The Prime Minister's Office has asked the Department of Telecom to consider a proposal to give subsidy directly to mobile users in rural areas from the Universal Services Obligation fund.

Under the existing system, DoT gives subsidy to the operators for rolling out infrastructure in rural areas.

According to the proposal mooted by the Planning Commission, mobile users in rural areas would get a subsidy of 20 per cent on bills of less than Rs 300 a month.

In addition, a one-time subsidy of Rs 250 could also be given at the time of new connections in rural areas.

“Mobile telephony has expanded phenomenally but penetration in rural areas is only 30 per cent and this should be expanded in line with Bharat Nirman objectives.

“At present, all consumers pay over 30 per cent of their monthly bills to the Government in the form of taxes and revenue share including a USO charge of 5 per cent.

“The USO fund could be used for providing direct subsidy to the aam aadmi,” the proposal from the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission stated.

The PMO has asked DoT to give its comments on the proposal within a week.

(This article was published on January 12, 2012)
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