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Universal Service Fund

 

UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND (USF)

 

 

Introduction:Pursuant to section 44 of the Telecommunications Act [27 of 2000], there shall be established a Fund to be known as the Universal Service Fund, which Fund shall be managed by the Commission in accordance with the Telecommunications (Universal Service Fund) Regulations SI 120 of 2008

 
What is Universal Service?
Universal Service is the concept that every individual or household should have a baseline set of telecommunications services available at minimal or fair cost.
According to the Telecommunications Act, Universal Service includes the provision of: 

(a)  public voice telephony;

(b)  internet access;

(c)  telecommunications services to schools, hospitals and  similar institutions, and the  disabled and physically challenged; or

(d)  other service by which people access efficient, affordable and modern telecommunications.

 

 
What is The Fund?

 

The Fund established for the promotion of Universal Service. Accordingly, the Fund shall be available to support the expansion of affordable access to telecommunications services to locations and user groups that do not currently have sufficient access. Additionally, pursuant to the Telecommunications (Universal Service Fund) Regulations, the Fund shall provide financial support to projects that address one or more of the following objectives:

  1. Encourage efficient access to and use of telecommunication networks and services throughout Saint Lucia, with special focus on rural, under-served  and maritime areas, with a goal to help promote social, educational and economic development;

  2. Ensure the reasonable availability and affordability of basic and advanced telecommunications services, including voice telephony and  Internet access, as well as broadband connectivity at the community, household and individual levels, particularly where the commercial telecommunications market may be unable to deliver such services in a financially viable manner independently, as well as to the physically challenged, elderly, and indigent communities;

  3. Provide support for the introduction and expansion of telecommunications services to schools, health facilities and other organizations serving public needs;
  4. Promote technological innovation in the telecommunications sector.

Purpose of the Fund
 

The Fund shall be used by the Commission, on the recommendation of ECTEL, to compensate any telecommunications provider who is required to provide universal service by virtue of section 45 of the Act or to otherwise promote universal service.

 

Management of the Fund
 

The Telecommunications (Universal Service Fund) Regulations [S.I. 120 of 2008] provides for the efficient and effective management of the Universal Service Fund. The Regulations govern the way in which the Fund is managed. Along with these Regulations, there is the Universal Service Guidelines which, under Section 7 of the Telecommunication (Universal Service Fund) Regulations, have been issued and implemented for the proper operation of the fund. The Guidelines outline the broad policy framework for Universal Service implementation and sets out the required standards and procedures for proper management of the Universal Service Funds.

 
Who contributes to the Universal Service Fund?
 

As set forth in the Telecommunications (Universal Service Fund) Regulations [S.I. 120 of 2008], The Fund shall consist of-

1. Contribution by Telecommunications as Specified under the Act and the Telecommunications (Universal Service Fund Continution). Order [No. 45 of 2009] to the Universal Service Fund

2. Any funds appropirated by Parliament

3. Official grants, donations, bequests or other contributions or transfer grants by an individual or other legal entity

 
 
 
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