The government of Egypt believes that access to information and telecommunications services at affordable prices is an inevitable right to all citizens, with the aim of promoting political, economic and cultural cohesion leading to economic development. Within framework of the Egyptian Information Society Initiative, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) introduced a Universal Service Fund (USF) with an initial budget of 50 millions L.E. The establishment of the Fund in March 2005 was in accordance with the Telecommunication Act, Law 10/2003, which gave the NTRA the responsibility of managing the fund. According to this law, the aim of this fund is:

  • To compensate telecommunications operators and service providers for “price differences between the approved economical price for a service and that which may be determined by the State in favor of the user”; and
  • To fund infrastructure projects required for establishing the universal service rule.
  • To fund projects of the telecommunication and information national plan.
  • To fund the reallocation of frequency spectrum.
Universal Service can be defined as the provision of affordable basic telecommunication services to all citizens especially in the economically non-feasible regions. This includes as well the fax and data services with speed rates that allow for accessing the internet within framework of technology neutrality and competitive environment.

Economic Benefits of Equitable Access of Telecommunications Services

  • The spread of telecommunications is an important key to a modern employment market
  • Flourishing of small businesses 
  • Improvement of marketing potentials for enterprises in general (because of their ability to reach more customers)
  • Wide spread of telecommunications leads to more outsourcing services from developed to developing countries as indicated by teledensity and the availability of broadband. 
Social benefits of the Equitable and Widespread distribution of Telecommunications Services

  • Eliminating disparity between rural and urban areas, sometimes known as the domestic digital divide, which tends to be more obvious in lower income countries
  • Improved law enforcement
  • Rapid and effective communication during disasters 
  • Promoting national political, economic and cultural cohesion
  • Stronger kinship ties
  • A more balanced population distribution to encourage the development of areas outside congested metropolitan areas  

​Goals of the NTRA Universal Service Policy 
Guaranteeing access to telecommunications services to all citizens at affordable prices
Guaranteeing free competition and non-monopolistic practices
Enhancing usage of modernised technologies and to expand the scope of services offered
Consolidating the national, political, economic and cultural interactions

Benefactors of Universal Service
Inhabitants of low-income high-cost areas 
Low-income citizens, who can not afford telecommunication service
Citizens with special needs
Public establishments such as: schools, libraries and hospitals

Role of NTRA in Universal Service projects
Setting regulations for provision of telecommunication services in remote areas or areas where service provision is economically non-feasible
Defining financing mechanisms for universal service projects such as the universal service fund
Setting universal service policy, identifying telecommunication service providers and operators, who are subject to universal service obligations and defining these obligations in accordance with Telecom Act 10/2003
Defining the un-served areas, which deserve subsidies from the universal service fund pursuant to the policy
Determining universal service projects for each year. Projects will be open for bidding where proposals will be examined on the technical and economic levels to select the best
Monitoring the implementation of universal service projects to ensure their compatibility to timeframes as well as to technical and economic specifications
Setting measures that should be carried out in case the universal service operators and providers do not abide by the set standards or timetables

Current Activities
Three bids have been accepted to provide mobile telecommunication services in three areas in South Sinai (Wadi Feran, Wadi Soaal, Sarabeet Elkhadem) to Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat Misr, MobiNil respectively. The project costs USF a total of 30 million EGP. The service is scheduled to be launched by the first quarter of 2016.

The government of Egypt believes that access to information and telecommunications services at affordable prices is an inevitable right to all citizens, with the aim of promoting political, economic and cultural cohesion leading to economic development. Within framework of the Egyptian Information Society Initiative, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) introduced a Universal Service Fund (USF) with an initial budget of 50 millions L.E. The establishment of the Fund in March 2005 was in accordance with the Telecommunication Act, Law 10/2003, which gave the NTRA the responsibility of managing the fund. According to this law, the aim of this fund is:

  • To compensate telecommunications operators and service providers for "price differences between the approved economical price for a service and that which may be determined by the State in favor of the user"; and
  • To fund infrastructure projects required for establishing the universal service rule.
  • To fund projects of the telecommunication and information national plan.
  • To fund the reallocation of frequency spectrum.

