|Photo credit: AFP
Open access to networks calls for a rethinking of
regulation to anchor national broadband strategies.
The aim is to allow for effective competition while
ensuring accessible, affordable and reliable services
A key outcome of GSR-10 is a set of “Best Practice
Guidelines for Enabling Open Access”. These guidelines
encourage regulatory frameworks that foster
innovation, investment and affordable access to
broadband and other services in markets worldwide,
through a set of core principles all regulators can
adopt and then adapt to local market conditions.
The guidelines underscore the importance of a
clear and transparent regulatory process, including
enforceable rules governing service provision, a
technology-neutral approach, and competitive network
and service provision. They call on regulators
to embrace forward-looking regimes that are subject
to regular review, to remove any new or emerging
regulatory barriers to competition and innovation.
Defining open access
From a service provider’s perspective, open access
means the possibility for third parties to use an existing
network infrastructure. And every user (consumer)
should have access to all services and applications
carried over these networks, as long as those services
and applications are public and lawful. The user’s
range of choices should not be unduly constrained by
the inability of competitors to obtain access to services,
especially over last-mile infrastructure.
Open access to networks
Policy and regulatory tools are needed to open up
access to network facilities without harming investment
In order to encourage broadband deployment,
and to preserve and promote the open and interconnected
nature of the public Internet, regulators
should consider mandating dominant providers
of national broadband networks, including cable
landing stations, to provide open access on a fair
and non-discriminatory basis to their networks and
essential facilities for competitors at different levels
of the networks.
In countries where fibre-to-the-building is deployed,
regulators should set rules that ensure shared
and equal access, to prevent discriminatory behaviour
or a monopoly by the first infrastructure operator
in the building.
A centralized record of infrastructures that can
be shared, whether held by public bodies, electronic
communications operators or other public utilities,
should be established for the benefit of all market
players. Operators should make available information
regarding passive infrastructure (such as ducts and
towers) that can be shared.
Efficient allocation and assignment of the digital
dividend spectrum will result in social and economic
benefits that could stimulate innovation for the provision
of lower-cost communications and services,
especially in rural and remote areas.
Governments should update the definition of universal
service as needs evolve to ensure technology
neutrality and the inclusion of broadband access.
Governments should put in place national plans
and strategies to stimulate the deployment of broadband
networks, particularly in developing countries.
Such strategies might include public–private partnerships
and promoting the involvement of municipalities
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Open and neutral Internet
There should be fair rules for Internet traffic management.
Any differences in the way in which various
data streams are treated should be objectively
justifiable, whether according to the type of content,
the service, application, device or the address of the
stream’s origin or destination.
When Internet service providers (ISPs) employ traffic management mechanisms for ensuring access to
the Internet at any point of the network, they should
comply with the general principles of relevance, proportionality,
efficiency, non-discrimination between
parties and transparency.
To ensure reasonable traffic management practices,
regulators should take measures such as:
obliging ISPs to disclose information concerning
network management, quality of service and other practices;
allowing clients to quickly end their contracts
without high switching costs;
prescribing minimum quality of service for
giving consumers the right to access any lawful
content, applications, and services over their
These principles must not supersede any obligation
an ISP may have — or limit its ability — to deliver
emergency communications or to address the
needs of law enforcement, public safety, or national
or homeland security authorities, consistent with applicable
Regulators might consider facilitating the creation
of local content and of local Internet exchange
points (IXP) to complement and ease international
Open access to content
Regulators should ensure broadband connectivity
to schools, health centres and hospitals, so that
citizens can benefit when connecting through high
bandwidth to these services.
Governments should create awareness among
consumers about the risks associated with technological
progress, and take the necessary measures
for data protection, privacy, consumer rights, and
the protection of minors and vulnerable segments of
Challenges to open networks
Open networks pose challenges in terms of network
stability, business continuity, resilience, critical
infrastructure protection, data privacy and crime prevention.
Internet Protocol networks, based as they
are on an open architecture and well-known protocols,
are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Preventing attacks
by patching vulnerable systems, implementing
firewalls or other access control technologies, monitoring
through intrusion detection systems, and responding
to the threats in real time, have become
crucial to effective network operation.
|photo credit: ITU/V. Martin
Senegal’s Minister of State and Secretary-General in the Office of the President
A harmonized regulatory framework should be
developed within regions and a broader dialogue established
between all stakeholders so that this central
issue of open access networks can be further discussed
and the appropriate measures taken.
Service providers should exercise reasonable network
management practices with respect to outbound
as well as inbound traffic. Such practices can
help stamp out attacks at the source and thus stop
them from spreading.
Regulators should implement measures to prevent
Internet service providers from connecting unlawful
user devices to the networks.
expressed satisfaction that
the North and the South
were examining the future
together. “We are linked by
common objectives”, he said,
noting that the South has expertise
that it can contribute
to the North. He stressed that
telecommunications are the
present and the future, and
that without a vision we cannot
Closing the Symposium,
Aminata Tall, Senegal’s Minister of State and Secretary-General in the Office of the President commended
ITU for bringing together, in collaboration
with ARTP, a group of eminent experts to think,
discuss and share their experiences.
the importance of ITU in
strengthening human capacity
building and in improving
regulatory frameworks. “We
all depend on ICT because
we are living in the era of
the ’knowledge’ economy”,
she said. Sami Al Basheer
Al Morshid expressed his
pride in the outcome of the
2010 GSR and extended his
best wishes to his successor,
to host the next Global
Symposium for Regulators in 2011 was warmly acclaimed
by all GSR-10 participants.
|Photo credit: ITU/V. Martin
|Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, and Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of the ITU Telecommunication
Development Bureau welcome Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade at the opening ceremony of GSR-10 in Dakar
|Photo credit: ITU/V. Martin
|Brahima Sanou, Director Elect of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (second left); Dr Hamadoun I. Touré,
ITU Secretary-General; and Mr Sami Al Basheer, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau pictured here with Senegalese dignitaries
The full text of the “Best Practice Guidelines for
Enabling Open Access” are contained in the GSR-10
Chairman’s Report available at: