Mobile service infrastructure will be erected in “uncovered villages” of aspirational districts across five states through funds accumulated via the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), the Union Cabinet said on Wednesday.
Accordingly, the Central government aims to cover 7,287 “uncovered villages” of 44 aspirational districts with 4G services, with an estimated cost of about Rs 6,466 crore.
The estimated outlay also includes operational expenses for five years.
As per an official statement, these aspirational districts are located in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Odisha.
“The project will be completed within 18 months after the signing of the agreement, likely to be completed by November 23,” the statement said.
“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.”
According to the statement, this move will enhance digital connectivity, facilitate learning, dissemination of information and knowledge, skill upgradation, e-Governance initiatives, establishment of enterprises and e-commerce facilities.
The USOF funds are raised from a portion of the total revenue earned by the telecom service operators under various licenses, which is then utilised to adequately serve and provide basic telecom infrastructure in backward and rural areas.