Table of Contents

  • The digital world of the 21st Century offers a world of opportunities through apps and services in the fields of e-governance, telemedicine, mobile banking and online education. ICTs help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by opening doors to economic growth, socio-economic development and vast improvements in the lives of individuals and communities. To realize the full potential of the digital economy, policy-makers and regulators have a key role to play in building policy and regulatory environments in which new technologies can flourish. That is why this 16th annual edition of Trends in Telecommunication Reform focuses on the theme of “exploring regulatory incentives to achieve digital opportunities.” I believe the theme upholds the ultimate goal of regulators: serving our citizens. This edition is a compilation of discussion papers presented at the 2015 edition of the ITU flagship event, the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) and seeks to explore ways to ensure that citizens can benefit from economic and social opportunities brought about by the digital economy, recognizing that for digital opportunities to fully materialize, an adaptive, consultative and innovative approach to policy and regulation is needed, more than ever before.

  • This chapter identifies strategies that private and public investors have implemented to support deployments of broadband infrastructure and greater access to the digital economy. Based on a review of investment cases from around the world, this chapter identifies best-practice investment strategies and variations from different regions and service markets. It also identifies key lessons for governments, regulators and investors to stimulate investment in broadband networks.

  • Governments around the world recognize that there are substantial societal benefits in deploying new broadband networks and services – for example, 4G wireless networks and fibre transmission lines. And many governments feel that current investment levels are insufficient.

  • Plummeting electronics and communication costs have set the stage for a rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). The billions of everyday physical items and appliances that now have sensors and network links will increasingly be able to remotely share data about themselves, their users and their environments. In the next decade, technology companies and consulting firms expect tens of billions of IoT devices to be deployed, with a total annual economic impact in the trillions of US dollars.

  • Large parts of the world are now interconnected as never before. People stay in touch with far-away family and friends for little cost. They learn about news instantly, access knowledge remotely, collaborate more efficiently, and conduct every manner of business online. The most complex systems—government agencies, financial institutions, transportation infrastructures, health care and energy systems—are linked by new, ubiquitous information media, which are essential components of today’s global economy. But as interconnected as things currently are, they will grow dramatically more so with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT).

  • We are living in the midst of a social, economic, and technological revolution. How we communicate, learn, socialize and conduct business has moved beyond the narrow confines of language and geographical proximity and onto the Internet. The Internet has, in turn, moved into our phones, laptops, homes and cities, and it continues to wield profound influence on civic, commercial and social engagement in society.

  • Midway through the 2010s, evidence points strongly to the potential for a global take-off of mobile broadband services, bringing with it expanded access to the Internet and the Digital Economy. ITU statistics indicate that the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions worldwide is approaching the number of people on Earth, which is estimated at above 7 billion -- up from just 738 million in 2000. This corresponds to a global mobile service penetration rate of 97 per cent. Meanwhile, an estimated 3.2 billion people globally are using the Internet, of which 2 billion are from developing countries.