Evolution of universal service in Morocco

The mechanisms of the Universal Service (U.S.), beside competition, continue to constitute a means of reducing the digital social divide in the mobile networks and also in the networks called of very high speed. These mechanisms are necessary especially when the economic forces of the market, within the framework of competition, alone do not make it possible to ensure the services offered by the telecom networks to users of low incomes and in the financially unprofitable areas for telecom operators.

In Morocco, the U.S really started to be concrete only since the changes that were made in 2004 on the telecoms law 24-96 and on certain relevant texts as the decree No 2-97-102 on general conditions applied to operators. The modification of the law 24-96 in 2004 allowed the introduction among other the mechanism of “Pay or Play”. On the side of financing the missions of U.S, a telecom universal service fund (TUSF) was planned during the course of these amendments of telecom texts. Fund created as account where annual contributions of operators are deposited (2% of turnover). This account was created in the form of a special appropriation account, by the Law of Finances of the year 2005.  To prepare and validate the programs of U.S. eligible for funding by the TUSF, pursuant to the governmental strategy, a Committee of Management of the Universal Service of Telecommunications (CMUST) was also created in July 2005 by the aforementioned decree. Thanks to these amendments and the will of the decision makers of the then, we were able to launch some projects useful and successful for the community like the programs PACTE and INJAZ.

Today, with the development of very high speed including in particular FTTH (Fiber to Home), a new orientation of the mechanisms of U.S must be planned in Morocco in order to connect the maximum of Moroccan citizens to high speed broadband networks and this within the framework of win-win agreements between the State and all the Telecoms operators.

The U.S remains one of the means at the disposal of public authorities in order to connect the maximum of citizens to high speed internet including in particular FTTH. As a matter of fact, High-speed Internet is a necessity and not a luxury product as was decided by a court in the United States on June 15, 2016 (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/technology/net-neutrality-FCC-APPEALS SHORT-RULING.HTML?_R=0).

Digital technology is now present everywhere, in all sectors of the economy and it is the basis for development of innovative activities. Activities which are creating economic growth. The internet now provides a powerful web of communication and diffusion of information, through various applications. It presents itself as the first global base of knowledge. The digital technology is deeply transforming mentalities and the economic and social structures. For the modern business of today, the Internet became a useful and essential tool.

For the sake of social justice, digital for all, must become everyone’s concern in Morocco.

If the State does not contribute to reduce the digital divide through competition and U.S, this will lead to accentuate existing divides, whether social or cultural. Indeed without reducing the digital divide including investment in training in the digital technology, citizens in unprofitable areas will certainly lose access to employment, knowledge and individual fulfillment. Thus it is very useful to promote the development of the digital universal service in the very high speed as prominent as these technologies help to preserve social participation and promote community belonging.

To attain these objectives in Morocco it is important to:

– In terms of the law and regulations: clearly define the new contours to go to a high-speed broadband for all;

– In the field of the association of others: innovate in the definition of cooperation agreements between the State, telecom operators and local communities in an objective of solidarity and general interest.

– To allow alternative operators to propose FTTH services with an economic space financially profitable for them. For this reason, the authorities in Morocco should encourage these alternative operators to build a national fiber optic Backbone even that this backbone is redundant compared to the incumbent operator to avoid killing the competition in the long term.

– To contribute to the adoption of the joint decree relating to the implementation of technical standards enabling developers and real estate contractors and to set deadlines for the transition to optical fiber and in good conditions.

– To establish training objectives within the national education in order to gain time in terms of the digital transformation of Moroccan society. When we know that a 10% penetration of very high speed allows the realization of an additional 1% of GDP in of a country.

– To improve digital literacy of the population to facilitate the appropriation of digital tools and also to facilitate the acquisition of the population of a critical view vis-à-vis the digital.

By Alan Smith BST (USA).

For any remarks you can send me an email at alansmith.BST @gmail.com

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