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Waiting list for rural telephones goes down, Govt

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 26: The government has said the waiting list for rural telephones have gone down with most of the states having a clean chit, except Punjab which has the maximum of 1,536 phones yet to be connected.

The total number is only 2729 in the country as the waiting list of more than eight years is about 0.22 per cent of the total waiting list in the rural areas. ''This waiting list of more than eight years is mostly from far flung and scattered areas where laying of telecom network is techno-commercially not feasible,'' Minister of state for Communications and IT Shakeel Ahmad said.

He said the Universal Servic Obligation Fund (USOF) is supporting the provision of telecom facilities in the rural areas of the country. The USOF has enetred into an agreement with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Private operators for provision of communications in rural areas. They include provision of village public telephone (VPTs) by Novemeber 2007 in all the remaining 66,822 unconnected eligible villages as on November 2004 excluding villages having less than 100 population, lying in thick forest areas/ naxalite affected etc. 49,640 of these villages is yet to be connected.

BSNL will also provide Rural Community Phones (RCP) in villages with population of more than 2,000 and where there are no Public Call Offices (PCOs). The antiquated Multi-Access Radio Relay (MARR) technology used in the village phones will be replaced, while rural individual phone connections (REDLs) will be provided 1,685 commercially unviable Short Distance Charging Areas (SDCAs).

The Minister said there will be alarge scale deployment of Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) network in rural areas.

Also, one third of the 60 million lines for the GSM, for which the tendering process was recently held, are expected to benefit coverage in rural areas.

The Minister said an amount of Rs 7,254.56 crores has been collected up to March 2005 under the USOF. Anticipated collection for 2005-06 is Rs 3,303 crores.

He said till December 2005, an amount of Rs 3,216.39 crores has been disbursed to telecom service providers towards provision of rural telephony.


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