Universal Service Obligation Fund was established under the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) in 2002 and given statutory recognition by Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
It was established to ensure universal non-discriminatory access to quality telecom services in whole of the country.
It is a non-capsable fund which means the unspent amount of the fund can be used in the next financial year.
The fund is stored in the consolidated fund of India and prior parliamentary approval is required to take out money from the USOF.
Importance of USOF in Inclusive development of the nation –
- USOF ensures universal access to quality telecom services in rural and remote areas.
- USOF also ensures that telecom services are provided in economically efficient manner.
- USOF is funding the Bharat Net Project, Which aims to provide highspeed broadband connectivity in all villages.
- It is also funding the recently inaugurated optical fibre cable (OFC) connectivity project to link Port Blair i.e. Andaman & Nicobar Islands to Chennai i.e. Mainland India.
- It also funds the project of wifi chaupal, which aims to provide wifi services to village areas.
USOF has been in news recently as honourable PM Modi inaugurated Submarine cable connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the program is going to be funded with USOF.
According to a release by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the submarine cable will also connect Port Blair to Swaraj Dweep (Havelock), Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Kamorta, Great Nicobar, Long Island, and Rangat.
This connectivity will enable the delivery of faster and more reliable mobile and landline telecom services to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, on par with other parts of India. Better connectivity will also facilitate the delivery of e-governance services such as telemedicine and tele-education, small enterprises will benefit from opportunities in e-commerce, while educational institutions will utilize the enhanced availability of bandwidth for e-learning and knowledge sharing.