Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011

SCHEDULE 4

Guidance on Calculating the net cost, if any, of Universal Service

Part A: Definition of the universal service obligations.

Universal service obligations refer to the obligations referred to in Article 3 placed upon a postal service provider by a Member State which concern the provision of a postal service throughout a specified geographical area, including, where required, uniform prices in that geographical area for the provision of that service or provision of certain free services for blind and partially-sighted persons.

Those obligations may include, among others, the following:

— a number of days of delivery, superior to those set in this Directive,

— accessibility to access points, in order to satisfy the universal service obligations,

— the tariffs affordability of the universal service,

— uniform prices for universal service,

— the provision of certain free services for blind and partially-sighted persons.

Part B: Calculation of net cost.

National regulatory authorities are to consider all means to ensure appropriate incentives for postal service providers (designated or not) to provide universal service obligations cost efficiently.

The net cost of universal service obligations is any cost related to and necessary for the operation of the universal service provision. The net cost of universal service obligations is to be calculated, as the difference between the net cost for a designated universal service provider of operating with the universal service obligations and the same postal service provider operating without the universal service obligations.

The calculation shall take into account all other relevant elements, including any intangible and market benefits which accrue to a postal service provider designated to provide universal service, the entitlement to a reasonable profit and incentives for cost efficiency.

Due attention is to be given to correctly assessing the costs that any designated universal service provider would have chosen to avoid, had there been no universal service obligation. The net cost calculation should assess the benefits, including intangible benefits, to the universal service provider.

The calculation is to be based upon the costs attributable to:

(i) elements of the identified services which can only be provided at a loss or provided under cost conditions falling outside normal commercial standards. This category may include service elements such as the services defined in Part A;

(ii) specific users or groups of users who, taking into account the cost of providing the specified service, the revenue generated and any uniform prices imposed by the Member State, can only be served at a loss or under cost conditions falling outside normal commercial standards.

This category includes those users or groups of users that would not be served by a commercial operator that did not have an obligation to provide universal service.

The calculation of the net cost of specific aspects of universal service obligations is to be made separately and so as to avoid the double counting of any direct or indirect benefits and costs. The overall net cost of universal service obligations to any designated universal service provider is to be calculated as the sum of the net costs arising from the specific components of universal service obligations, taking account of any intangible benefits. The responsibility for verifying the net cost lies with the national regulatory authority. The universal service provider( s) shall cooperate with the national regulatory authority to enable it to verify the net cost.

Part C: Recovery of any net costs of universal service obligations.

The recovery or financing of any net costs of universal service obligations may require designated universal service providers to be compensated for the services that they provide under non-commercial conditions. As such compensation involves financial transfers, Member States have to ensure that they are undertaken in an objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate manner. This means that the transfers result as far as possible in the least distortion to competition and to user demand.

A sharing mechanism based on a fund referred to in Article 7(4) should use a transparent and neutral mechanism for collecting contributions that avoids a double imposition of contributions falling on both outputs and inputs of undertakings.

The independent body administering the fund is to be responsible for collecting contributions from undertakings which are assessed as liable to contribute to the net cost of universal service obligations in the Member State and is to oversee the transfer of sums due to the undertakings entitled to receive payments from the fund.