The Union Cabinet has approved the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) scheme for provisioning of mobile services in uncovered villages across five states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha.

Under this project, 4G based mobile services will be provided in 7,287 uncovered villages of 44 districts across the five states.

The estimated cost of implementation is around Rs 64.66 billion including operational expenses for 5 years and the project is expected to be completed within 18 months.

The work related to the provisioning of 4G mobile services in identified uncovered villages will be awarded through an open competitive bidding process as per extant USOF procedures.

The project aims at enhancing digital connectivity, dissemination of information and knowledge, skill upgradation and development, disaster management, e-governance initiatives. Also, It seeks to facilitate learning, establish enterprise and e-commerce facilities, and provide adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing.

Commenting on the development, Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar, DG, COAI, said, “COAI, the leading representative body for the Indian telecommunications industry, welcomes the announcement of Rs 6466 crore package passed by the Central Government. It is aimed to bring 7,287 uncovered villages of 44 aspirational districts across five states under 4G based mobile services. It will help bridge the digital divide and bring remote villages under the digital map of India by enhancing seamless coverage thereby providing a stimulus to the rural economy. This step is in line with the objectives of the National Broadband Mission of achieving universal and equitable broadband services across the country.”