Table of Contents

  • We are proud to present the seventh edition of Trends in Telecommunication Reform, an integral part of our dialogue with the world’s information and communications technology (ICT) policy-makers and regulators. This 7th edition has been released at a time of remarkable transformation of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, fuelled by a combination of technological, market, policy and regulatory developments. These changes include unparalleled numbers of voice telephone subscribers, the rise of IP-enabled networks and Voice over IP (VoIP) services, initial-yet promisingdeployment of fixed line broadband and broadband wireless access (BWA) services and intelligent radio devices. At the same time that developed countries are busy planning for the deployment of next generation networks and visualize a world of ubiquitous networks, most developing countries have expanded their continuing quest to provide universal access to basic voice services to include universal access to broadband internet services. Are developing countries making any progress in this quest? How can regulators harness the potential of new technologies and innovative business models to foster ICT sector development?

  • Bringing broadband to the masses is one of the major challenges facing the global ICT community. Addressing this challenge requires new thinking, and an end to business as usual. The 7th edition of Trends in Telecommunication Reform is designed to enable regulators and policy-makers to meet this challenge.

  • Each wave of technological development offers new promise in the battle to bridge the Digital Divide. Most new technologies are cheaper to deploy than legacy copper networks, and at the same time, they can deliver a full range of ICT services, from voice to broadband applications and services. Many new technologies can also be deployed incrementally, even locally, rather than on the large scale of traditional tele com mu ni cation networks.

  • Previous chapters have explored the promising landscape of new broadband opportunities that is emerging as waves of innovation reshape the ICT sector. These innovations are occurring across all aspects of the industry, from technological developments and business models to regulatory and policy frameworks, creating broadband opportunities for end users, large-scale network operators, small entrepreneurs, local communities and governments alike. New broadband opportunities require a new vision by potential broadband providers, and a new paradigm for policy-makers and regulators. Broadband is completely transforming the ICT sector. Put simply, broadband cannot be treated as “business as usual.”

  • This chapter discusses the challenges spectrum regulators face in allocating and assigning spectrum for broadband wireless access (BWA) and other wireless services. The main challenge is to provide for flexible, market-oriented spectrum licence rights, which can create a positive investment climate for BWA services. At the same time, regulators want to discourage uneconomic hoarding and speculation in spectrum, which could delay the rollout of services to consumers.

  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service is often viewed as a “disruptive technology,” meaning that it has the potential to drastically alter the status quo in the global tele com mu nication industry. In fact, all of the current market indications show that IP networks and VoIP services will replace traditional PSTN networks and services. ITU expects that by 2008, at least 50 per cent of international minutes will be carried on IP networks, and many carriers will have all-IP networks. Recent trends are certainly headed in this direction. For example, in the United States, residential VoIP subscriber numbers rose from 150,000 at the end of 2003 to more than 2 million in March 2005. U.S. subscribership is expected to exceed 4.1 million by the end of 2006, generating over USD 1 billion in gross revenues for the year.

  • The anti-spam laws enacted around the world so far have been largely unsuccessful in stopping spam. In almost every instance, anti-spam statutes have been directed at sanctioning spammers for their bad acts. An increasing number of countries and other jurisdictions have created such laws or applied to spam their existing, generally applicable laws concerning data protection, consumer protection, and protection against fraud. Yet, in many cases, these laws have missed their target entirely, with no perceptible impact on actual spammers. Even worse, the laws have often had negative side effects, in the form of transaction costs, ad min is trative costs, and a chilling effect on legitimate senders of e-mail.

  • Regulators and policy-makers view the advent of broadband networks and services as both a challenge and an opportunity. What, really, is “broadband”? To the layman, it often translates as “fast internet access.” But as the edition of Trends has illustrated, the broadband revolution is a multi-layered phenomenon, with technological, economic and social aspects that will become more apparent as this decade wears on. One thing is clear: broadband is not a passing phase or a high-end niche market. It is literally the future of tele com mu ni cations. Policy-makers and regulators around the world will have to come to grips with it and learn to exploit its opportunities – in other words, learn how to make broadband work for all.