Universal Service can be defined as the provision of affordable basic telecommunication services to all citizens especially in the economically non-feasible regions. This includes as well the fax and data services with speed rates that allow for accessing the internet within framework of technology neutrality and competitive environment. 

Economic Benefits of Equitable Access of Telecommunications Services

  • The spread of telecommunications is an important key to a modern employment market
  • Flourishing of small businesses
  • Improvement of marketing potentials for enterprises in general (because of their ability to reach more customers)
  • Wide spread of telecommunications leads to more outsourcing services from developed to developing countries as indicated by teledensity and the availability of broadband.

Social benefits of the Equitable and Widespread distribution of Telecommunications Services

  • Eliminating disparity between rural and urban areas, sometimes known as the domestic digital divide, which tends to be more obvious in lower income countries
  • Improved law enforcement
  • Rapid and effective communication during disasters
  • Promoting national political, economic and cultural cohesion
  • Stronger kinship ties
  • A more balanced population distribution to encourage the development of areas outside congested metropolitan areas  

Goals of the NTRA Universal Service Policy

  • Guaranteeing access to telecommunications services to all citizens at affordable prices
  • Guaranteeing free competition and non-monopolistic practices
  • Enhancing usage of modernised technologies and to expand the scope of services offered
  • Consolidating the national, political, economic and cultural interactions 

Benefactors of Universal Service

  • Inhabitants of low-income high-cost areas
  • Low-income citizens, who can not afford telecommunication service
  • Citizens with special needs
  • Public establishments such as: schools, libraries and hospitals 

Role of NTRA in Universal Service projects

  • Setting regulations for provision of telecommunication services in remote areas or areas where service provision is economically non-feasible
  • Defining financing mechanisms for universal service projects such as the universal service fund
  • Setting universal service policy, identifying telecommunication service providers and operators, who are subject to universal service obligations and defining these obligations in accordance with Telecom Act 10/2003
  • Defining the un-served areas, which deserve subsidies from the universal service fund pursuant to the policy
  • Determining universal service projects for each year. Projects will be open for bidding where proposals will be examined on the technical and economic levels to select the best
  • Monitoring the implementation of universal service projects to ensure their compatibility to timeframes as well as to technical and economic specifications
  • Setting measures that should be carried out in case the universal service operators and providers do not abide by the set standards or timetables. 

Current Activities

Three bids have been accepted to provide mobile telecommunication services in three areas in South Sinai (Wadi Feran, Wadi Soaal, Sarabeet Elkhadem) to Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat Misr, MobiNil respectively. The project costs USF a total of 30 million EGP. The service is scheduled to be launched by the first quarter of 2016. 

Universal Service and Broadband

Broadband plan projects can be considered to be under "infrastructure projects required for establishing the universal service rule" and "projects of the telecommunication and information national plan", while trying to reallocate frequency spectrum to facilitate broadband diffusion can be considered under "the reallocation of frequency spectrum". These are the uses of Universal Service Fund as stipulated by the law. Therefore Universal Service Fund can be used to fund broadband projects, especially infrastructure projects which are used to realize the universal service rule. 

Universal Service Fund is funded from public resources (residues of NTRA budget) and private resources (Universal Service obligations stipulated in operators' licenses (upto 0.5% of their Adjusted Gross Revenues)). Therefore the expenditure of this fund to broadband projects should be treated with utmost care to prevent any harm to be done to the free competition, public interest, or the market.

Broadband plan projects can be considered to be under "infrastructure projects required for establishing the universal service rule" and "projects of the telecommunication and information national plan", while trying to reallocate frequency spectrum to facilitate broadband diffusion can be considered under "the reallocation of frequency spectrum". These are the uses of Universal Service Fund as stipulated by the law. Therefore Universal Service Fund can be used to fund broadband projects, especially infrastructure projects which are used to realize the universal service rule.

Universal Service Fund is funded from public resources (residues of NTRA budget) and private resources (Universal Service obligations stipulated in operators' licenses (upto 0.5% of their Adjusted Gross Revenues)). Therefore the expenditure of this fund to broadband projects should be treated with utmost care to prevent any harm to be done to the free competition, public interest, or the market.