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History of the ITU-T surveys of accounting rates

Starting in 1992, with the approval of ITU-T Recommendation D.140 on Accounting rate principles for international telecommunications services, and until 2010, the Telecommunications Standardization Bureau (TSB) collected and published data on the evolution of accounting rates. The “accounting rate” is defined as “The rate agreed between Administrations in a given relation that is used for the establishment of international accounts”. 

The data were collected by sending questionnaires to all ITU members. The first questionnaire requested data going back to 1988, so the data published by TSB cover the years 1988 through 2009. 

Over the years, the number of respondents started to decline, primarily because the traditional accounting rate system was no longer the main method for settling accounts: rates were increasingly set on a bilateral basis by private operators, and were increasingly based on more complex traffic routing arrangements involving three or more parties. 

Thus, it was decided in 2010 to discontinue the survey, while recognizing that it had been a very valuable exercise, in particular because it well documented the significant reductions over time in accounting rates. 

There can be no doubt that those significant reductions were in large part engendered by the liberalization and privatization policies implemented by the vast majority of the ITU’s Member States. The average accounting rate declined from its initial value of 1.06 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) in 1988, to its lowest reported value of 0.047 in 2008. That represents a compound annual decrease of about 15 percent per year over 20 years. 

The chart below shows the evolution of the average of the reported accounting rates over time. Further details can be found here (TIES protected).