Anatel?s universal-access department has decided to give top priority to drafting rules for the new public digital telecommunications service to be created in accordance with a ruling issued last week by the National Audit Court (TCU). Anatel plans to auction licenses and have the service up and running in 2004. The Court authorized use of the FUST telecommunications universalization fund to create the new service for digital inclusion of schools, hospitals, libraries and other public institutions, via the Internet among other media.
According to Edmundo Matarazzo, head of the department, the TCU ruling has removed all doubts about the legality of the new service so there?s no justification for delays in issuing rules and regulations. The department plans to work these out in collaboration with the Communications Ministry. Because the new service is public, licensees must be committed to meeting universal-access and quality-of-service targets. Anatel will first define licensing areas similar to those already in force for public telephone services.
Use of FUST in accordance with the new model entails a repeal of the laws currently in force to govern this matter, which is anyway subject to judicial review. In practice no one will be able to apply for money from FUST without first obtaining a license to operate the new service. Telephone companies and pay-TV distributors will be eligible, among others.