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.
Now that telecom networks have a bigger footprint than electric power networks, the question of power sources is assuming increasing importance. Quite a lot of work is being done in our region on reducing the power requirements of base stations and of substituting for expensive diesel generators. In Pakistan, using renewable sources at base stations are mandatory for those obtaining subsidies. The power is also made available for the recharging of handsets. But would it not be wonderful if handsets require no external power and no batteries?
A write-up by an Indian journalist who attended the recent Islamabad Expert Forum summarizes the reasons for it working better than the gargantuan Indian USF: lower rate; efficient disbursement mechanism: Interestingly, while in India, a telecom operator has to contribute 5 per cent of its annual revenue to the USO Funds, Pakistan charges much less at 1.5 per cent. In India, the funds go to the national budget and the Department of Telecommunications has to make projects to source them, in Pakistan a separate company has been created to utilise the funds. The journalist also points to a new twist whereby renewable energy has been made mandatory for all base stations supported by the Fund. In a bold move, the Pakistan Telecom Authority, the telecom Regulator has made it mandatory that all bases stations being set up with support from the USF should be ‘Green Sites’ or renewable energy powered, especially solar and wind as the case may be.
Barack Obama used his first weekly address as U.S. president to provide more details of his proposed US$825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that, among other things, will upgrade classrooms, invest in renewable energy and expand broadband Internet access. Obama stated his intention to invest in these areas during the presidential debates in September and came back to the issue in a December address that he issued as president-elect, but over the weekend he added concrete goals to the plan. But on one aspect of the recovery plan — expanding broadband access — he offered no concrete goals and a supporting document issued by the White House doesn’t mention the word “broadband” once.