The Post and Telecommunications Department (PTD) of Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) has published its draft Universal Service Strategy (2018 to 2022) and invited feedback from the public on the proposals. The document sets out the four main goals of the strategy – to make telecoms services available, accessible and affordable for all, and for all citizens to have a good level of ICT literacy – as well as three programmes intended to help achieve those targets. Programme 1 covers infrastructure projects to bring population coverage for basic voice and broadband services up to 99% of the population over the next five years, with an anticipated cost of around USD34 million, bankrolled by a Universal Service Fund (USF). Programme 2, meanwhile, will look to improve ICT literacy by providing additional education and training. This will be focused primarily on high schools, although some training will also be made available to the wider public via ‘alternative digital learning centres’ in facilities that already have internet access, such as public libraries, certain government institutions and non-government organisations. Finally, Programme 3 will look into special projects to ensure availability and access for rural or low-income groups – especially those with minority languages, and individuals with additional needs. The programme will also look to support other pilot projects and develop ICT and broadband access within certain sectors, such as health.
The USF will be funded by a 2% levy on service providers’ annual revenues, which is expected to generate between USD100 million and USD121 million over the five years covered by the strategy. As such, the funding requirements for the main expenditure programme would be raised within the first two years. The MOTC notes, however, that it will regularly monitor and review the results of the USF in terms of actual collections, disbursements, funding requirements of projects and the financial health of the sector, and may change the USF policy accordingly.