As part of a special review of ICT policy in Indonesia, e-Indonesia, the Indonesian ICT monthly magazine, interviewed a number of key stakeholders including the Minister Sofyan Djalil, Commissioners from BRTI, the regulatory body, civil society group, industry reps and ICT experts. LIRNEasia researcher, Divakar Goswami, was also interviewed. The interview is featured in the online edition here. The interview is in bahasa. The English text of the interview is below: 1.
Rohan Samarajiva chaired the Universal, Ubiquitous, Equitable and Affordable session at the ITU World 2006 that raised some fundamental questions about Universal Service Obligation (USO) programs around the world. Rohan introduced the topic [PDF] drawing from LIRNEasia‘s recent Shoestrings II study on telephone use at the “bottom of the pyramid.” The first Keynote speaker, Zhengmao Li, VP China Unicom, described the efforts of the Chinese govt and his company in building a harmonious digital society. Thanks to the govt’s policy to provide access to ICTs on an equitable and affordable basis, more than 97 percent of administrative villages in China have a phone. The second Keynote speaker, Tom Philips, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSM Association forcefully argued that USO programs in most parts of the world have not resulted in improved access but have rather harmed the objective of connecting those who currently do not have access.
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 .
Harsha de Silva & Payal Malik 20 May 6pm PM: specifically looking at subsidy mechanisms for diversification, hence ‘moving beyond the market . Instruments looking at are hte universal service obligation fund (USF) and hte access deficit charge (ADC). There has been a diminishing of market efficiency gap (i.e, efficiency is improving). Slide # 3 shows the major improvements in efficiency in the market.