New Delhi, Feb 27: The country's mobile telephone services are set to take a great leap forward with 60 million more lines to be added soon for achieving a target of 25 crore cell phone users by 2007.
The biggest ever tender in the history of telecom for 60 million lines will be invited soon, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology Shakeel Ahmad told the Rajya Sabha, replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour.
''Our target is to give connections for 25 crore phones by 2007,'' said the Minister.
Replying to another question, he said private mobile operators had asked for six months more time for utilisation of funds from the Universal Service Obligation (USO).
The Minister sought to refute the members' charge that the government was favouring private operators who, they said were not paying due attention to rural telephony.
Mr Ahmad said the members' perception was wrong as they did not know the fact that 98 per cent of the USO fund went to the government owned BSNL and not to private operators.
He said telecom services providers except those providing value added services like internet, voice mail, e-mail etc were paying Universal Service Levy (USL) at five per cent of the Adjusted Gross Revenue.
A subsidy of Rs 3216.30 had been distributed out of the USOF by February 13 this year for improvement and extension of rural telephony, said Mr Ahmad.