This module of the ICT Regulation Toolkit was updated in 2011. A prominent theme is digitisation which represents the most significant change to communications in a century, with fundamental implications for both fixed and mobile networks. This revised module puts these changes in context and explains what they mean for regulators and industry players.
Overview: Putting ICT Regulation in Context
This section discusses the regulatory challenges and opportunities facing all telecoms regulators. Special attention is paid to developing countries but the changes in technology and markets affect all regulators. The critical change is the transition to IP data networks which has separated carriage from content and allowed ‘over-the-top’ content and applications providers to deal directly with end users over networks whose owners and operators are excluded from these transactions. This section also discusses how policy and regulation intersect in the context of differences between countries and as a result of changes in technology and markets.
This section discusses the prevention of anti-competitive conduct. Regulatory approaches and concepts are discussed (including ‘net neutrality’). Common forms of anti-competitive conduct are explained with remedies available and case studies.
Access to Customers and Facilities
Interconnection is a key issue for regulators. The concept of ‘open access’ has evolved as changes in technology led to different competitive business models. The transition from switched to IP interconnection has changed how open access can be made available. This section also deals with infrastructure sharing as cooperative form of access.
Regulating Access Prices
The heart of regulation is regulating access prices. It is the key to new entrant business models. The previous section warned of regulatory over-reach on mandating access services because not all inputs are essential, bottle-neck input services - so making them available will deter new investment. This section alerts regulators to how access pricing can also shape competition. This section also deals with cost models and regulatory accounting.
Regulating ‘Over-the-Top’ Services
Internet telephony, or ‘Voice over the Internet Protocol’ (VoIP), is the first ‘over-the-top’ service with major implications for the business models of both fixed and mobile network operators. VoIP is still a key issue for incumbents and makes early concepts such as call-selection obsolete. Network operators also have to deal not only with erosion of traditional revenues but also increased traffic caused by third-party applications carried over their networks simply as data.
Mobile and Wireless Network Regulation
Many conduct and access regulation issues are covered in other sections of this module. So the focus of this section is on issues unique to mobile and wireless access networks.
Regulating Retail Prices
Before competition, price regulation was needed to correct monopolistic tendencies (i.e. restricting output and holding up prices) by the incumbent. With competition, the regulatory focus shifts from regulating retail prices to access prices and maybe neither (e.g. if there is effective infrastructure competition); but not both. However, in the transition to competition, many countries have kept some retail price controls to manage the price rebalancing that comes with the transition from monopoly to competition.