The Global VSAT Forum is escalating a global effort to have public money earmarked for SATCOM projects. The opportunity has its roots in an international effort to bridge the digital divide; an increasing number of governments have established universal service funds (USFs) in which billions of dollars are now deposited for use in supporting communications projects. However, allocation of those funds is often delayed, or governments are unaware of the unique role that SATCOM services can play in enabling USF-supported projects.
GVF has already taken action with respect to this opportunity. In July of 2009, GVF hosted a summit for USF directors with the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation. The event was held in Lusaka, Zambia. Directors of USFs from six African nations attended the meeting. The event was made possible through a GVF partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). GVF has also been conducting bi-lateral meetings with other countries to explore their intentions with respect to USFs, and ongoing USF dialogues are currently underway in the Caribbean, Australia, Vietnam, and elsewhere. GVF is inviting broader Membership participation in the following areas of the USF Initiative:
- A white paper has been drafted by GVF legal counsel, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, that provides background and insights into how GVF Members may approach the USF opportunity
- The GVF Regulatory Working Group is developing USF Guidelines that will offer consensus-based policy guidance to USF directors. As many USFs are administered by regulatory agencies and in view of the enabling role of effective regulatory reform this will be modeled on the GVF Satellite Regulatory & Policy Guidelines, which have proven to be a very effective document among national administrations and inter-governmental groups.
- Complementary policy papers are envisioned on specific regulatory questions related to USFs, such as the importance of technological neutrality or the issues related to partnerships with foreign service providers. These and the aforementioned USF Guidelines will be used to build capacity in the regulatory community and to promote regulatory approaches that enable more successful mobilization and application of USF-supported satellite communications solutions
For details and to obtain a copy of the USF White Paper, please contact the GVF RWG Chairman, Matt Botwin, at firstname.lastname@example.org. GVF looks forward to including all organizations in this important opportunity.