Clarification on the Universal Service Compensation Fund

  • The FCSU -  Fundo de Compensação do Serviço Universal (Universal Service Compensation Fund) for electronic communications was established by Law 35/2012 of 23 August1, in order to provide financing of the CLSU - Custos Líquidos do Serviço Universal (Net Costs of Universal Service). The fund is non-profit-making and has a balance only in the period intervening between the remittance of contributions to CLSU financing and their remittance to the undertakings which are responsible for universal service provision.
  • The purpose of all sums in the FCSU is to reimburse the universal service provider in respect of the CLSU, covering both the costs identified in the tenders to designate the universal service providers and also the CLSU incurred in the period prior to the designation of universal service providers by tender.
  • Currently, the universal service providers designated by public tender are:

a) NOS Comunicações - provision of access to the public communications network and provision of the publicly available telephone service through that connection (fixed telephone service), as from 1 June 2014; and

b) MEO - Serviços de Comunicações e Multimédia - provision of the public pay-telephone service, as from 9 April 2014, and provision of a comprehensive telephone directory service and comprehensive directory enquiries service, as from 14 September 2015.

  • Under the terms of the Lei do Fundo (Law Governing the Fund), ANACOM is responsible for performing all acts required for proper administration of the compensation fund; likewise, ANACOM is responsible for identifying the undertakings required to contribute to the FCSU and setting the precise value of these contributions.
  • The companies which provide the universal service (NOS and MEO), in addition to being reimbursed by the FCSU for the costs of providing it, are also contributors to the Fund.
  • Paragraph 2 of article 12 of the Lei do Fundo (Law Governing the Fund) sets out that ANACOM "may authorise the universal service provider or providers not to pay the respective contribution where the value of the compensation to which they are entitled exceeds the value of the contribution which they are required to pay, and in this case the amount of the compensation to be transferred to the universal service provider or providers shall be deducted from the value of the respective contributions."
  • The waiver in question does not mean that the company ceases to pay; it only means that the value it receives from the Fund will be subject to a deduction corresponding to the amount which it is required to pay into the Fund.
  • As a result of requests made by MEO and NOS, and in accordance with Law 35/2012, ANACOM has authorised these companies to withhold remittance of the value of their contributions (MEO: 24 million euros and NOS: 800 thousand euros), because the value they are due to receive (MEO: 48.8 million euros and NOS: 1.1 million euros) exceeds the value of their contributions,  All contributions actually paid in respect of the CLSU incurred by the providers were duly transferred from the Fund to the universal service providers (MEO and NOS).
  • NOS Comunicações, NOS Madeira, NOS Açores and VODAFONE did not concur with the solution provided for by law and expressed their intention to challenge the payment, presenting bank guarantees or collateral under legal terms; consequently, they did not pay contributions for the purpose of reimbursing the CLSU in respect of 2010-2011, as incurred in the period prior to designation of the universal service providers by tender2.
  • The amounts held in the fund were remitted to MEO and NOS in payment of the amounts due to them. It is not part of the fund's nature to accumulate resources; as such the fund tends to have a zero balance.
  • The only amount in the Fund as in December 2016 was 0.64 euros, corresponding to the value transferred by MEO as annual remuneration paid to the State in consideration of the universal service provision of telephone directories and a comprehensive telephone directory enquiry service, under the terms of a contract which the company concluded with the State in February 2014 (and which has been in force for a period of 18 months); Meanwhile, in 2017, there were contributions deposited in the FCSU which have since been transferred to the universal service provider.
1 Amended and republished by Law no. 149/2015 of 10 September.
2 Prior to performance of the tenders to select the companies which currently perform the universal service, the service was provided by PT Comunicações, S.A., currently MEO.