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January 14, 2008 - Professor Minoru Sugaya delivers his lecture to participants in the Pacific Islands, Honolulu and Tokyo by video teleconference

sugayaOn January 14, 2008 Professor Minoru Sugaya from Keio University provided a special guest lecture to the University of Hawaii Telecommunications and Information Resource Management (TIRM) Graduate class. His lecture entitled, “From Universal Service to Universal Access the development of Telecommunication Policy in Japan,” stimulated active discussion on the similarities and differences between the Japan and U.S. Universal Service Programs. The session was conducted by video teleconference through the PEACESAT and STAN networks. The session was open to the public and included participants from American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tokyo and Honolulu.

sugayaProfessor Sugaya provided a comprehensive history of the development of the telecommunication industry in Japan and the development of Universal Service and Policy. A major difference between U.S. and Japan’s Universal Service mechanism is that the U.S. system has four major programs covering high cost, low income, schools, libraries and rural health care facilities. Japan’s system provides subsides for telecommunication carriers that provide service in high cost areas. Support for telecommunication infrastructure and services for the education and health sectors are provided by other Japan government ministries.

Professor Sugaya has chaired the government study group that is looking at restructuring Japan’s Universal Service Program. He pointed out that a major issue at hand is the amount of the consumers’ contribution to the Universal Service fee. Japan’s Universal Service fund is approximately 15.3 Billion yen ($140,000,000 USD) per year. Consumers contribute to this fund 7 yen ($.07 US) per telephone per month. As the number of mobile and VOIP services increase, the cost of providing services in the high cost areas and the total deficit also increase. However consumer advocate groups strongly oppose any increase in consumer fees. In contrast the U.S. Universal Service Program distributes approximately $6.6 Billion USD per year. The average cost per consumer is $12 per telephone line per month.

sugayaThe changing environment of the telecommunication industry in terms of convergence strains the current Universal Service definitions for “payers” and “players” of the fund. In both countries the consideration of including cable television and VOIP providers as contributors to the fund is something to watch in the upcoming years.

Professor Minoru Sugaya is from the Institute for Media and Communications Research, Keio University, Japan.


Attending Dr. Sugaya's presentation at the TIPG/University of Hawaii conference room:

saga
kiyohara
Dr. Kenji Saga Head of PIDO,
Pacific Island Digital Opportunity, Special Committee Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund

Dr. Shoko Kiyohara Visiting Assistant Professor, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo, Japan
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