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

Tag Archives: universal service

Broadband Policy Course in India: Applications are being called for Indian citizens residing in the country to participate in the course held from 16th to 19th December 2016. For more details see announcement.

Disbursement rates of universal service funds to be discussed at IIC conference in Bangkok


I and many others have been critical about the performance of universal service funds. One of the main criticisms has been their inability to efficiently disburse the collected funds. Having USD billions stagnating in these funds does not make any sense. In previous comments I have simply referred to the massive accumulations in the Indian […]

Universal connectivity discussed at IIC 2016 conference


IIC is an organization that provides a platform for discussion of ICT policy and regulation with a specialized focus. They are spending a week in our neck of the woods, Bangkok. The main conference will be on October 12-13. Here are the two sessions I am participating in on Day 1. SESSION 2: LINKING ICT […]

All the presentations at A4AI meeting in Yangon in July 2015

A4AI has published all the slidesets used at the universal service workshop, that LIRNEasia attended. The presentations are here.

Learning from the experience of others in universal service design

One of the advantages Myanmar has in telecom is that it can learn from the experience of others, including countries that are/were similarly situated. This was the central proposition I advanced in my first piece on Myanmar telecom reforms, published in 2012 in Myanmar. Keeping to that theme, I spoke on what can be learned […]

Challenges of implementing universal service through direct subsidies

The United States has been at the bleeding edge of universal service policy ever since the term was misinterpreted from the early competitive era. It is therefore worth paying attention to the current FCC efforts. We will soon have US Aid and others promoting these ideas in our parts. More than 12 million households now […]

Finally, India universal service contribution comes down from 5% to 3%

It has been a long time coming, but finally the universal service contribution as a percentage of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) looks certain to be reduced from five percent to three percent. The last time we wrote about this was in 2009, when the Finance Ministry stopped it. But, of course, nothing is ever so […]

Only 2.6% of universal service funds collected in Nepal over the past 17 years has been disbursed

One does not expect a simple assignment in a course to yield a news story that is distributed by a news service, but that is what happened at the broadband course we taught 28-31 March in Nagarkot, Nepal. The assignment required the team members to, inter alia, Assess the likelihood of success of the following […]

Applying basic principles of policy design across sectors

Parvez Iftikhar will be amused that I am proposing a fund, after objecting to his favorite Universal Service Fund. But that is how the policy game gets played. We look at something that does not work at all or produces more bad outcomes than good (government-owned telcos with universal service obligations in the old days; […]

A policy window for those interested in better broadband policy in India?

Usually one has only the time stipulated in the consultation paper to prepare a response. In this case, the Chair is giving extra time to intervenors to get organized. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chair Rahul Khullar on Wednesday said the authority would come out with a consultation paper on broadband next month. The […]

Promoting broadband: Balancing competition and subsidies

Not the most perfect summary, since I did the interview with half my mind on the need to get to the airport in time for my flight out.

LIRNEasia Chair to moderate panel on broadband promotion at ITU Telecom World in Bangkok

Governments like subsidies. We do not mind, as long as they do not harm competition and are deployed intelligently. One big complaint we had about the Indian Universal Service Fund was that it was not being used (as was the even bigger fund accumulated by Brazil). The Indian government responded with a USD 4 billion […]

Anti universal service in Pakistan?

We have been working with the Pakistan Telecom Authority, the Pakistan Universal Service Fund and operators to achieve universal service in that country. Universal service means a phone for everyone. But according to this report there are people in Pakistan who will kill barbarically to prevent this goal from being achieved. A young mother of […]

Another dysfunctional e subsidy program, this time in America

The money comes from everyone with a telecom connection in the US. And the government has trouble pushing it through. Five billion USD is a lot of money to keep unspent. Here, we’ve been griping about India’s USD 4 billion and Brazil’s USD 4 billion plus. The E-Rate program has been faulted for inadequately allocating […]

Another dog-in-the-manger universal service fund

The big unspent piles of cash in the Brazilian and Indian universal service funds are well known. Less well known are the under-performing funds in small countries. Nepal is one. Having the money extracted from mostly poor customers in one of the poorest countries in the world, an LDC, is particularly offensive: While he vowed […]

Myanmar is last in telecoms: What can be done

Myanmar Times

A short piece I wrote on my own time (IDRC is subject to Canadian government restrictions against any expenditures of Canadian funds in/for Myanmar) was just published in English in the Myanmar Times. I am hopeful the Bamar translation will also be published. The text is below: In 2010, I worked on a section of […]


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