Connecting the Regulators
Many ITU Member States recognize that sector reform is the bedrock on which their Digital Divide initiatives rest. It is also widely recognized that effective regulation is key to continuing to attract investment. One of the most fundamental tasks of ICT sector reform therefore is to establish an effective and transparent regulatory authority. Some 117 ITU Member States have created a national communications regulatory body, up from 13 in 1990. By 2005, this number is expected to jump to 140.
A Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) was organized by the Telecommunication Development Bureau at the end of 2001, during a time of growing challenges for the telecommunication sector generated by the current market downturn. Three hundred and sixty-nine delegates from 102 ITU Member States, including representatives from 72 regulatory authorities, five communications ministers, a host of policy-makers, 21 Sector Member companies and participants from regional regulatory organizations, academic institutions and international organizations actively participated in the meeting.
The GSR is the only global venue designed to foster a dialogue among regulators from both industrialized and developing countries. In a testament to the importance regulators placed on the meeting, some 55 heads of regulatory
authorities devoted time from their busy schedules to attend the meeting.
The Symposium resulted in a four-point action plan to assist regulators in developing the tools they need for effective regulation. These include:
- A focus on skills training
- Developing benchmarks and models
- Bolstering regional and subregional initiatives
- Broadening input beyond the community of regulators.
ITU was requested not only to provide training, but also to collect
information on other training programmes and training centres. It was further
requested to conduct studies to identify best practices and models on pressing
issues such as universal service, licensing and interconnection. It was also
requested to bolster regional and subregional regulatory services, including
fostering the development of regional associations for regulators and providing
training and promoting information sharing on a regional basis.
Finally, input is to be solicited from a broader array of market players
while maintaining a forum for free and frank exchange among regulators. This
would include conducting case studies to solicit feedback to regulators from
operators and suppliers, the investment community and users’ associations.