Regulatory Implications of Telecommunications Convergence

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This Briefing Report of the Sixth Colloquium assesses the challenges and opportunities confronting regulators that arise from the rapid convergence of telecommunications technologies and markets. Spurred by dramatic technical developments, such as high-speed digital telephony, cable television, wireless technologies, and the Internet, the lines between traditional common carrier telephone ("conduit") services and broadcast-based information and entertainment ("content") services are becoming increasingly blurred. These trends are compelling regulators to re-examine many of the fundamental policies and institutional structures whose goals are to guide telecommunications industry evolution for the benefit of society. The Regulatory Colloquium itself and the preparation of the Briefing Report were funded by the World Bank and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The principal author is Mr. David Townsend. The views expressed are those of the author alone.



Regulatory challenges of convergence

Communication is a process, fundamentally a means to other ends. In the social world, communication serves to inform, to entertain, to share experience, to teach. Telecommunications networks and services provide the capability to perform these actions across vast distances and among vast communities of users, but it is the content of the communication that matters, not the process. In the economic world, telecommunications distributes information across suppliers, customers, researchers, developers, analysts, lawmakers, regulators. Telecommunications is an input to economic production processes, an integral (or at least helpful) component of virtually every contemporary business activity, which results in end products and services that are ultimately consumed.


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