Creating Mobile Telephone Infrastructure:
The second concept of subsidising the telecom infrastructure required for providing services in rural and remote areas is designed to facilitate the more suited mobile services in this segment. For this purpose, 'purely passive items' like towers and land, which are shareable between the operators, are considered for subsidy entitlement. These are to be provided exclusively in areas where there is no coverage of the cellular signal at present. The operator who provides the infrastructure will have exclusivity rights for one year after which the facilities would be shared with other operators by charging nominal rent in order to meet the maintenance costs of the towers.
Experience in other developing countries (Bangladesh, some African countries) points to successful adaptation of mobile technology for rural use. In Bangladesh, for example, mobile telephones have proved highly remunerative in rural areas by devising ways for shared usage. The concept mooted by the USO Fund is an attempt at finding solutions suited to Indian needs. Its implementation will require a suitable amendment to the Indian Telegraph Act for enabling provision of Cellular Mobile Services under USO Fund. Also the legal and technical issues involved in sharing the infrastructure need to be addressed.