(c)    For determining the net cost of providing RDELs after 1.4.2002 the short distance charging area (SDCA) is taken as a unit.

Stream-III: Creation of infrastructure for provision of Mobile Services in rural and remote areas:

(a)    The assets constituting the infrastructure for provision of mobile services shall be determined by the Central Government from time-to-time.

(b)    A percentage of the Capital Recovery for the infrastructure for provision of mobile services shall be taken into account to determine the Net Cost.

Placing of Proposed Tower Locations in Rural Areas under Second Phase of Shared Mobile Infrastructure Scheme

Stream-IV: Provision of Broadband connectivity to villages in a phased manner
 
A percentage of the Capital Recovery for the infrastructure for broadband connectivity shall be taken into account to determine the Net Cost.

Stream-V: Creation of general infrastructure in rural and remote areas for development of
telecom facilities


(a)  The items of general infrastructure to be taken up for development shall be determined by the Central Government from time to time.

(b)  A percentage of the Capital Recovery for the development of general infrastructure shall be taken into account to determine the Net Cost.

Note - Unless otherwise specified by the Central Government, the revenue district/ group of revenue districts shall be taken as a unit for the purpose of arriving at the Net Cost for the activities specified in Streams III, IV & V.

Stream-VI: Induction of new technological developments in the telecom sector in rural and remote areas

Pilot projects to establish new technological developments in the telecom sector, which can be deployed in the rural and remote area, may be supported with the approval of the Central Government.