DoT to fund tech innovations with unutilised USOF money

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 27 December 2007, 12:40 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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New Delhi: Turning into an angel investor, the department of telecom (DoT) has decided to fund innovations in communication technologies with over $ 2.5 billion remaining unutilised in the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). So, entrepreneurs, small companies, universities and even NGOs who have developed communication technologies, can now expect to be funded by the government for their innovations, reported The Economic Times.

So far, the USOF has been limited to funding telcos and standalone tower companies to rollout cellular and landline infrastructure in rural India. It was only last year that the government approved the use of USOF for expanding mobile telephony networks.

All telecom companies pay 5 percent of their total revenues towards the USOF which is used to fund telecom infrastructure in rural India. As per the DoT’s own projections, the unutilised amount in the USOF crossed the $2.5 billion mark by March this year.

The DoT is, therefore, exploring new avenues to disburse this fund towards increasing India's tele-density, especially in rural India. While the overall tele-density of the country stands at about 22 percent, rural tele-density, which was less than 2 percent in 2004, is still under the 10 percent mark.

The DoT has invited all technology developers and entrepreneurs to demonstrate their products on a pilot basis in rural India, following which it will fund the commercial rollout of successful pilots. The department has also decided that the funding can also be open to any innovation linked to improving quality of services or making telecom operations more economical.

"The type of pilot projects, which could be undertaken by the applicants may include new technological developments in the field of rural broadband, rural telephony (fixed, wireless in local loop, mobile), transmission media, general telecom infrastructure like tower, batteries or power plant, hybrid power and other solutions for meeting power requirement of rural telecom installation, customer premises equipment...," the DoT said in its communication, inviting proposals from all technology developers.

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