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Service, Fund, ict, connectivity, access, Broadband, Deployment, asia pacific

The Impact of Universal Service Funds on Fixed-Broadband Deployment and Internet Adoption in Asia and the Pacific

Investment in the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure plays a significant role for achieving all SDGs, in particular SDG 9. Enhanced and affordable access to ICT will benefit an expanding range of development interventions and public services, but the digital divide in Asia and the Pacific remains a major development challenge, restraining the potential for delivering transformative capabilities that the achievement of all SDGs requires.

In response, governments across the world have adopted universal access and service funds (UASFs) as a mechanism in order to expand ICT access in unserved and underserved areas. UASF plays an important function in providing funds to promote affordable and accessible telecommunication and broadband services for all.

This report examines selected country case studies in the region to identify the policy challenges and opportunities associated with management of UASFs and conducts econometric analysis to identify the impact of UASF on expansion of broadband and Internet access. The study was undertaken to promote enabling  financing mechanisms for broadband connectivity projects under the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative. The report found that countries with UASFs targeting broadband/Internet expansion have not experienced better results in fixed-broadband and Internet growth than the countries without such a fund. In addition, possibly due to weaknesses in the design, structure and implementation, the efficiency of UASFs seems to have been limited. The results of this report pose important policy implications for governments and international organizations in promoting this financing mechanism and understanding the likely impact that UASFs can have on broadband expansion.

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