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Basil: Universal Access Scheme a must to link ICT services to all

PNG Minister for Communication, Information Technology and Energy, and ICT Sam Basil says the universal access scheme (UAS) is vital to fill in communication gaps in the country.
Mr Basil said this at the UAS workshop facilitated by NICTA in Port Moresby yesterday.
He said the failure to provide ICT services will create a situation where citizens are deprived of accessibility to any benefits of advanced communications including improved education, health and economic opportunities and the increase in ability to participate in the political process.
Mr Basil said the industry knows too well that the goal of achieving UAS is a challenge.
“After 2017 about less than 40 per cent of the 8.5 million people in PNG had access to mobile phones while about 4 per cent had access to high-speed or broadband internet services,” Mr Basil said.
“While the population has access to communications demand for access continues to grow as a result about 60 per cent of our population mainly in the rural areas remains unconnected.
“Our challenge is to connect the remaining 60 per cent of our people wherever they may be with communication services.”
He said those in the urban centres are enjoying the benefits of these services while the rest of the 5.1 million population remain without access to voice telephony and internet or mobile data access.
“Residents of cities and urban areas including Port Moresby, Lae Mt Hagen, Madang, Kokopo and some of the areas experience these services, what about the rest of the people?” he said.
“We have a duty to develop the UAS program as a strategy to facilitate the provision of ICT services to the un-served.”
Mr Basil said under the program, the government and its industry partners and the industry need to make an effort to fund the program targeting the unserved and the underserved citizens.
“The UAS fund is dedicated to providing ICT services in dedicated areas and will be administered in a non discriminatory and transparent manner, it will be guided by established criteria’s to ensure the program does not interfere with the market,” Mr Basil said.
This will be applied in areas where ICT providers are unable to cover due them being commercially nonviable.  Post Courier/ PNG eHow
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