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Introduction & Preamble
This document addresses the path to liberalization and transformation of the telecommunication industry for the Government of Malaco. This is in line with the Government of Malaco vision of transforming the country from least developed country to developing country and eventually to a developed country improving the social and economic welfare of its citizens. The creation of this policy and strategy document seeks to facilitate sustained economic growth and poverty reduction especially in the rural areas; rebuilding the national communications infrastructure and opening the market to broad competition, investment, and innovation, and achieve universal access. It is based on internationally accepted standards and best practices.
This strategy and policy document proposes forward the following:
- Malaco’s governments proposed plan and vision for the ICT and telecommunications sector, with the primary vision and goal of providing universal access/service to its citizens while improving their social-economic status
- Achieve a liberalized, open and competitive telecommunications sector that fosters investment and innovation
- Introduction of an independent telecommunications regulator within the guidelines of international best practice. This will enable equal and fair playing field amongst the operators and is vital for a successful and competitive market.
- The basic principles required for regulation in an open market structure;
Policy, Strategy Objectives and Targets
The Republic of Malaco’s, National Telecommunications policy is designed to transform the telecommunications landscape within the next 10 years. However, this policy is a dynamic document that may be reviewed and revised regularly to reflect the dynamic nature of the telecommunications industry to preserve its relevance and effectiveness.
Policy Objectives are as follows:
- Affordable & Universal Access
- Quality of Service and Consumer Protection
- Development of Telecommunications market & Services
- Management of Scarce resources
- Efficiency & Innovation
Strategy to realize the government policy objectives are as follows;
- ICT infrastructure –in the aim of provisioning of efficient and affordable ICT services in the country, the Government will support the provision of infrastructure I.e roads energy. Additionally, promote local manufacture and assembly of ICT equipment and provision of incentives and tax breaks for ICT infrastructure
- Electronic Commerce– In order to improve financial inclusiveness the government will institute a policy framework enabling e-commerce and electronic financial services this will bring social-economic empowerment to the citizens. This will improve access to financial services to citizens who had no access to the traditional financial services
- E-Government Services– The major challenge for governments is to provide services to its citizens, thus leveraging the ICT services and infrastructure the government now has a media to effectively and efficiently provide government services to citizens. The ICT medium will provide improved service delivery and enhanced communication.
- E-learning- The government will develop a policy framework to enable e-learning in order to fully utilize the ICT infrastructure and to improve the ICT skills within the country. Advantages of e-learning is always up to date and standardized educational resources and facilitate easier sharing of resources between institutions, trainers and students
- Human Resources, Intellectual Capital – The government will enable its citizen to build necessary ICT skillset to support ICT services and infrastructure within the sector. This will happen through promoting ICT education from basic to tertiary education institutions, developing relevant ICT curriculum and enabling teachers/trainers. Setting up a framework for evaluating and certifying ICT programmes and developing mechanism from attracting and retaining skilled talents to support research and innovation
As the Government of Malaco embarks on liberalizing its telecommunications sector joining international organizations that they can have learning from and predefined standards are critically important as it assists to expedite the process of liberalization. The two main international organizations that provide guidance to liberalization of telecommunication services I.e. World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
World Trade Organization (WTO) members have drafted commitments and schedules to facilitate trade in telecommunications services. The WTO commitments under its reference paper cover the following
- Best practices in establishment of new telecoms companies,
- Best practices in attracting foreign direct investment in existing companies
- Best Practices in Cross-border transmission of telecoms services.
- Best Practices in Competition in basic telecommunications
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) offers standards and regulations relevant to electronic communications and broadcasting. Although ITU recommendations are non-binding to members, it provides invaluable reference for emerging nations to formulate and follow international best practices with the telecommunications sector and maintaining the set international benchmarks of telecommunications services.
Policy, Legal & Regulatory Framework
Currently, within the Republic of Malaco the state-owned telecommunications operator, a monopoly network of fixed telephones exists, under the direct control of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. In order to create an environment for competition, industry independence and private investment in the ICT and telecommunication sectors, the government requires enacting policy and legislation and structure to enable this.
The telecommunications sector in Malaco have the below-proposed structure:
- The Government will be responsible for determining telecommunications sector policy and development strategy, in line with the objectives, vision and policies of the Government of Malaco for the telecommunications sector. The Ministry will endeavour to harmonize telecommunication policies and regulatory frameworks within regional, sub-regional economic integration arrangements and international organisations such as World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU);
- An independent regulator, The Malaco Telecommunications Authority (MTA), shall be established through amendment of the law. The independent agency responsible for regulating the telecommunications sector, issuing licenses, monitoring the sector, and otherwise implementing this Policy.
- Private operators, subject to licensing or registration issued by the newly created Malaco Telecommunications Authority (MTA), will provide all public and private telecommunications services.
- Private investment in the sector will be increased by way of privatization in the longer term of the incumbent fixed-line provider, and the facilitation of a public-private consortium to build a national telecommunications backbone.
Malaco Telecommunications Authority
Establishment of an independent regulatory body is a crucial factor in the liberalization of telecommunication industry. The responsibility of this independent institution is to act as a referee in enforcing rules between market players is the key to a successful competitive market. The effectiveness of the regulatory institution depends largely on its independence, i.e., the performance of regulatory functions should be independent of the supply of the service and policy-making function.
The Communications Regulator shall be as professional and efficient in its functions as the private companies that it regulates. The Government shall establish, as soon as possible, appropriate legislation and/or other legal mechanisms to establish this Malaco Telecommunications Authority and to determine the scope of its functions, organization, and responsibilities. The regulator shall be “self-financing” that is, funded and sustained through recurring license fees payable from licenses and fees established by the regulator from time to time and made public on an annual basis. The annual budget of the regulator shall be subject to review by the legislature and its expenditures shall be subject to an independent, nongovernmental audit on a regular basis.
The regulator is responsible for regulating and monitoring the development of the telecommunications sector, constant monitoring will ensure the market is open, fair, effective and efficient.
The responsibilities of the regulator will be as below:
- Licensing of operators
- Enforcing license conditions and operator compliance
- Promoting network and service expansion, and universal access
- Spectrum and frequency management
- Standardization and type/numbering plan approval
- Consumer protection
- Technical and economic regulation, including quality of service and tariff regulation
- Regulation of competition between operators, including interconnection
- Promoting investment in the sector enacting favourable policies
- Monitoring telecommunications sector
All of the regulators procedures for issuing rulings or decisions will be entirely transparent and will allow the affected operators, customers, and other interested parties the opportunity to contribute their views in a public forum as well as the right under the law to seek reconsideration of any regulatory decision. The regulator will take account of all relevant interventions when making rules, taking decisions, and ruling on contested issues. Regulatory decisions will be made in a timely and public manner, setting forth the detailed reasons and analysis behind each ruling. Any party that disagrees with the regulator decision will have the right to petition for reconsideration, consistent with the regulatory principles of the Law and this Policy. The regulator will establish procedures and criteria for such applications for review to ensure that frivolous appeals are avoided. The regulator shall rule expeditiously on reconsideration petitions. All decisions will be published and available for review.
Market Structure, Liberalization, and Competition
The Government of Malaco has a strategic objective of ensuring a liberalized telecommunications sector offering services to the majority of its population. These telecommunication services should be openly available and of good quality with pricing dictated by an open and competitive market and environment which allows private sector companies the maximum flexibility to develop the sector in response to consumer demand and public needs. The Government will ensure an open and free market by removing barriers to market entry allowing the forces of the market and technology to determine the most effective means to provide services to end users. This role of ensuring a liberalized, fair and competitive environment is one of the main roles of the Malaco Telecommunications Authority while supporting the expansion of the industry leading to universal access to telecommunications services.
A liberalized telecommunications market will ensure traditional barriers and red tape to entry and innovation in the industry no longer exist. This will promote development and service availability to the consumers thus ensuring the Government meets its objectives and goals which are as follows; to have an open, technologically neutral, and competitive market, including basic domestic voice, international voice, and the Internet. Licensed operators will have the freedom to use whichever technology they see fit to deliver services to consumers. But Prior to issuing any new licenses, the regulator shall assess the existing financial performance of each of the existing Operators and determine the status of their buildouts, and expansion outside of the capital city
In order to achieve rapid telecommunication services penetration, mobile telephone services will be adopted. Malaco telecommunications authority will offer licenses for mobile telecommunications services that will the open to competitive bidding with the only restriction being the number of licenses in order to maintain competitiveness and ensure the return on investment for the private investors/operators. An additional limitation of mobile telecommunication services spectrum availability but this can be resolved once the market matures with strategies like infrastructure sharing and MNVOs.
The market for data transmission and leased circuits shall be fully open to competition, with few, if any, restrictions and no license requirements. The regulator shall take immediate steps to remove entry barriers and restrictions on the provision of dedicated private telecommunications networks and services, for both wholesale and retail customers. These include backbone transmission capacity, two-way leased circuits for closed user group voice and data transmission, one-way distribution networks for cable television or other services, local access line connections for competitive networks and access to the Internet and Internet-based services. Companies wishing to provide any or all of these networks and services will be encouraged to enter these markets with a minimum of regulatory burdens.
Any providers of these dedicated transmission services, which are found to hold Significant Market Power, shall be subject to price regulation and constraints on anti-competitive behaviour, as determined by the regulator. Moreover, should owners or operators of private networks and data transmission or other dedicated services wish to enter the market for switched voice telephone services, they must adhere to the same licensing requirements as other switched service providers.
The market for retail Internet services also shall be fully open to competition, with no restrictions and no license requirements. The regulator shall only require Class licenses of service providers for purposes of monitoring the sector. Where providers of Internet services wish to interconnect with the public telephone network, for example, to offer public voice-over-Internet services which connect to the national telephone network, they must obtain appropriate license authorization for the service in question (e.g., domestic, international).
There shall be no regulatory restrictions on the applications and services that Internet service subscribers may utilize through Internet connections, other than those which may be explicitly prohibited by law. Internet access services and applications (including private voice-over-IP applications) may be re-sold to the public without restriction or regulation, for example through public Internet Cafés or Telecenters.
- Cross-ownership/ Unified Licensing
With the trends in the ICT and telecommunications technology, industry convergence is the future. In order to future proof the telecommunications sector and provide an open and competitive market. Malaco Telecommunications Authority will offer unified licensing scheme (i.e. Mobile telephony, Fixed-line, Cable-TV, broadcasting and Internet) etc Operators/ investors will not be restricted from obtaining a further interest in other telecommunications or information service networks and operations, however, to specific requirements governing fair competition practices. Operators that have significant market power and that have control over bottleneck facilities may be subject to structural and behavioural regulation to ensure that competition in other markets is not adversely affected. Malaco Telecommunications Authority shall establish clear guidelines for the determination of significant market power, and how operators who meet the criteria will be regulated. Subject to these criteria, undue restrictions shall not be placed on operators’ establishment of affiliates and subsidiaries.
With the objective of improving and developing the telecommunications sector and the human capital within Malaco. The Government through the Malaco Telecommunications Authority will have policy and framework for privatization and private-public organizations to ensure transfer of international best practices, technology, network expansion, universal access and innovation. A path to privatization of state-owned fixed line provider and subsequent expansion into mobile telecommunications means the proper evolution of technology and protection of government investment in the fixed line provider. A period of exclusive licensing for fixed line services will additionally protect the organization but eventually open licensing /market will have to be implemented.
Licensing and Authorizations play a very crucial role for all the stakeholders in the industry in protecting everyone’s individual rights. Government will use Authorization and licensing to achieve objectives;
- Privatization or commercialization;
- Expansion of networks and services and other universal service objectives;
- Regulating provision of an essential public service;
- Attracting investment in the telecommunications-ICT sector;
- Regulating market structure and establishing a framework for competition
- Allocation of scarce resources;
- Generating government revenues;
- Consumer protection;
- Establishing a framework for quality of service
While Service providers use licensing as investment assurance and protection. It provides a legal binding contract with the issuing government or regulator ensuring the following;
- Ensuring return on investment
- Legal protection against change in policy and regime
- Fair regulatory and competitive environment mostly against the incumbent
- Fair allocation of resources (frequency spectrum)
Licensing will be offered in 2 different forms and each has different factors that make them suitable in different instances Such as the degree of liberalization of the industry, developing or developed country, type of services to be offered, need of dedicated resources example frequency spectrum. As listed below:
- Individual licensing: Issued to a single entity, contains very detailed conditions specific service & technology, issued through a competitive process, usually has high fees. Usually issued in not very mature/liberalized markets
- General/Class Licenses: Issued to a single entity, offer basic rights & obligations, defined class of service, high license fees, issued through a competitive process, a broad range of services and technologies.
SPECTRUM ASSIGNMENTS AND RADIO FREQUENCY AUTHORIZATION
Assignment of frequencies shall not confer a monopoly on the use of such frequencies on the holder of an authorization or permit. The GoL shall seek to ensure that all spectrum users have a reasonable expectation of continued use of their assigned spectrum.
The regulator shall use international best practice approaches to achieving frequency utilization efficiencies. One example of such measures involve the sharing of spectrum among services in particular allocations and geographic locations.
Access to spectrum can be dramatically improved by granting licensed operators and users the maximum possible autonomy in determining the highest valued use of the radio frequency spectrum authorized for their use.
Spectrum Policy and Management
Radio frequency spectrum shall be recognized as a strategic national public resource. In keeping with this goal, the regulator shall have the responsibility to set the foundation for approaches that shall ensure effective spectrum allocation, planning, utilization, and management of the radio spectrum resource. Core objectives of the regulator in connection with spectrum management shall be the following:
- To effectively plan and manage the allocation, assignment, and use of radio spectrum so that it is available, accessible to users, and utilized efficiently where non-radio alternatives cannot be reasonably deployed.
- To support and promote well balanced national spectrum plans and regulations accommodating the needs of the public and private sector by widely consulting with all interested parties and the general public.
- To optimize the value of scarce radio spectrum resources and ensure its efficient use through the utilization of market-based mechanisms including international tenders.
- To charge user fees for services that provide identifiable recipients with direct benefits beyond those received by the general public thereby promoting an equitable approach to financing government and regulatory programs.
- To plan and manage the utilization of radio spectrum resources in conformance with global technical standards and in accordance with the Telecommunications Law of Malaco.
- To ensure Malaco interests are protected when harmonizing and coordinating Malaco spectrum policies and regulations with neighbouring countries, international organizations and with treaty obligations, including the ITU.
The preceding objectives provide the basis for specific Spectrum Policy Guidelines for Planning, Allocation, Assignment and Licensing, and International Commitments.
The regulator shall be primarily responsible for all aspects of spectrum planning and supports the process of making adequate allocations of spectrum for various existing and new services. The regulator will consult the public, interested parties, organizations and affected parties on the implications of change in the future uses and resulting allocation of radio spectrum resources
The regulator shall conduct systematic review processes involving consultation with the public and other interested parties for the purposes of providing on a regular basis a forecast of spectrum resources and the associated timeframes for making additional spectrum available for the benefit of all Citizens of Malaco.
Flexibility enables spectrum users to make fundamental choices about how they will use spectrum, taking into account market forces such as demand, availability of technology and competition. The regulator shall strive to avoid rules that restrict spectrum use to particular services or applications, so long as the user operates within the technical parameters applicable to the particular radio frequency band and does not produce interference harmful to other users. In doing so, however, flexible radio frequency authorizations will need to be reconciled with licenses authorized for telecommunications services.
The regulator shall develop and adopt such rules, procedures and standards that are necessary to promote equitable sharing of spectrum among services and users in an environment free from harmful interference.
The regulator shall ensure a high priority to public safety and security in the access and use of radio frequency spectrum and will endeavour to ensure commercial service providers are not compromised.
Regulation of Bottleneck Facilities and Scare Resources
The Government will promote sharing of natural sites, physical infrastructure and co-location of ICT facilities by licensed operators. Additionally, the approvals of rights-of-way and clearance to all service providers are critical for the development of the telecommunications infrastructure. The Government will take necessary steps to facilitate
This will ensure fair competition, minimize cost and public inconvenience while protecting the environment. The owner of a shared facility will be responsible for its maintenance and for the connection and engineering of other occupiers’ equipment. Fees for use of such shared facilities will be subject to approval by the regulator.
Shared use and related costs will be allocated equitably among all Operators occupying a facility. The regulator shall facilitate and review negotiations concerning the terms and conditions, including cost allocation, for such shared uses. The regulator shall also establish requirements to allow competing operators to co-locate their equipment on each other’s premises, under similar terms and conditions.
Competition Policy and Enforcement
A comprehensive framework for ensuring fair competition is critical to effective market development, and a cornerstone of this Policy. This framework consists of all the policies, procedures, regulations, rules, and the necessary administrative structure related to the non-discriminatory allocation and administration of scarce resources, licensing, interconnection, equal access, dispute resolution, and access to information. The objective shall be the establishment of fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory competition and regulatory treatment throughout the marketplace.
- Interconnection. Companies licensed to operate public telecommunications networks and to provide public telecommunication services will be obligated to provide interconnection for purposes of transmitting traffic between subscribers of different networks. The regulator will establish and administer an interconnection regime, which will be non-discriminatory and transparent, and will promote fair and effective competition for all operators. Operators will be free to negotiate interconnection agreements among themselves on such terms and conditions as they may choose. The LTA will facilitate such negotiations and will encourage operators to achieve agreement in a timely manner, intervening only where such negotiations fail.
- Equal Access. To the greatest extent possible, customers shall be afforded equal access to all competing service providers in a market, meaning that any customer should have the opportunity to choose among the services of all competing providers, without cost penalties or unduly burdensome technical barriers. Operators of dominant or bottleneck networks will be required to facilitate such equal access by any technical modifications that may be necessary. All competitors will share the costs of providing equal access on a non-discriminatory basis.
- Dispute resolution. Within the LTA there will be established a capacity to resolve disputes between and among competing operators in all matters, especially those related to the negotiation of interconnection arrangements. If information on local costs is insufficient, international benchmarks can be used. Malaco will also avail itself of best practices from other countries. If capacity is lacking, the regulators will feel free to discuss this issue with other regulators or expert advisors. All rulings on competitive disputes will be transparent and non-discriminatory and will be resolved in the shortest time possible.
The European Commission defines competition as follows;
“Competition in the marketplace is a simple and efficient means of guaranteeing consumers products and services of excellent quality at competitive prices. Suppliers (producers and traders) offer goods or services on the market to meet their customers’ demands. Customers seek the best deal available in terms of quality and price for the products they require. The best deal for customers emerges as a result of a contest between suppliers.
Competition policy aims to ensure wider consumer choice, technological innovation and effective price competition, thus contributing to both consumer welfare and to the competitiveness of European industry. This is achieved by ensuring that companies compete rather than collude, that dominant company do not abuse their market power and that efficiencies are passed on to final consumers.”
Governments have a goal or objective of implementing of policy and regulation for ensuring competition and a level playing field to the benefit of all stakeholders Operators – Ensures fair trading environment that enables return in investment, Customers – Ensures products and services are of excellent quality and at fair market prices and the Government – ensures a healthy industry that generates tax revenue and meeting objectives of universal service and access. Competitive markets distribute resources efficiently and fairly without any need for a single centralized controlling authority. Competition maximizes benefits to society by:
- Ensuring that resources, products, and services are allocated to the person or persons who value them the most (allocative efficiency)
- Forcing market participants to use scarce resources as productively as possible (productive efficiency)
- Encouraging market participants to innovate, and to invest in new technologies at the best time (dynamic efficiency).
The telecommunication industry was initially single operator, government controlled and monopolistic industry, riddled with serious inefficiencies and indiscipline. But the era of liberalization came that required introduction of new players into the telecommunications marketplace, with its policies and regulation to ensure the incumbent operator didn’t create an environment where it was impossible for this new entrant to fairly compete and acquire subscribers. Effective competition occurs in economic markets when four major market conditions are present:
- Buyers have access to alternative sellers for the products they desire (or for reasonable substitutes) at prices they are willing to pay,
- Sellers have access to buyers for their products without undue hindrance or restraint from other firms, interest groups, government agencies, or existing laws or regulations,
- The market price of a product is determined by the interaction of consumers and firms. No single consumer or firm (or group of consumers or firms) can determine, or unduly influence, the level of the price, and
- Differences in prices charged by different firms (and paid by different consumers) reflect only differences in cost or product quality/attributes.
Regulation is useful in preventing undesirable outcomes in the marketplace, it can be applying to restore equilibrium but has potentially high cost such as time, resources and inefficiencies. Thus the regulatory forbearance is required, Regulatory forbearance is about focusing regulation to where it is needed, and withdrawing regulation in those parts of the market where it is no longer necessary, as effective competition will generally deliver better outcomes than regulation. Common forms of anticompetitive conduct by companies with market dominance or significant market power are as follows;
- Abuse of dominance,
- Refusal to supply,
- Vertical price squeezes,
- Misuse of information,
- Customer lock-in and restrictive agreements,
- Exclusionary and predatory pricing,
- Tying and bundling of services.
Interconnection and Network Access:
The World Trade Organization defines interconnection as; Linking with suppliers providing public telecommunications transport networks or services in order to allow the users of one supplier to communicate with users of another supplier and to access services provided by another supplier, where specific commitments are undertaken. With the direction of market liberalization and the introduction of competing service providers to the traditional incumbent service providers interconnection is vital to enhance fair marketplace and ensure proper service provision to the end users. However interconnection is not a new phenomenon, it existed well before the introduction of competition as the traditional incumbent service providers would require interconnecting with another incumbent provider in other regions and countries to increase the value of their network to the end users.
The dynamics of interconnection and network access have however been changed with direct competition to the incumbent service providers with their territories and region. The regulators have to provide a framework and constant oversight for interconnection, network access and infrastructure sharing to ensure a fair and health ICT industry that provides protection to the incumbent and the new entrants as well while also creating an environment of continuous investment and innovation.
WTO provides a reference paper providing guidelines for interconnection as below: Section 2.2 of the Reference Paper states that interconnection with a major supplier must be ―ensured at any technically feasible point in the network.‖ This interconnection must be provided:
- on non-discriminatory terms, conditions (including technical standards and specifications), and rates;
- on a quality of service no less favourable than the major supplier provides for its own like services, the like services of its subsidiaries or other affiliates, or the like services provided to any other non-affiliated service supplier;
- in a timely fashion on terms, conditions (including technical standards and specifications), and cost-oriented rates that are transparent and reasonable having regard to economic feasibility;
- on a sufficiently unbundled basis so that the connecting supplier is not required to pay for network components or facilities that it does not require for the service it is purchasing; and
- upon request, at points in addition to the network termination points offered to the majority of users, subject to charges that reflect the cost of construction of additional facilities necessary to accommodate the request.
Interconnection comes in several forms and concepts that ensure proper definition of all permutations and variations are regulated.
- One-way and Two-Way Interconnection
- Unbundling, Co-Location and Co-Sharing
- Asymmetric Interconnection
Regulation and framework have been formulated in terms of engagement, technical standards, dispute resolution and cost structure that will allow continual growth in the sector and not stifle innovation and competition. The regulator will choose a specific framework that best reflects their current industry whether developed or developing, fully liberalized or not, level of competition.
Evolution of network has contributed significantly to the redefinition of interconnection. Traditional service providers (PSTN) were closed networks with very restricted access with evolution to IP Networks that gave birth to Next-Generation Networks, Mobile networks and Internet Service Providers (ISP) has brought an era of open access and VoIP. These require new regulation and framework to ensure fair play in the marketplace
A pivotal role of the Malaco government through the newly formed Malaco Telecommunications Authority (MTA) is to ensure its citizens and consumers of telecommunications and ICT services. Ensuring protection of rights and interest of consumers will be done by the establishment of policies, regulations and reporting in support of this responsibility.
