Definition of public policies for the universalisation of digital services in Costa Rica

Project executed on behalf of Costa Rican Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SUTEL)

Project Objective

The Universal Service Fund in Costa Rica (Fondo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones-FONATEL) necessitated a definition and prioritization of specific public policies to ensure the universalization of digital services in Costa Rica.

Project Description

Axon defined a specific framework for evaluating service universalization, referred to as “4xA – ADOPTION = AWARENESS (digital) x AFFORDABILITY x AVAILABILITY”.

Figure 1: 4xA framework for evaluating service universalization

Axon defined a technology-neutral (copper, fiber, satellite, 3G, 4G, etc.) techno-economic model for assessing the universalization needs of Costa Rica, dividing the country in +400 districts.

Figure 2: Illustrative examples of the techno-economic modelling exercise

Axon took the analytical results extracted from the techno-economic model and implemented the universalization evaluation framework to identify the main gaps/needs in terms of accessibility, affordability and alphabetization within each of the different districts defined in Costa Rica.

Figure 3: Overview of the identified digital gaps

With these results, Axon supported FONATEL in identifying and prioritizing public policy actions (direct funding, supporting of operators, specific community support, etc.) to ensure the optimal distribution of USD 200 mn committed by the government.

Key Takeaways

As result of the Project, FONATEL was able to rely on:

  • A list of detailed actions/policies to be implemented in different regions of Costa Rica, including a reference figure for the amounts needed to close the various gaps identified in each of these territories.
  • Sound evidence of the advantages of the Universal Affordability Program launched at the time (“Hogares conectados”), gained through implementation of the framework we developed for evaluating the benefits of the program. The latter turned out to be a “success case”, as it was awarded the 2016 “Access to information and knowledge” price by the ‘World Summit on the Information Society’.