With the wide-ranging changes in the telecom area internationally, the international organizational structure has also changed considerably. In the former system of national monopoly operators, the international relationships were of a correspondent character with ITU as the international organization in which not only recommendations for standards were elaborated but also agreements were reached on the basis of which international tariffs were bi-nationally agreed (the accounting rate system). Currently, the organizational ‘picture’ is much more complex. In the standards area, a host of international industry consortia have been created; Internet has its own set of organizations centered on the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering task Force (IETF); and, WTO has also played a role, especially in the 1990s in relation to the Uruguay Round of negotiations. In this ‘picture’, the influence of developing countries is relatively small. Under the former system, it was also the stronger nations and players that dominated international relations, but the present multi-faceted and complex system is even more difficult for developing countries to influence.
A case in point is ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is a California-based non-profit corporation, contracted by the US Government to assume responsibility for space allocation of IP addresses, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management and root server system management. User representation in ICANN is continuously being discussed and was actually reduced in 2002. The discussion on user and public representation is not especially related to developing countries. There are, however, different developing countries that have protested against the US centric character of the management of the Internet, among them China and Iran. Furthermore, the European Union has also been critical of the manner in which the Internet is managed presently. The main criticism is that ICANN should be brought under the rule of some kind of international law, as ICANN is an international regulatory organization in the Internet area. The counter argument is that this could risk making procedures more bureaucratic and that there is a danger that countries wanting to censure content on the Internet would gain influence. The present result of these discussions is a decision from November 2005 to establish an Intergovernmental Forum to discuss all Internet issues but to retain the arrangement with ICANN as an organization based on a contract with the US Government and under the Californian law.
The ICANN construction and the root server system that it manages is a clear example of the difficulties for public organizations to gain influence on Internet developments. From a developing country point of view, the Internet is very US centric with 10 of all 13 root file servers on a global scale located in the US and Internet traffic centered very much on the US. There are good historical reasons for this, but it nevertheless illustrates the difficulties for developing countries and their regulatory organizations to gain influence on communication developments, which are vital also for them.
One of the implications of this is that, while interconnection principles for international PSTN traffic dictate each side involved in a transaction to pay for a half circuit, the arrangement in Internet traffic is that the country or region wanting to connect to another country or region must pay the full costs. This situation makes African Internet backbone operators, for instance, subsidize the connectivity costs for international backbone providers to the extent that the current burden of paying international bandwidth costs by African operators are estimated to cost the continent between $250 and $500 million a year.
A further point to be mentioned is that when operators become international in the sense that they own communication infrastructures in different countries, their bargaining position in relation to national regulators will strengthen. This phenomenon applies to most countries but will apply specifically to economically weaker countries. All in all, the challenges for regulatory organizations to act in an increasingly international communications environment are significant, taking the shifting relations between national and international aspects of electronic communications into consideration. One way of dealing with this development is to improve the cooperation between regulatory agencies in different regional contexts and internationally. In the southern part of Africa, there is such cooperation in TRASA (Telecommunications Regulators of Southern Africa). The same applies to Latin America with Regulatel (Foro Latinoamericano de Entes Reguladores de Telecomunicaciones). This kind of south-south cooperation is one of the ways forward alongside working for the improvement of the influence on the different kinds of international organizations.
 See sub-section on standardisation in the present study.
 This has, for instance been pointed out by Richard Hawkins, Robin Mansell and Edward Steinmueller: ‘Liberalization and the Process and Implications of Standardization’, in Robin Mansell and Edward Steinmueller: ‘Mobilizing the Information Society’, Oxford University Press, 2002.
 For an elaborate introduction to ICANN, see Milton Mueller: ´Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace’, The MIT Press, 2002.
 At a public ICANN meting in Accra Ghana in 2002 it was decided to reduce direct user participation. See Hans Klein: ‘ICANN Reform: Establishing the Rule of Law’, a policy analysis prepared for The World Summit on the Information Society, Tunis, 16-18 November 2005, Internet & Public Policy Project, Georgia Institute of technology.
 This case is well presented in the policy analysis by Hans Klein: Op.cit.