New Delhi: Government said on 24 April it has plans to set up a committee to look into amending the Telegraph Act to ensure that telecom operators take their services to rural areas.
Communication and IT Minister A Raja said that although it is not mandatory for private players to operate in rural areas, Government is offering subsidies from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund to encourage service providers to set up networks in rural areas.
Replying to questions in Rajya Sabha, Raja said he had proposed to set up the committee to explore ways to increase telephone density in rural areas. “If any rules have to be amended, it will be done,” he added.
As of now, he said, there is no mandatory provision or TRAI recommendations to force operators to set up networks in rural areas. He, however, said the government can send a reference to TRAI in this regard.
To a separate question, he said the government has collected Rs 20,000 crore under USO fund as on 1 April, 2008 out of which Rs6,500 cr has been spent so far.
Raja said the remaining money will be utilised to erect 18,000 towers in the next two years to boost rural telephony.
To a question on Access Deficit Charges, he said the losses suffered by BSNL will be compensated through other routes, including the USO way.
He said the Telecom Ministry has received complaints of foreign telecom companies’ signals being transmitted into Indian territory on the border areas and has brought it to the notice of Home Ministry.