USOF Scheme For Aspirational Districts In 5 states:
The Union Cabinet has approved the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) scheme for provisioning of 4G-based mobile services in uncovered villages of aspirational districts across five states — Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Odisha.
- NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts across the country.
- It envisages to provide 4G based mobile services in the 7,287 uncovered villages of 44 Aspirational Districts across five States.
- It would be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- It will enhance digital connectivity useful for self-reliance, facilitate learning, dissemination of information and knowledge, skill upgradation and development, disaster management, e-Governance initiatives, establishment of enterprises & e-commerce facilities, etc.
- It seeks to fulfill the vision of Digital India promoting domestic manufacturing and fulfilling the objectives of Atmanirbhar Bharat etc.
Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF):
- USOF ensures that there is universal non-discriminatory access to quality ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services at economically efficient prices to people in rural and remote areas.
- It was created under the Ministry of Communications in 2002.
- It is a non-lapsable fund, i.e., the unspent amount under a targeted financial year does not lapse and is accrued for next years’ spending.
- All credits to this fund require parliamentary approval and it has statutory support under Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
- Economic: Network extension & stimulate uptake of the ICT services
- Social: Mainstreaming the underserved & un-served areas/groups by bridging the Access Gap.
- Political: to enable citizens exercise their political rights in an informed way and
- Constitutional: Equitable distribution of the fruits of the telecom/digital revolution and fair allocation of national resources (pooled USO levy) via targeted subsidies.