Table of Contents

  • Market Trends and Perspectives. Electronic Commerce is a new term for old activities being done in new ways. As long as communications networks have been around, they have always been used to their fullest capability by entrepreneurs to create business opportunities. As advanced telecommunications and computer technologies have taken hold in recent years, they have moved to the center of the international economic infrastructure. Most prominently, the meteoric rise of the Internet and the World Wide Web has accelerated the transformation of global commerce, allowing for instantaneous, inexpensive contact among sellers, buyers, investors, advertisers and financiers anywhere in the world. The rapid integration of Internet and other telecommunications-based functions into nearly every sphere of business is what has given rise to the recent international focus on the new world of electronic commerce.

  • This Briefing Report has been prepared by David N. Townsend &mediaamp; Associates (DNTA) in connection with the eighth ITU Regulatory Colloquium, held 14-16 December 1998 in Geneva, under the sponsorship of the International Telecommunication Union and with funding provided by the World Bank's Information for Development (/nfoDev) program.

  • The purpose of this section is to provide some background and context on the technological and market trends that encompass the phenomenon of electronic commerce, the particular concerns it raises for developing countries, and the role of telecommunications regulation in supporting e-commerce opportunities, especially in the developing world. There are many ways to look at electronic commerce, and many people are looking these days. This Colloquium and this Briefing Report view the issues from the perspectives described here.

  • In recent years, telecommunications policy and regulation issues have often been limited to the periphery of various international conferences and position papers on the development of global electronic commerce. The principal emphasis of international deliberations and negotiations involves a wide range of other issues, in the areas of commercial, legal, technical, and social norms, that can affect the viability and effectiveness of electronic commerce on many levels. In part, this emphasis appears to reflect a bias of the participants in most recent policy symposia: mainly representatives of large, well developed economies, in which telecommunications infrastructure is highly advanced and widely available, and regulatory reforms are typically well under way.