What I communicated to Myanmar decision makers on universal service funds back in 2013, at the start of the reforms

Posted on August 31, 2017  /  0 Comments

I understand universal service strategy formulation is moving forward in Myanmar these days. I looked back to see what we said four years ago. Can still live with it (though I would add some recommendations based on subsequent thinking).

3. Focus one-off subsidies solely on capital expenditures, to improve targeting and reduce leakages and avoid over-burdening the under-resourced government agencies, namely
a. A domestic backhaul network that will be made available on cost-oriented and non-discriminatory terms to all access-network operators. The subsidies will provide incentives for faster rollout of the backhaul network throughout the country and closer to population concentrations. Once capex subsidies are taken into account, the cost-oriented rates should be lower than otherwise.
1. It is important that errors made in the ADB financed GMR regional network be avoided by ensuring that the operator of the backhaul network is not an access network operator.
2. Best efforts should be made to integrate the domestic fiber into regional networks so that the increasing demands of international backhaul will also be addressed.
b. Myanmar requires redundant international backhaul connectivity to meet the demands of increased Internet use and of IT and IT-enabled industries. Currently, its only undersea connectivity is supplied by the rapidly-obsolescing SEA-ME-WE3 cable. If subsidies are required to attract additional undersea cables to Myanmar’s shores, there may be merit in considering a procedure that would disburse subsidies in return for assured low rates and open access to the cable station. The same logic can be applied to regional terrestrial cable systems.
c. Towers and renewable energy in defined rural areas may be subsidized, following the Pakistan model.

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