" ITREALMS: ITU, infoDev join forces on new online regulation kit

Thursday, August 04, 2005

ITU, infoDev join forces on new online regulation kit

United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Information for Development Programme (InfoDev), a multi-donor programme under World Bank group with focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for development, have launched a new online regulation toolkit.

This toolkit has been planned to address the complex regulatory challenges emerging from a rapidly evolving ICT industry.

A press statement issued simultaneously by the ITU Regulatory Officer, Ms Susan Schorr and the InfoDev, Ms Joan Hubbard specifically touched on an update and expansion of infoDev’s influential print publication Telecom Regulators’ Handbook (issued in 2000).

The new web-based toolkit is aimed at national and regional regulatory agencies, ICT policy-makers, and other stakeholders with an active interest in ICT regulation.

ITU said that about 140 nations worldwide have now achieved a national regulatory authority, with the vast majority having been put in place during the last 10 years.

These relatively new authorities, ITU noted that many of them were established as part of a broader programme of national ICT liberalization, and have a strong need for reliable and impartial information on regulatory issues and best practice.

Director, ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), Mr. Hamadoun I. TourĂ© said “Today’s regulators and policy makers, especially those in the developing world, are seeking practical advice and concrete best practice guidelines to help grow their national ICT markets”.

He pointed out that the new ICT regulation toolkit is a response to the demands for provision of a first-class product on policy and regulation.

ITU said, the toolkit was conceived as a permanently evolving resource, consisting of a series of modules on key regulatory issues in the rapidly converging ICT sector.

The first module, however, went live at the weekend and deals with the authorization of telecommunication services.

It also addresses such issues as different authorization approaches and practices, and competitive licensing processes as well as highlights on recent trends toward lighter authorization and licensing practices that could reduce barriers to market entry.

The officials said the remaining modules are scheduled to come online between now and 2006, covering cover legal and institutional aspects of regulation; interconnection, price regulation and competition; new technologies and their impact on regulation; and radio spectrum management.

Each module, ITU said, consists of a core document, which provides a high-level summary of the topic concerned, and serves as the framework for a range of online content giving more detailed information through hyperlinks.

These hyperlinks allow users to access secondary documents that offer in-depth treatments of the topic in both text and graphical formats. Users could gain access to reference documents containing information on best practice and industry precedents.

They could also obtain practice notes that provide summaries, background, context and practical advice. In addition to providing an invaluable day-to-day information resource, all modules could also be used as training materials in formal training sessions for regulators or operators. The online version of the ICT Regulation Toolkit will be regularly updated to ensure that it incorporates the very latest information on regulatory strategies, best practice and country case studies.

“This new ICT Regulation Toolkit will provide ICT policy-makers and regulators with practical approaches and instruments to support their decision-making,” said infoDev Programme Manager Mostafa Terrab.
“It is a unique resource designed around three key features: it is an interactive, on-line tool allowing for user feedback and enhancement; it is dynamic in that its contents will evolve to reflect new developments in the sector; and it is forward-looking, foreseeing and anticipating policies and regulations that fully leverage the potential of new technologies to maximize access for all throughout the developing world.”

Champion Infotel gathered that the full toolkit will be showcased at the annual ITU Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR), to be held in Hammamet, Tunisia from November 14 to 15, 2005, as well as at the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which will take place in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005.

The module that went live today is accessible here, as well as through links on the ITU and infoDev websites. The remaining modules scheduled to come online later will be made available on CD-ROM.

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