This section outlines the trends and options for improving access to, and construction of, broadband backbone networks as well as models for infrastructure sharing. These options include:
- Opening networks of monopoly or dominant operators to competition and wholesale service provision, as discussed in Section 3.4.1. Non-discriminatory access to incumbent networks in developing countries is vital. The enforcement of open access is a pre-requisite to further progress in network development and universal access (UA) even if requiring incumbent operators provide open access, or any access to wholesale customers, might deter some commercial investors during a privatization process. The extent to which investor discouragement would happen on a more general basis, is central to discussions in the EU about Next Generation Networks (NGNs) ;
- How Universal Access and Service Funds (UASFs) can enhance backbone network development, is described in Section 3.4.2. Until recently, backbone networks have not necessarily been considered part of a UA programme, but with the increased importance of broadband, the funding for backbone enhancement is now increasingly, and quite reasonably, expected to come from UASF resources.
- Emerging alternative network options, specially constituted network operators and network operators in a consortium, which are discussed in Section 3.4.3, Section 3.4.4 and Section 3.4.5; and
- Infrastructure sharing aims to extend networks to areas where service provision is commercially viable if several operators share the costs of infrastructure such as towers, is discussed in Section 3.4.6.
These options support UA and remove barriers to ICT development or market efficiency (See also Section 1.3.3
); Section 3.4.7
presents the funding options available for backbone initiatives.
- See Regulatory Principles of NGA (ERG, May 2007).