The Nicaraguan telecoms regulator Telcor plans to use the country’s universal access fund Fitel to fund the roll out of an additional 500,000 fixed and mobile lines for users in rural communities. Starting 17 January 2006, national telco Enitel – owned by América Móvil – will begin the first stage of deployment, due for completion in May. As it stands, many people in small, remote communities have to travel up to 20km to get access to a telephone. The first stage of the project will see public phones installed in the premises of municipal authorities in 353 rural communities, as well as the expansion of mobile coverage to 28 municipalities in 15 departments. Autonomous regions and Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast will not be included in this phase. The initiative is costing USD8.7 million, of which USD4.5 million is being paid for by Enitel, with the remainder coming from Telcor via income taxes collected from private telecoms operators. Nicaragua has one of the lowest fixed line penetration rates in Central America, with 250,000 lines at the end of 2005.