Table of contents
Part 1
What are ICT and internet policies?
Part 2
The internet, markets and access
Part 3
National ICT and internet policy and regulation
Part 4
Specific issues in internet policy and regulation
Part 5
Organisations active in ICT

Table of contents

10. A short history of telecommunications reform

11. ICT policy, legislation and regulation: tools for national development

12. Involving key players at a national level

13. The actors in international and regional Internet and ICT policy

14. Guiding and governing the Internet

15. Telecommunications regulation

16. Policy and regulatory issues

17. Decision-making processes

PART 3: National ICT and Internet Policy and Regulation

Government ICT policy is a key item on the ICT agenda today. But not all countries have the same decisions to make, nor the same time frame in which to make them. Whereas most of the OECD countries, for example, have privatised their telecom companies, and have well-estab-lished telephone systems that provide internet access to all citizens, in developing countries this is often not the case. Decisions taken in the 1990s in the rich countries, about market liberalisation and deregulation for example, are still being taken in poor countries today. In North America and Europe, how to provide broadband access is a current concern, whereas in Africa most people still do not have access to a telephone, let alone cable TV or satellite connections. Some countries are in the middle – they have initiated their deregulation process, but this is far from complete and de facto monopolies are common.

In this context, a new alignment of international voices has emerged to deal with the big stakes now at play in ICT policy. Powerful intergovernmental organisations are setting the agenda on ICT issues that penetrate all aspects of life – from policy, legislation and regulation to cultural development and the delivery of health and education.1

They are working in partnership with the private sector to identify ways to deliver technologies and services to the untapped market of four billion people in developing countries who earn less than $2000 a year and make up the base of the world’s economic pyramid.2

There is undoubted potential for good in this partnership of development and business. But there are also reservations about the global agenda of liberalisation and privatisation in which it is framed. Externally defined development programmes have rarely succeeded. While national policies do need to take account of the global agenda they must also reflect the knowledge and understanding of local constituents, the needs of the people who will be most affected by the policies and the particular circumstances of their lives.

Civil society voices – national and international - are thus emerging to influence market forces shaping ICT policy towards social equity.

The crucial challenge for the new partnership of development, business and civil society is to turn the digital divide into digital opportunity for those living at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Global development and security demand that the misery that the ITU predicts as an accompaniment to the telecommunications revolution does not add to the burdens of the already poor but that they become the prime beneficiaries of the new opportunities.

This chapter aims to increase understanding of ICT policy and regulatory issues, especially in developing countries, by addressing the following questions:

   • What are the objectives of ICT policy?
  • How does it link to legislation and regulation?
  • Who are the key players nationally and globally?
  • Who governs the internet?
  • How has telecommunications reform evolved?
  • What are the objectives of regulation and how does it work?
  • What are key reform and regulatory issues and their consequences?
  • What can be done to make decision-making processes more participatory, democratic and transparent?


1 See ITU e-strategy, p11
2 C.K. Prahalad and Allen Hammond, Serving the World’s Poor, Profitably, Harvard Business Review, Reprint R0209C

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