The Next Step for Telecom Regulation: ICT Convergence Regulation or Multisector Utilities Regulation?

28 February 2016

This paper critically examines the multiple rationales for telecom, IT, media (ICT) convergence regulation on the one hand, and multisector utility regulation on the other, and the practical questions of implementation they pose, with a view to contributing to informed policy and regulatory decisions that are now underway in many countries. The conditions that may affect the creation of convergence and multi-sector regulation, ranging from underlying commonality of inputs and the behaviour of regulated firms to considerations that are specific to the regulatory process such as scarcity of regulatory resources and safeguards for regulatory independence, are examined. The paper concludes that ICT and media convergence issues are primarily about improving the efficiency of market economies, and how changes in regulation can facilitate this process. It is likely to be of primary interest for countries that already have an established effective independent telecom regulator. Multisector regulation issues are primarily about establishing the efficiency and effectiveness of regulation so it can be a catalyst for network and economic development. It is likely to be of primary interest to countries that have not yet established effective telecom regulation. Each regulatory option arises from an initial diagnose of different problems, and represents different priorities and pathways to achieving a very similar set of development objectives.