The Indian government had earlier announced the BharatNet initiative to bridge the digital divide that exists between the rural and urban parts of the country. In view of that, the Indian Space Association (ISpA) wants the government to extend the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) subsidy for satellite broadband services. Jayant Patil, ISpA Chairman, told ET Telecom that offering USOF subsidy to the satellite broadband services is a wonderful opportunity for the government as it would complement the ongoing BharatNet initiative.
USOF Was Established in 2002 to Bridge Digital Divide in India
The USOF was established in 2002 and it is a corpus of Rs 55,000 crore. The money is meant to reduce the digital divide in India by extending access to digital services to the people living in remote areas of the country.
The BharatNet project of the government has the aim of connecting more than 250,000-gram panchayats which includes 600,000 villages nationwide. Started in 2012, the BharatNet project has only been able to connect over 180,000-gram panchayats until now.
Patil told the publication that offering subsidies to satellite broadband services would be very advantageous for the country. BharatNet project has displayed very slow growth but it won’t be the case with satcom services.
Patil noted that satellites have been used for providing backhaul for some time now. Thus, boosting the satcom services in the country would mean that every nook and corner of India will be able to get access to digital connectivity at a faster rate.
ISpA is an industry forum that was launched by the Prime Minister of India earlier this month. It includes companies such as Bharti owned OneWeb, Tata Group’s Nelco, Bharti Airtel, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Mapmyindia, and more.
The need for such an industry forum was high as multiple private satcom players will enter the Indian market starting next year.