Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) that funds the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) project, has informed telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad that the broadband coverage target for 2014-15 "will be halved", reports The Economic Times. A senior official from USOF told the publication that BSNL, RailTel and PowerGrid had bagged the contracts for cable laying and trenching had informed the fund that the project. They will only be able to cover 50,000 villages by next year, as opposed to the targeted 100,000 villages. Interestingly, in an agreement (pdf) made with Bharat Broadband Network Limited earlier this year, USOF says that the target was to reach 250,000 gram panchayats by 2013. This could however be a part of the government's plans to set up WiFi hotspots in those many villages. [caption id="attachment_115664" align="aligncenter" width="558"] Annual collection of Universal Access Levy(UAL) vis-a-vis Allocation of subsidy by USOF (Rupees in Crores)[/caption] USOF was set up to finance the operation and maintenance of village public telephones, to provision household telephones in rural and remote areas, to create infrastructure to popularise use of mobile services in remote areas and to create broadband connectivity in rural areas. In 12 years, it has allocated Rs 17947.85 crore for various projects and still has Rs 33682.85 crore that can be allocated for future projects and for fulfilment of existing plans in the future. It is not clear as to how much the project cost go up by, following this delay. It is not clear by how much the costs of the project will…
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