Universal Service can be defined as the provision of affordable public telecommunication services to all citizens especially in the economically non-feasible regions, with the aim of enabling the citizens to access the other public telecommunication networks being local, national or international. 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.
Benefactors of Universal Service
• Inhabitants of low-income remote 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. 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
Stages of Implementation
• First stage: Provision of basic telecommunications services to low-income areas that are economically non-feasible. Priority will be given to the more populated of such areas with the minimum of 300 persons.
Within framework of the implementation of this stage, the NTRA has released a Request for Information (RFI) for the provision and operation of telecommunications services to the un-served areas in five governorates namely; Menya, Qena, Matrouh, New Valley and North Sinai, as a preliminary step towards the Universal Service tender put forth by the NTRA. The company that submits the best offers, technically and economically will win (taking into consideration the lowest subsidy needed and the provision of services to the end-users at economical price). Eight companies applied for the RFI for the provision and operation of telecommunications services to the un-served areas mentioned in the Handbook.
• Second Stage: Increasing the average penetration rate in each governorate to 20%
• Third Stage: Narrowing the digital divide between people who enjoy tele-services especially users of e-government services on one hand and the people deprived of these services, by means of gradual provision of Internet and data services to each region according to the administrative division of governorate. First stage will focus on mother villages.
• Fourth Stage: Reaching a tele-density of 100% when measured by the number of fixed phone lines per family