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USP Fund: Local telcos to contribute by year end

07 May 2002, New Straits Times
Local telecommunications companies will only be required to contribute to the Universal Service Provider (USP) fund at the end of the year, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). "The fund is expected to be rolled out in July," its chairman Tan Sri Nuraizah Abdul Hamid said yesterday. The USP fund is set up to improve communications access to areas which are underserved by the main telecommunications providers. It is to address the need for the equitable and balanced distribution of information and communications infrastructure in the country. To start the ball rolling, the MCMC has contributed RM30 million to the USP fund. The MCMC is still working on the contribution of each telco to the fund. "The fund will be used to connect areas considered underserved, where network access and facilities are below the national penetration rate of 22 percent," Nuraizah said. About 89 areas have already been identified. "We will begin with three areas immediately this year - Julau in Sarawak, Kinabatangan in Sabah and Yan in Kedah," Nuraizah said. The projects would focus on three types of services - public phones or services in public, individual phone access and Internet access. "Telcos which are nearest to the area involved would be allowed to bid for the projects," Nuraizah said. "Whoever wins the bid will have access to the fund to lay out the infrastructre and provide the service." However, if there is no telco bidding, then the regulatory body will ensure that someone will provide the service, she said.
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