NBTC plans to cut USO levy
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will lower the Universal Service Obligation (USO) levy from 3.75 per cent of telecom licence holders' annual revenue to reduce the burden on small players, NBTC commissioner Sukit Khamasundara said yesterday.
He said the new USO levy was expected to be announced in the third quarter. The planned cut is also in line with the NBTC's expectation of more than Bt4 billion from the levy this year.
Under the five-year USO scheme that began last year, the watchdog has targeted contributions totalling Bt22 billion, or more than Bt4 billion per year. But this year the contribution is expected to be above the annual target, after the granting of three licences last year to operate third-generation cellular service on the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum. The number of overall telecom-licence holders has also increased, said Sukit, who is in charge of the USO scheme.
One option to lower the USO levy is to raise the minimum annual revenue at which it kicks in to Bt40 million. Currently, those earning annual revenue of more than Bt20 million are subject to the levy. During the last seven months the NBTC received Bt2.72 billion from the USO levy, above the target by Bt532 million.
Sukit said the Information and Communications Technology Ministry should hold talks with the NBTC to fine-tune their separate plans of promoting equal access to telecom service across the country to avoid overlaps. The NBTC's USO scheme and the ministry's Smart Thailand scheme both aim to promote equal accessibility to telecommunications.
The USO fund is used to hire companies to develop telecom services in remote areas. The NBTC believes it can accomplish equal telecom service access in all 76 provinces by next year.
In April it will pilot an auction to grant telecom-service development projects under the USO scheme in Phitsanulok and Nong Khai on a budget of Bt250 million each.