As per industry sources, DoT is setting up a committee to suggest guidelines for sanction of research and development (R&D) funds, to the tune of Rs 4.5-5 billion, which will be allocated from the portion of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) annual collections following the recent Budget announcement.

The constituted committee will be expected to give its views in the next 30-35 days. With this, nearly Rs 4.5 – 5 billion will flow towards R&D to enable affordable broadband and mobile service proliferation in rural and remote areas.

Meanwhile, the next set of reforms is likely to be announced in 3-4 months. The new set of reforms will look to improve ease of doing business, reduce compliance burden, and lower the cost of doing business for a whole host of players operating in the sector.

The resources for the implementation of USO are raised by way of collecting universal service levy which is a percentage of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of telecom companies.

This initiative along with the Budget announcement on the launch of a scheme for design-led manufacturing to build a strong 5G ecosystem as part of the production linked incentive (PLI), is expected to strengthen India’s tech proposition. Detailing the PLI scheme, Rajaraman informed that the Rs 120 billion telecom PLI scheme will be modified to accommodate the design-led component in addition to the existing manufacturing support being offered. He further informed that working out the revised guidelines will take 40-45 days.