Universal Service Obligation Fund:
Telecom service providers have urged the Ministry of Finance to suspend the universal service obligation fund (USOF) levy until the existing corpus is exhausted.
- USOF was set up by an Act of Parliament in December 2003 by amending the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
- The objective of the USOF is to provide access to telecom services in a non-discriminatory manner to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices, thereby bridging the rural-urban digital divide.
- For commercially non-viable rural and remote areas, USOF provides subsidy support in the form of Net Cost or Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to incentivize telecom service providers for the expansion of telecommunications and broadband services in those areas.
- USOF is headed by the Administrator, USO Fund who is appointed by the Central Government, for the administration of the fund.
- It is an attached office of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications.