Feature Article

July 17, 2012

If Service Providers Want to Use New and Better Technology, is that a Problem?

Regulatory frameworks typically lag big changes in technology and business models. At one time, the only networks that could be used for communications were the landline telephone networks. That has changed, of course, with the advent of radio, television, cable TV, satellite communications, fixed wireless, mobile and now virtual networks such as the Internet.

The point is that rules that made sense in the past have had to change as new businesses, industries and networks have been created. What we haven’t seen so much of is a harmonization of rules that govern contestants that compete across the board in markets, but use networks that are regulated under vastly-different rules.

These days, there are a number of ways to provide voice, messaging, video, audio, text and application access, where in the past there was one network and one service. That means regulatory change is inevitable, as rules and frameworks gradually are adjusted to reflect markets and capabilities as they are now, not as they once were.

Though, some think every such change is part of a nefarious plot, which is a bit silly. Everywhere in the developing world, when service providers and regulators want the fastest possible deployment of voice, video and Internet communications, they turn to wireless or satellite networks.

When regulators want to see more competition, they turn to wireless networks. There is nothing nefarious about that process. Wireless simply is the best way to create large networks very quickly.

For example, though political realities make a “purely technical” decision possible, if a country wanted to extend faster broadband services to isolated locations as fast as possible, at the lowest cost possible, it would use satellites, period. That country might also spend a bit more time supporting the creation of one or multiple mobile networks to create ubiquitous or widespread terrestrial communications and faster broadband.

What a rational actor would not do is build a fixed line network. That’s just economics. Regulators responding to such economic realities are not being nefarious; they are being rational.

If new technology can bring faster broadband and voice to isolated locations, it should be used. There is nothing nefarious about that.

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile Internet ecosystem? Then be sure to attend the
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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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