Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Generations of Regulation

The two latest editions of BDT's annual Trends in Telecommunication Reform publications approach the evolution in telecommunication regulation by setting forth four generations of regulation. In order to further explore this notion, all countries included in the ICT Regulatory Tracker were categorized into score thresholds that relate to each of the generations of regulation.

G1: Regulated public monopolies – command and control approach
G2: Basic reform – partial liberalization and privatization across the layers
G3: Enabling investment, innovation and access – dual focus on stimulating competition in service and content delivery, and consumer protection
G4: Integrated regulation – led by economic and social policy goals

The assessment of generations of regulation starts in 2007, when the ICT Regulatory Tracker reached its full set of indicators. A clear pattern can be drawn from the resulting numbers: there is a substantial increase in the number of 4th generation regulators, from less than 1% to 28% of countries in 2013. Just as important, the number of 1st and 2nd generation regulators has steadily decreased during the same timeframe. This positive outlook represents the dynamic pace faced by the telecom regulators, a reality that challenges these entities to adapt themselves and follow the global trends in order to drive communications ahead.


Building on the same notion of generations of regulation, another conclusion is worthy of mention: mobile broadband penetration levels are higher and grow at a faster pace in countries experiencing the fourth generation of regulation. Included in the chart above are countries with both a tracker score and mobile broadband penetration data (a total of 122 countries).


A crucial theme engaging regulatory environments worldwide is the universal provision of services, an objective that is enormously assisted by promoting a healthy competitive market. Tnumber of markets with services open to competition has witnessed continuous growth over time as can be seen by the chart above (it takes into account what is permissible in countries according to their legal framework).

In the light of such numbers, a closer look into 2013 data reveals that the vast majority of countries fostering a competitive environment in the three services considered (IMT, Fixed wireless broadband, International gateways) belongs to the fourth generation of regulators.