The Telecommunications Development Fund (TDF) is a financial instrument that belongs to the Government of Chile that aims to promote the coverage of telecommunications services in low-income rural or urban areas, with low or no availability of these services due to the economic unfeasibility of being served by the national telecommunications industry.
In this way, it makes it possible for those citizens who are isolated by geographical or technological reasons, to have access to these telecommunications services under the same conditions of price and quality as the regional capitals, thus helping to break the digital breach.
This Fund does not directly execute the projects it designs, but it allows companies and institutions to participate in public tenders as long as they satisfy the conditions and obligations detailed in the bases of these tenders. Through this mechanism, the successful bidder is provided with the necessary resources to sustain these efforts over time.
The Telecommunications Development Fund is regulated by the following legal instruments:
- Law N° 18.168 of 1982 “General Telecommunications Law”, amended in 1994 with the enactment of Title IV of the Telecommunications Development Fund.
- Law N° 20,522 of 2011 “Modifying Law N° 18,168, Creating the Telecommunications Development Fund”.
- Decree N° 353 of 2001 “Approves Regulations of the Telecommunications Development Fund”.
- Resolution N° 2614 Exempt of 2011 “Instructions for the Presentation of Financial Projects in the Framework of the Public Competitions of the Telecommunications Development Fund”.
- National Budget Law, which establishes the annual amount of resources available to finance subsidies.
2.- Structure and financing
The Fund depends on the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications and it’s administered by the Telecommunications Development Council. Amongst its functions, the Council is responsible of defining and approving the guidelines for evaluating projects; establishing the Annual Program of Subsidizable or Tenderable Projects; and to assign, through a public tender, the projects and subsidies for their execution.
As for its financing, the Fund shall be constituted by the contributions assigned to it annually by the Public Sector Budget Law, nonetheless it may receive other contributions.
3.- Annual Program of Tenderable Projects
Each year, the Telecommunications Development Council prepares the Annual Program of Tenderable Projects on the basis of the specific requests it receives for telecommunication projects. This Program shall consider the following types of projects:
- Projects for public telephones or call centres;
- Community information telecentres;
- Free reception telecommunications services or local broadcasting services. These transmissions are intended for free and direct reception by the general public, whether it’s sound, open or limited television, or other types of broadcasting, especially broadcasting services with minimal coverage; and
- Any other telecommunication service that directly benefits the community in which it will operate.
4.- Procedure and award of the Projects
First, a specific project application must be submitted to the Undersecretariat of Telecommunications until June of each year. Following this, the Undersecretariat carries out a technical-economic evaluation of the project in order to estimate its costs and technical feasibility, considering criteria such as number of potential beneficiaries, isolation index, socioeconomic status of the population to be benefited in order to determine their social priorities.
Then, with the information received and available, the Undersecretariat will prepare a preliminary program of subsidy or tender projects, which will form part of the budget request to be submitted by the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications to the Budget Directorate of the Ministry of Finance.
Once the resources available to the Fund have been allocated, the Telecommunications Development Council shall be convened to establish the Annual Program of Subsidizable or Tenderable Projects, their priorities and the subsidies for their execution. The program may be complemented with telecommunications projects that are financed, totally or partially, with other contributions than those established in the Budget Law.
Finally, the Council shall issue invitations to tender by means of notices published in the Official Journal. Once the proposals have been evaluated by the Undersecretariat, the Board will assign the projects and, as the case may be, their respective subsidies to the applicants whose proposals, complying with the rules of the competition, require the minimum subsidy.
5.- Concessions, Permits or Licenses
Once it is assigned the project, the Council shall forward the relevant information to the Undersecretariat, the one that will have to process the concessions, permits or licenses, as applicable.
6.- Current Public Tenders for 2019
a/ “Fibra Óptica Austral”, Troncales Terrestres Aysén y Los Lagos. (Code: FDT-2018-02)
Its aim is to outlay the necessary infrastructure throughout two independent projects, associated to two Optical Backbone Infraestructure in the Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Los Lagos regions. This infrastructure must be installed in national territory, and be operated and exploited with open and non-discriminatory conditions.
b/ “Sistemas de Transmisión para la Implementación de la Televisión Digital Terrestre” (Code: FDT-2017-02-ST)
Aims to implement Digital Television in areas that are currently supplied by Analogical Television. It seeks to support the technological transformation process from analogic to digital technology, promoting free reception telecommunications services with regional or local coverage.