Rs18k crore to subsidise rural telephony: A Raja

Rs18k crore to subsidise rural telephony: A Raja

New Delhi: Concerned over huge rural-urban divide with regard to tele-density, the government today said lack of proper infrastructure like electricity was stopping operators from going to rural areas.

“Money is not at all a problem. The DoT is sitting on a corpus of over Rs18,000 crore for subsidising the operators to go to rural areas and set up network. Real constraints are infrastructure related especially lack of power," telecom minister A Raja said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

He said the government is deeply concerned over how to improve the connectivity in rural areas even as tele-density for rural India has improved to over 19% in the last three years.

Minister of State for telecom Sachin Pilot said state- owned BSNL will deploy 10,000 mobile towers in rural areas by March 2010 and another 15,000 by March, 2011. This will result in coverage of more areas and improve quality of services.

The government is also in the process to amend rules for providing subsidies to operators from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund to speed up roll out of network.

On the issue of increasing pollution due to mobile towers using diesel, Pilot said, “The ministry is trying to reduce carbon foot print and encouraging solar panel instead of use of diesel for mobile towers operation."