Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the APDC Congress, Amado da Silva, president of Anacom, admitted that in the coming days the regulator will move forward with decisions that are fundamental for the tender for the universal service provider to materialize. This is a matter that has dragged on and that has caused some friction between Anacom and the previous Government.
According to Amado da Silva, within a few days, Anacom will disclose likely directions of decisions, one of which is related to the accounting of the net cost of the universal service. This accounting will serve as the basis for setting the compensation fund that is paid by all operators to the telecommunications company that wins the tender.
The lack of this accounting has been one of the main criticisms and has already been pointed out as one of the reasons that justify the delay in launching the tender. Portugal Telecom currently holds the universal service concession but has been saying that it is in deficit.
The launch of the tender to define which operator will ensure universal service, and under what terms, is a requirement of the European Commission that has already put Portugal on Court due to the award of the concession without a public tender to Portugal Telecom.
It should also be remembered that the current Government has already clarified that it intends for Broadband to integrate the universal service, an intention that today was again reinforced by the Minister of Economy, Vieira da Silva.
The inclusion of broadband in the universal service is a trend that several countries are embracing. In the United States the issue is being studied and it is estimated that it will cost more than 350 billion dollars. In Spain, a public consultation was recently held on the subject – which in Portugal was already promoted at the end of 2007. Finland is more advanced and has already passed a law that considers access to broadband to be a constitutional right.