Indian Broadband Policy and Regulatory Resources

Universal Service Obligations

In light of the inefficacies of the universal service policy and the distortion created by the universal service levy that constrains the market driven expansion of communication services, it is not surprising to find the low scores for this dimension across all sectors.

The gap between the rural and urban teledensity is also a concern. Expansion of infrastructure especially backhaul through proper design of a minimalist universal service policy promoting infrastructure expansion will address this gap. According to TRAI, to meet the rural mobile target of 11th Five year Plan (2007-12), there is a requirement of additional 40875 mobile towers (phase I, phase II of USOF and additional requirement) for facilitating the next 100 million rural subscribers. To meet the requirement of providing connectivity to these additional towers, there will be a substantial need of backhaul for both voice and the broadband. In the USOF schemes, provision of backhaul for the new towers is not clearly defined. Only recently Broadband roll out has been brought under the ambit of USO.

In the broadband segment given that the availability of relevant content in the vernacular language is a pre requisite for the growth of broadband and ICT with the rural masses, therefore apart from giving the subsidy to the infrastructure providers the content application providers should also be given incentives to develop the content based on local requirements.