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Fixed-Mobile Interconnection

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The ITU’s 1999 World Telecommunication Development Report forecasts that revenue from mobile services will overtake revenues from fixed line services around the year 2004.  In fact, the number of mobile subscribers has already overtaken the number of fixed subscribers in many industrialized and developing countries.  But in the rush towards what has been called the “mobile information society”, the sector is facing a number of growing pains.  Although an increasing share of voice traffic is being routed from fixed to mobile networks and vice-versa, the issue of establishing rates and regulation for interconnection between these networks is still a contentious one.  Rates vary considerably across ITU Member States.  Commercial rates range from zero in some countries to as much as US$ 0.62 per minute in others.  Even in relatively liberalized economies, rates for mobile interconnection are often well above costs.  The European Union has recently launched an investigation into the high termination rates being charged by mobile operators. 

Many countries, including India, Morocco and the UK, have taken regulatory action to bring fixed-mobile interconnection rates in line with costs.  However, there is little in the way of research or international benchmarking to assist countries in their costing exercises.  No consensus has been reached on the costing methodology to be used. In many developing countries, the lack of resources and regulatory expertise can hinder efforts at cost-orientation.

Recent excitement over the launch of mobile Internet services makes fair and open interconnection an even more pressing issue.  The viability of these new services will depend not only on the interoperability of standards but also on technically and economically sound interconnection arrangements.  Addressing the major issues underlying fixed-mobile interconnection at an early stage will assist regulators and industry alike in this transition to an increasingly mobile world.    


Workshop held in September 2000 
Fixed and Mobile on the Web

Background Resources Website
- including country case studies, links to regulatory information, on-line  reports and data

Related ITU Resources

IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications)

Reforming the International Accounting Rate System

GMPCS (Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite)



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Updated : 2011-04-04