G5 regulation: The digital transformation fast lane

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This year has seen the global regulatory community embrace the so-called “gold standard” for digital regulation.

Fifth-generation collaborative regulation, or G5 for short, is part of an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) concept of continual technological development, with successive “generations” evolving from command-and-control public monopolies to collaborative regulation across institutions and stakeholders as part of a digital economy.

The concept reflects 20 years of global engagement on policy and regulatory best practices, combined with ongoing research, analysis and prototyping. Reaching G5 represents a key step to unlock a far-reaching global digital transformation.

To capture progress on the creation of an enabling policy environment in each country’s digital market, the ITU has launched a new framework, the G5 Benchmark.

It allows regulators, policymakers and other users to map out key policies and track implementation, as well as establish a common language and facilitate country-level modelling.

2021 G5 Benchmark: Bigger and better

The 2021 edition introduces a new framework to assess country-level preparedness for fully digital social and economic transformation.

Spanning 193 countries, the G5 Benchmark tracks data across 70 indicators, organized around four main pillars:

National collaborative governance: This covers collaboration among institutions, industry stakeholders, and cross-sector regulators and assesses regulatory coherence and impact at the domestic, regional, and international levels, particularly where information and communication technologies (ICTs) cross over with health, finance, education, transport and energy.

Policy design principles: This indicates the extent to which policy design and regulatory compliance are guided by evidence, transparency and accountability, and ethics.

Digital development toolbox: This encompasses key legal and policy instruments, including those for cybersecurity, data protection, emergency telecommunications, and infrastructure sharing, as well as mid- to long-term socio-economic goals, such as youth employment and sustainable consumption and production, where digital technologies play a role.

Digital economy policy agenda: This indicates how far governments have updated their policy portfolios for the digital economy, from innovation and investment incentives to taxation, emerging technologies, and industry codes of conduct.

The G5 Benchmark offers regulators and policymakers a straightforward snapshot of where each country stands in respect to digital transformation.
Based on these indicators, countries fall into four stages of digital transformation readiness: Limited, Transitioning, Advanced or Leading.

How the G5 Benchmark adds value

Regulation is changing as digital markets mature. Development trajectories are shifting, with digital transformation following varied pathways in different economies. The G5 Benchmark serves to guide national decision-makers through uncertain times — beyond country rankings and score calculations.

Existing metrics do not tell the whole story. Building on global perspectives across economic sectors, the G5 Benchmark lays out clear regulatory tracks to ensure that digital markets can thrive while achieving national and regional development goals.

Policy design, input from national stakeholders and implementation can all work together to fast-track digital development. Agile, resilient, future-proof regulation requires a laser focus on policy implementation. The G5 Benchmark combines broad principles with specific instruments and implementation mechanisms, recognizing that fifth-generation regulation is contextual, modular and multi-dimensional.

Regulators are increasingly collaborating across sectors. Collaboration among institutions is an essential ingredient for regulatory relevance, coherence and impact. The latest G5 Benchmark reflects greater breadth and depth of collaboration between ICT regulators and sector-specific or multi-sector regulators.

A benchmark is worth a thousand words. Based directly on relevant indicators, policymakers can evaluate existing regulatory tools and systems — comparing apples with apples — and make updates based on wide-ranging evidence.

Leveraging country-specific experiences

Regulators in different countries are increasingly documenting their experiences in moving through successive generations of regulation. Details of hard-won gains are captured in several country reviews, which can provide valuable pointers to other countries eyeing a similar path.

Every country’s assessment is unique.

As well as analysing varied policy and regulatory patterns, each review sets out national regulatory successes to date and the key challenges still ahead.

G5 Accelerator: Collaborative insights and tools

The new G5 Accelerator platform hosts an extensive collection of articles on collaborative governance, new patterns in digital regulation, and tried-and-tested policy and regulatory best practices for the telecom sector and digital markets.

The G5 Accelerator offers data-driven tools, such as the ICT Policy Impact Lab, the ICT Regulatory Tracker, and the G5 Benchmark.

Visit the reading room, explore unique datasets and country profiles, and contact ITU’s G5 Benchmark team if you need support with the tools.