STAFF REPORT ISB: Universal Service Fund (USF), under its Rural Telecom Programme, has so far provided basic telephony and data services in almost 4,000 villages which also included areas where people had to walk kilometers to make even a single phone call.

Under the programme, launched to facilitate the far-flung areas, the Fund had signed contracts with 6,410 mauzas, of which 3,967 contracts have been completed and 3,940 of them audited.

“In telecenters domain, work on 51 contracts has been completed out of total 64 while 49 such centres have also been audited. A project to establish more telecentres is also being worked out to further expand the opportunities for people,” sources in the USF said.

The Fund has so far ensured these in 288 2nd and 3rd tier cities and towns along with providing more than 520,000 broadband connections.

The broadband programme also includes establishment of 1,100 Educational Broadband Centres (EBCs) in higher secondary schools and colleges and more than 300 Community Broadband Centres (CBCs) for people who cannot afford to have their own computers.

Similarly, they said in Optic Fiber Programme, more than 5,000 kms of optic fiber cable has been laid to connect un-served tehsils and towns.

The Fund has made a landmark achievement by disbursing subsidy of Rs. 4.2 billion in during previous fiscal year for its projects to provide telecom services across the length and breadth of the country.

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