The concept Next Generation Networks (NGN) is used in two very distinctly different ways: 1) A broad concept encompassing the whole development of new network technologies, new access infrastructures and even new services, and 2) A focused concept of specific network architecture and related equipment, with one common IP core network deployed for the entire legacy, current and future access networks. ITU defines NGN as: “a packet-based network able to provide telecommunication services and able to make use of multiple broadband, QoS-enabled transport technologies and in which service-related functions are independent from underlying transport related technologies. It enables unfettered access for users to networks and to competing service providers and/or services of their choice. It supports generalized mobility which will allow consistent and ubiquitous provision of services to users”.
The first definition is a very broad descriptive reference covering all the current network technology trends. The second definition relates more precisely to the transition path towards a converged IP based core and access network. In the ITU definition there is a major emphasis on one of the main characteristics of IP platforms, namely the separation of network and service layers. The regulatory issues identified below arise from the implications of the specific technological changes in the NGN that will require a reassessment of how some traditional areas of regulation can best be implemented in the new environment.
- Interconnection: The deployment of NGN networks will create a demand for new types of interconnection products offering interconnecting packet switched services. These include interconnection between different types of networks and new types of unbundled network components. Separation of network facilities and service facilities will eventually allow for a complete separation of network and service interconnection. Measuring interconnection requirements in terms of minutes of traffic and leased lines will need to be replaced by measures of communication capacity, e.g. gigabits to facilitate efficiency. Regulators will need to foster this transition.
- Licensing: Effective competition among different infrastructures offering NGN requires a technology neutral licensing regime. Unified licensing will stimulate optimal use of technology options by operators and should be implemented at the earliest opportunity
- Universal service: Most universal service funding schemes will be rendered obsolete by the NGN. There will be a need to reformulate universal service obligations from being an obligation to offer a particular service (e.g. public voice) to an obligation to offer network access with a specified minimum capacity and quality. Subsidy schemes for financing universal access/service will have to be carefully designed so as not to distort market incentives to extend networks. Where subsidies are needed, competitive bidding for subsidies has been shown to be an effective way to maximize network development for minimum subsidy costs.
- Sector specific regulation: With networks carrying all kinds of services, both distributional (broadcast) and communicational, telecom sector specific regulation is becoming increasingly obsolete. In many countries, the regulation of telecom networks has therefore been extended to include all kinds of communication networks. NGN put this issue acutely on the agenda. Policy makers must establish a comprehensive convergence regulation framework for regulation to be effective.
- Infrastructure vs. service competition: The deployment of NGN involves an increasing separation between the core infrastructure and the services provided over it. There can be increased market entry possibilities for new service providers in all countries if regulators permit it, as the barriers to market entry are low. Infrastructure competition is more difficult given the large-scale investment requirements, but it can still be an effective force, stimulating network and services development in most countries. Regulation will affect the specific manner in which NGN is implemented and regulators should use this opportunity to foster expanded participation in the sector.
- QoS: As the NGN is based on Internet protocol, traditional QoS issues migrate from the former circuit-switched related issues to Internet-related QoS issues. It will be important for regulators to monitor QoS on the NGN with a view to ensuring that consumers understand the QoS associated with different service offerings, and consumer interests are protected.
 GLOBAL INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE, INTERNET PROTOCOL ASPECTS AND NEXT-GENERATION NETWORKS ITU-T Recommendation Y.2001
Next Generation Networks (NGN)
Regulatory implications from NGN
Sector specific and/or general competition regulation
Infrastructure vs. service competition
Quality of service