Payal Malik


The award of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics to Jean Tirole is a cause for celebration for LIRNEasia. At the time of its inception in 2004, LIRNEasia committed itself to blend theory and practice to inform policymakers. One area identified by Rohan Samarajiva the founding Chair of LIRNEasia, was regulatory rules governing the telecommunications sector in the region. Regulatory agencies and regulation had already become an integral component of the telecom reform process in countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. There was no way that a policy think tank conducting research in telecommunications to inform policy for improved sector performance and regulatory processes could have ignored Tirole’s three decades of research in the domain of Industrial Organization (IO) that provided a normative theoretical basis for evaluating the structure and performance of individual markets (including telecommunications) and for economically reasoned intervention in them.
Joji Thomas of the Hindu Buisness Line reported this on August 21, 2006. LIRNEasia research by Payal Malik had recommended USO funds should be technology neutral as well as fund infrastructure creation, but the funds from the USF are not being released as mentioned in this report. Read on… JOJI THOMAS PHILIP NEW DELHI [ MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2006 10:27:47 AM] DEPARTMENT of telecom has demanded that the finance ministry allocate an additional Rs 2,000 crore towards the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), over and above the Rs 1,500 crore that has been allocated in the Union Budget. It has also said that all telecom companies should pay 5% of their adjusted gross revenue towards the USOF, which is used for building and supporting telecom infrastructure in rural India. DoT move is likely to cause a showdown with the finance ministry .
NEW DELHI, APRIL 13: The government is in the process of amending the Indian Telegraph Act to extend the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund support to cellular mobile services (both GSM and CDMA). As of today, the government is giving USO fund support to only the fixed line operators offering services in the rural areas. “We are looking at amending the Telegraph Act to accommodate the cellular services and CDMA-based services to reach the rural areas. We are looking at sharing of the passive infrastructure with the cellular service providers,” communications and information technology (C&IT) minister Dayanidhi Maran told reporters. Besides covering the villages, the minister is of the opinion that the wireless services should also provide connectivity to the Railways and highways especially in rural areas.
By Payal Malik In his budget speech the Finance Minister of India promised a release of Rs. 1,200 crores (USD 275 million) for the Universal Service Fund. While it is heartening that the funds are being released and are not being gobbled by the Contingency Fund of India, what is however disheartening is that competition and liberalisation has not achieved its full potential in bridging the rural urban divde and like in the monopoly era one has to wait for budgetary pronouncements for rural telephony to jumpstart. An extract from his speech: Telecommunication is the best way to provide connectivity in urban and rural India. By the end of January 2005, we had achieved a tele-density of 8.