Bringing together regulatory
authorities from all around the world, the 7th Global Symposium for
Regulators (GSR) has identified best practice guidelines needed to
facilitate the migration of Next Generation Networks (NGN). The 38-point
roadmap is designed to encourage regulatory frameworks that foster
innovation, investment and affordable access to NGN.
"Our goal is to encourage the design of regulatory frameworks
that foster innovation, investment and affordable access to NGNs and
that facilitate the migration to NGN and ultimately lead to bridging the
digital divide," said Dr Hamadoun I. TourÚ, ITU Secretary-General.
"We believe the best practices adopted at this meeting will
ultimately offer the possibility of delivering real benefits to
providers and consumers, through cost reduction as well as offering
innovative new services".
The best practice guidelines underscore the importance of embracing
the principles of a clear and transparent regulatory process including
the adoption and enforcement of rules; technology-neutral and
competitive network provision under a coherent approach that address the
issues raised by convergence.
The guidelines also call on regulators to adopt forward-looking
regimes subjected to regular reassessments to ensure that undue
regulatory barriers to competition and innovation are removed. This
on-going monitoring would also ensure that users and providers are able
to migrate to future networks whenever market conditions are met.
Mohamed Al Ghanim, Director General of the TRA
of the UAE and Chairman of GSR 2007 said, "GSR is the industry’s
premiere symposium for ICT regulators and we are delighted that it has
concluded on such a high note. We at the TRA of the United Arab Emirates
are firmly committed to adopting the best practices identified at this
symposium and tailor them for the UAE market", Al Ghanim added.
"We encourage all to reap the benefits of these guidelines in order
to collectively raise the standards of the telecommunications
Regulators are also urged to adopt investment friendly regulation
considered as of paramount importance for the success of NGN network
deployment, while maintaining a level playing field and protecting
consumer interests. The adoption of flexible but accurate
interconnection models are also encouraged to allow smooth transitioning
In particular, participants agreed that regulators should take steps
to ensure that the market suffers no undue distortion of
competitiveness. In view of the high level of convergence both at the
transport and service level, participants felt that there was a risk
that NGN providers and operators could be in a position to restrict
service level competition to their own advantage. There was therefore
agreement that regulators should be vigilant and monitor any incident
that could require a regulatory response in a way that would not act as
a deterrent for NGN service providers and operators. Regulators are also
asked to keep in mind the need to create regulatory certainty for both
incumbent and competing or alternative providers.
"NGN is seen as somewhere between the telecom and Internet
worlds, creating a whole new range of issues to be tackled by
regulators," said Mr Sami Al-Basheer Al-Morshid, Director of ITU
Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)". "The best
practice guidelines endorsed by over 100 CEOs and board members of
national regulatory authorities come a long way in addressing the issues
and provide the way forward for all regulators around the world,"
Because the deployment of NGN will not happen overnight, the best
practices encourage regulators to define policies that allow for the
co-existence of legacy and IP networks, alternative voice services such
as VoIP or bundled services that can offer voice together with TV and
Internet also called triple play. In doing so, regulators are to
consider applying the same obligations to all operators and providers of
telephony services whether traditional irrespective of how they are
delivered to consumers, under the symmetrical regulatory approach.
Commenting on the success of the Symposium, Professor Ibrahim Kadi,
Senior Advisor of the Communications and Information Technology
Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arabia said, "GSR 2007 met its set
objectives of providing networking opportunities and the symposium
format facilitated the sharing of knowledge and experiences amongst
regulators from all over the world."
The best practice guidelines cover all aspects of service provision
including authorization, access, interconnection and interoperability,
numbering and NGN identification systems, universal access, quality of
service, consumer awareness, security and protection.
This year’s event introduced a new feature, Speed Exchanges, to
provide additional opportunities for participants to meet informally and
exchange views. Topics discussed in the Speed Exchanges included
interconnection, the enabling environment, consumer protection, quality
of service, regulatory implications of VoIP, why holding public
consultation on NGN, international roaming, regulatory issues for
convergence and what to do with regulatory bottlenecks. Speed Exchanges
were also held on building confidence and security in the use of ICT as
called for by the Action Plan of the World Summit on the Information
Society (WSIS) and on the next steps in the negotiations of the World
Trade Organization (WTO).
"The Speed Exchanges proved extremely useful and came at the
right time," expressed Roxanne Maria McElvane, Senior Counselor of
International Development at the US Federal Communications Commission
International Bureau. "After two days of high-level presentations
and discussions, the exchanges allowed us to address specific topics and
areas of interest with other regulators from around the world providing
greater interaction and networking opportunities."
The Symposium was organized by ITU and hosted by the Telecommunications
Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates (TRA). More than
470 participants took part in the Symposium, with Heads and Board
Members from 100 national regulatory authorities as well as private
sector representatives and international organizations.