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The ‘new ladder’ of tech regulation

Ross Storey | May 18, 2011
A key United Nations body has put world governments on notice about how crucial is information and communications technology (ICT), to every country’s economic, social and political growth.

A key new report– by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations body responsible for ICT policy – certainly pulls no punches in its best practice recommendations to global governments about ICT regulation.

It says “broadband access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity”, and stresses the need for “proactive national broadband planning by every government”.

The report says global governments need to “stimulate nationwide broadband deployments through adaptive and targeted regulations and out-of-the-box tools, leading to a new ladder of regulation”.

The ITU report ‘Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2010-2011’, released in March, says “the advent of high-speed networks, and new kinds of content, also puts emphasis on the importance of the role of government and ICT regulators, in stimulating the demand for broadband and in the promotion of investment in infrastructure”.

“Resolving disputes expeditiously in a competitive, complex and converged environment is another challenge for regulators,” the report states.

Adapting structures
The ITU says that, for markets to truly thrive, regulators need to “prove successful in keeping up with the pace of convergence and integration of ubiquitous networks, in particular through adapting their institutional structure and mandate, adopting cutting-edge best practices and embracing new tools such as innovative dispute resolution techniques”.

The report maintains that, at the beginning of 2011, more than 80 per cent of markets worldwide, have separate ICT regulatory agencies, a total of 158 ICT regulators worldwide – up from 106 just one decade ago.


It concludes that ICT markets around the world are becoming more competitive in just about every respect, from international gateway services to wireless local loop and 3G.

“In 2010, more than 93 per cent of countries worldwide allowed competition in the provision of Internet services, and 90 per cent in the provision of mobile cellular services.

A further 92 per cent have competitive 3G mobile broadband markets,” the report said.

And this landmark report also highlights some amazing mobility statistics. It says that, worldwide, mobile cellular subscriptions now total more than 5.3 billion, including 940 million subscriptions to mobile broadband services – a figure which is expected to reach one billion before mid-2011.

Mobile access
“Access to mobile networks is now available to 90 per cent of the world’s population overall,” the report says. “Of people living in rural areas, 80 per cent now have mobile cellular coverage.”

According to the ITU, “ICTs are truly at the heart of everything we do”.

ITU secretary-general Dr Hamadoun Touré says technology is reshaping the lives of everyone – even those who still lack direct access themselves.”

 

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