LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

LIRNEasia contributes to rethinking on universal service funds

Some of our best friends are at in the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), but still warms our hearts when they quote our writing, especially when we go out of our way to wave the red flag before those who still believe in the benevolent state. In a submission to the UN Group on the Information Society, they frankly debate the wisdom of continuing with universal service funds, among other things, quoting us:

Rohan Samarajiva of LIRNEasia suggests in a recent paper that explores the success of
the ‘budget telecom network model’ in South Asia that ‘the idea of making universal
service transparent by creating universal service funds …was a good idea in its time
..but experience suggests that it is an idea that has run its course’. He identifies two
problems:
Billions of dollars of universal levies lie unspent in government accounts.
Where money has been disbursed it has generally gone to fixed network
operators, mostly incumbents. All the while, people in un- and underserviced
areas are being connected, not by the subsidized fixed line operators but by
the mobile operators, whose poor customers are paying to support the
inefficiencies of the incumbents.

Always nice to be quoted, but even nicer if at least one of these monsters is phased out. Hope the UNGIS carries some weight.

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