Universal Service in Telecommunications: A Case Study of New Zealand and Vietnam Legal and Institutional Frameworks, with Proposals for Reform in Vietnam
This thesis examines models for the delivery of telecommunications universal services in Vietnam and New Zealand. The focus is on identifying obstacles to effective and economically efficient performance of services delivery in Vietnam, and proposing solutions for substantial improvements to legal frameworks and institutional structures. The central argument of the thesis is that the universal service scheme in Vietnam and the supporting laws and agencies responsible for implementation of the scheme need to be improved in order to contribute to the achievement of social targets. The universal service funding mechanism in Vietnam, including the allocation of industry levies and subsidies, is not linked to real costs, nor is it efficient. The laws and legal instruments governing the universal service scheme are incomplete and in parts contradictory. Moreover, the institutional structures reflect diffuse and duplicated accountability among the authorities involved, lack of transparency, and insufficient external monitoring mechanisms. Performance information systems and involvement of the public and stakeholders are also insufficient. The insufficiencies in the Vietnamese structure are illustrated in the thesis by comparing them to the key elements of a best practice model. They are also compared with elements of the New Zealand model that reflect features closer to the best practice: transparency, effective monitoring and performance accountability. These features serve as a basis for the principal proposals for improvements to the legal framework and institutional structures in Vietnam and for economically efficient and competitive funding arrangements.