For several weeks now, I have been parsing through websites and academic papers trying to understand the available literature on telecommunication policy.   An earlier post on O3b referenced the International Telecommunication Union meeting in Tonga.

One of the outcomes from this meeting was a direction for ‘officials to work toward establishing a shared regulator resource centre at the earliest possible date.’

From its founding, this has been exactly the goal for this blog, to be a resource for everyone in the region to better understand how ICT  and telecommunications liberalization impacts the lives of those living in the Pacific.

In true Pacific fashion, island nations have shown up late for the telecommunications liberalization party.  This is regrettable, but it presents us with the opportunity to study how liberalization has fared in other countries in the world.  In the literature on development, this is referred to as the benefit of being a latecomer.

Of course, it’s only a benefit if we learn the right lessons, make the appropriate comparisons, and take the necessary steps to avoid pitfalls faced by other nations who attempted to bring about change to their telecommunications sector.

Read about telecommunications policy and failures of liberalization in South Africa, as well as challenges faced by small economies, particularly relevant for the small island states of the Pacific.

There is an overwhelming amount of information that is available on this topic from online sources.

Click above image to view table of contents for ITUs ICT Regulation Toolkit

Click above image to view table of contents for ITU's ICT Regulation Toolkit

The plan is to have this become the first in a series of posts that will examine issues of telecommunications policy pertaining to liberalization and regulation.

To get a better understanding, it’s helpful  for us to develop a  road map to better put into perspective the many issues of concern.  For our needs, the framework of analysis is offered in Section 2.4 of the ICT Regulation Toolkit, which outlines responsibilities of a good regulatory body:

  • implementating the authorization framework that provides opportunities for new companies and investors to establish ICT businesses. Simple authorization procedures tend to maximize new entry (see Module 3);
  • regulating competition (including tariffs) involving the effective enforcement of fair and equitable competitive market principles, restraining the power of dominant suppliers and leveling the playing field for new entrants (see Module 2);
  • interconnecting networks and facilities. Normally transparent rules are established for interconnecting all types of traditional and new communications networks and associated cost-based payments (see Module 2)
  • implementing universal service/access mechanisms to ensure the widespread (and affordable) diffusion of ICT (see Module 4);
  • managing the radio spectrum effectively to facilitate new entrants and new technologies, which is particularly relevant to new broadband wireless opportunities such as Wi-Fi and WiMAX (see Module 5); and
  • minimizing the burden and costs of regulation and contract enforcement (see Module 7)

Future posts on policy will be oriented around these modules.  You can also expect more emphasis on academic articles that focus on small economies, since that is where the most apt comparisons to Pacific nations can be made.