Nowadays, when connectivity has proved to be of upmost importance for distance learning, working from home, continuity of business and maintaining social relations, universal service rules ensuring that every user can access basic communications services at a reasonable quality and an affordable price should be analysed as a potential instrument to achieve it.
During a two-day workshop organised on 4-5 March by the EU’s TAIEX instrument (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange), participants from the Eastern Partner countries were introduced to EU principles of Universal Service as foreseen in the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC). Thus, the safety net that ensures basic connectivity to all, alongside issues such as affordability, availability and financing of universal service were the highlights of the event discussions.
Universal Access Challenges faced by developing countries and the challenges of Universal Service Fund were presented by a representative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who emphasised the need for data driven and collaborative regulation to overcome the new challenges of the digital era and to ensure a consistent legal regulatory framework that can adapt quickly to respond to changing and evolving priorities.
Experts from BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications and from EU members states presented a selection of EU practices that could be further analysed by Eastern partner experts and implemented according to each country’s specifics and needs.
Providing an overview of some successful results in connecting the Research and Education Communities in the EaP, the EU4Digital EaPConnect project highlighted measures to be considered based on practical challenges met by the project.