Table of Contents

  • We are pleased to present the 11th annual edition of Trends in Telecommunication Reform. Each year, this publication aims to take stock of telecommunications and information technology developments around the world and to draw particular attention to a key theme in the regulation of information and communications technologies (ICTs). As with past editions, the theme of this year’s Trends “Enabling Tomorrow’s Digital World” derives from an important meeting, the Global Symposium for Regulators, held in November 2010 in Dakar, Senegal. This report centres on the changing nature of ICT regulation in the 21st century. We examine ICT regulation against the backdrop of the diffusion of ICTs into virtually all aspects of society and the importance of ICTs for social, political, and economic development.

  • The digital world is growing at an ever-accelerating rate. Each quarter brings fresh bulletins of higher traffic estimates, increased handset shipments, sudden shifts in market share and spiralling valuations for major and emerging content players. The telecommunication/ICT industry has not just survived the aftermath of the financial crisis – it has emerged more innovative and agile. Such growth in applications and content can only be achieved based on foundations of sound policies, a stable and enabling regulatory environment and cooperation between governments, regulators and the industry.

  • The diffusion of broadband, defined as the technology that enables high speed transfer of data, is inextricably linked to the emergence of the Internet. While at its initial stages the Internet was primarily accessed through dial-up means, consumer and enterprise demand prompted the development of technologies that facilitated access at higher speeds. As a result, starting around the mid-1990s, telecommunications and cable TV companies began offering services that significantly enhanced the experience of Internet use. Investment in and adoption of broadband soared around the world. Between 2004 and 2010, telecommunications and cable TV companies in the United States invested over 97.7 billion dollars in broadband deployment. Chinese companies have invested US dollars 7.44 billion in broadband since 2009, while Malaysian operators invested US dollars 1.6 billion since 2009.

  • In this second decade of the 21st century, our focus is on the deployment of broadband and, more importantly, on broadband’s transformative power as an enabler for economic and social growth in the digital economy. In turn, increased adoption and use of ICTs in the next decade and beyond will be driven by the extent to which broadband-supported services and applications are not only made available to, but are also relevant and affordable for consumers.

  • Readers of this chapter will be well aware that the ICT sector worldwide has been undergoing major liberalization and unbundling over the last quarter of a century. They may be less aware that the field of dispute resolution has undergone a similar transformation, though in certain respects over a longer period. Where these two trends meet, numerous opportunities open up. The ICT sector is increasingly exploiting skills and experience in, and methods of, liberalized and unbundled dispute resolution and in doing so, improving the way disputes are resolved. Some of the most proactive in seizing these opportunities are developing countries, often due to pressure on officials to resolve disputes expeditiously with inadequate resources.

  • This chapter aims to inform policy makers and regulators about spectrum management issues related to the digital switchover and the Digital Dividend. The chapter includes a summary of policies, best practices and progress being made in implementing change in regions around the globe. Among other things, the chapter serves to demonstrate and recommend current and possibly new pathways for resolving outstanding issues related to the Digital Dividend.

  • In many countries around the world, information and communication technology (ICT) in all its forms has become a critical driver for growth and innovation. Breakthroughs in the development of ICTs and the innovative use of these technologies and applications play a pivotal role in helping governments respond to a number of unprecedented challenges, ranging from improving healthcare and education to addressing climate change to dealing with natural disasters. In this regard it is necessary to highlight that in many ways, societies have become highly dependent on ICTs. With the growth in the number of private users and businesses relying on ICTs for the functioning of their everyday lives, ICTs should be seen as a critical part of national infrastructures. This growing dependence on ICTs represents a major potential vulnerability as even brief interruptions to ICT-based services can cause significant economic or social damage. As a result, as countries’ reliance on ICTs increases, there is a growing awareness that cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime must be taken more seriously. Given the link between ICTs and political, social, and economic growth, cybersecurity and cybercrime are now being considered as an important element in national development agendas. Drawing on the experiences of both developed and developing countries, this chapter underlines some of the major challenges and considerations.

  • This chapter discusses the relationship between climate change and the ICT sector, with a specific focus on telecommunications. The chapter considers the special relationship between ICTs and climate change as the context for exploring whether the nature of the relationship ought to include a special role for regulators. Specifically, the chapter considers whether the nature of the special position between ICT players and climate change suggests that ICT sector regulators, specifically those in charge of regulating telecommunications service providers (TSPs), should have a more active role in environmental protection and should consider climate change issues when making decisions concerning TSPs. The status quo ante represents the converse position, namely that decisions relating to climate change should be left to general laws and regulations that apply to other companies, organizations and individuals.

  • For nearly two decades, the world has been awaiting the arrival of the Information Society. Agencies and bureaus have been named after it. Programmes have been formed and funded to bring it about. So, how will we know when the long-anticipated Information Society has arrived? What will it look like when it gets here?

  • This 11th Edition of Trends in Telecommunication Reform has explored one of the most significant and important trends of the past ten years: the diffusion of ICTs into virtually all aspects of society. From the perspective of regulating and managing the ICT sector, two broad themes emerge from the discussions in this Report: first, the ubiquity of ICTs in almost all dimensions of society and, second, the important role of telecom/ICT regulators in the digital information society.