As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003 and 2006) Universal Service Obligation is defined as access to telegraph service to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.
The New Telecom Policy – 1999 (NTP’99) provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy (UAL)’, which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses. The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002. The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003. The Rules for administration of the Fund known as Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2004 were notified on 26.03.2004. As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006 and 2008), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.
Functions of USO Administrator
>To formulate USOF projects under the various streams provided in the Indian Telegraph Rules, in consultation with telecom services providers and various stakeholders.
>To design the bidding process and carry out tendering.
>To enter into implementation agreements with Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
>To monitor the implementation of USOF projects and to disburse subsidy in accordance with terms and conditions of USOF agreements.
>To design the format of various records and returns to be maintained by the TSPs.
>To carry out post implementation review of USOF Schemes.
>Budgeting and Audit of USOF Activities.
>Interface with International Organizations such as ITU, APT and USO Funds of other nations.