Prior to the liberalization of its telecommunications market in 2010, Papua New Guinea had one of the lowest telephone penetration rates in the world. Following the introduction of competition within the mobile market, access to communications services has drastically improved. However, with more than 70% of the population living in the rural areas, most Papua New Guineans had yet to have access to basic communications services.
Recognizing this deficiency, the Government legislated the Universal Access and Service Fund (UAS Fund) in the National Information and Communications Technology Act 2009 (the Act). The UAS regime gives effect to the Government’s vision of connecting the country through Information and Communication Technolgy (ICT). Amongst others objectives, the UAS regime seeks to facilitate improved access to basic communications services. Equally important, the UAS aims to improve affordability of these services and provide reliable telecommunications infrastructure to rural and remote Papua New Guinea.
The UAS is administered by the UAS Secretariat within the National ICT Authority (NICTA) and reports to the UAS Board.
The UAS regime's objective as defined in Section 90 of the National Information and Communications Technology Act 2009, amongst others, is to promote the long-term economic and social development of Papua New Guinea by funding approved UAS Projects that will encourage the development of ICT infrastructure and improve the availability of ICT services within Papua New Guinea, including in rural communities.