The main areas of priority for consumer protection are as below:
- Quality of Service:
The Malaco Telecommunication Authority will have the responsibility to ensure that telecommunication services from the licensed operators must be of adequate quality to meet the needs of users, consistent with international technical standards. Licensed and authorized operators will be required to submit periodic reports on their performance, and the regulator will be empowered to verify these reports through independent investigation. Technical standards to be covered by service quality provisions may include the bandwidth and signal quality of transmission networks; connect failure rates and measures of network congestion; incidence of customer outages and average repair times; and such other indicators as the regulator may establish. The regulator may establish specific requirements for compensation and recourse where required standards are not met. The regulator shall also establish policies to require that operators and service providers respond appropriately to customer complaints and inquiries, and provide reasonable and convenient access to customer service representatives.
- Fraud Prevention/ Privacy Protection:
The regulator shall be responsible for protecting consumers of telecommunications services from unfair and deceptive marketing practices, and from the unwarranted use of private customer information. The regulator shall establish regulations for monitoring and prevent such behaviour, including penalties for operators who violate these standards. It shall also establish formal complaint review procedures, and shall require all licensed and authorized telecommunications operators and service providers to establish their own procedures for responding to customer complaints. The regulator shall also take initiatives to work with Internet Service Providers, software distributors, and others in the information technology field to coordinate efforts to reduce and eliminate fraud, data and identity theft, unauthorized and malicious electronic communications, and other harmful activities utilizing the Internet and other information and communication technologies
- Public Participation & Access to Information:
The regulator shall promote public participation and ensure that the public has adequate access to sector information. The regulatory proceedings shall be open to the public and all interested parties shall be allowed to participate in the process. The regulator is responsible to publish up to date industry information (based on operators reports and ongoing monitoring activities) and make available any reports on the status of the industry. This information shall be made available in the form of annual reports on the status of the industry and quarterly or semi-annual newsletters informing the public on the status of the sector, including sector developments and planned activities.
Universal Access and Service:
Universal Access and Service framework is a policy rationale for created by the regulators and governments to have service providers accelerate the coverage of basic ICT services to the population, this is especially focused on covering rural areas, geographically remote areas and poor areas. The term Universal Access and Services (UAS) can be broken down into its constituent parts with definitions as below; The following definitions are used:
- Universal access (UA): ubiquitous access to the service e.g., at a public place, thus also called public, community or shared access.
- Universal service (US): every individual or household can have service, using it privately e.g., either at home or increasingly carried with the individual through wireless devices such as mobile phones or PDAs.
- Universal access and service (UAS): the generic term when referring to both UA and US or the general concept.
The three characteristics of Universal access and Universal service are:
- Availability: the service is available to inhabited parts of the country through public, community, shared or personal devices;
- Accessibility: all citizens can use the service, regardless of location, gender, disabilities and other personal characteristics; and
- Affordability: the service is affordable to all citizens.
Service providers will concentrate with the provision of services in areas that provide a return on investment and is economically sound, while the government/regulator has the mandate to ensure its population have access to these services. High importance is placed on access to ICT services for the population as it has been realised that ICT is a social-economic enabler and has a direct impact on the development of the country. These services are defined differently according to whether the country is developed or developing. While in developing countries universal service and access are defined as access to basic telephony services, developed countries crossed the basic telephony service and redefined basic service to be broadband services.
The regulator has to identify the gaps in the universal access and service and formulate strategies the accelerate bridging of these gaps. This can happen by providing incentives to operators, having targets within the operators licensing structure and constant monitoring of the gaps, technology and definitions of basic services/access. Regulators have formulated Universal Access and Service Funds (UASF) and Subsidies that utilized to achieve these goals. Most UASFs are financed mainly through annual operator levies although there are other sources, as follows:
- Government general budget
- Industry levy, as a percentage of annual revenue, on certain classes of licensed operators;
- Various other regulatory sources such as the proceeds of license competitions, frequency spectrum auctions and fees; and
- Once-only contributions financed by loans or grants from international donors such as the World Bank that contribute seed finance