10 Feb : Backed by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) of the Department of Telecommunications, Government owned Telecom company BSNL has started rolling out wire-line broadband connectivity to rural & remote areas. DOT has signed an agreement with BSNL to provide 8,61,459 connections to individual users and government Institutions through rural and remote exchanges over a period of 5-years, i.e., by 2014.
This USOF Scheme has an estimated subsidy flow of Rs. 1500 Crore. The subsidy disbursement is for (i) broadband connections, Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), Computer/Computing devices (ii) setting up of Kiosks for public access to broadband services. The financial assistance is to ensure broadband connections at substantially reduced rates to the end customers both in terms of connectivity cost, customer premises equipment cost and computer/computing devices.
The connectivity is being planned by leveraging the existing rural exchanges infrastructure and copper wire-line network. The objective is to make the rural and remote areas broadband enabled by facilitating the service providers in creating Broadband infrastructure. The rural broadband connectivity will cover Institutional Users, such as Common Service Centres (CSCs), being set up by Department of Information Technology, Gram Panchayats, Higher secondary schools and Public Health Centres, as well as Individual Users located in the villages.
This Rural Broadband Scheme has been undertaken on BOO model, i.e. build, operate & own basis. The speed of each of the broadband connections shall be at least 512 kbps always on, with the capability to deliver data, voice and video services in the fixed mode.
The Service Providers, with valid license from DoT are eligible to apply for the Scheme. Such Service Providers shall have outdoor copper cable network from their existing serving exchange in the rural and remote areas. USOF has already invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from the Service Providers in this regard and details are available on the Web site.