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Call for Changes to Telecoms Regulations

New GSMA study calls for fundamental review of Digital Ecosystem Regulations

The GSMA has published a new report calling for the modernisation of telecommunications regulations. “A New Regulatory Framework for the Digital Ecosystem”, developed by NERA Economic Consulting for the GSMA, explores how the pace of regulatory reform has failed to match the speed of change in the digital world, in particular with the emergence of a range of internet-based services and applications and a converged digital ecosystem. The study recommends a forward-looking, technology-agnostic regulatory framework, driven by clear policy objectives around consumer protection, innovation, investment and competition.

“The telecoms regulations in place today are largely the same as those used to regulate the technologies and markets of the last century. There is no place for analogue rules in today’s dynamic digital age, where consumers face an expanded array of competitive choice in a converged marketplace,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. “In many cases, changes in technologies and markets have eliminated the need for certain regulations – or at least dictate the need to change the form or application of them. The GSMA urges policymakers to review existing market structures, reform out-dated regulation and ensure a level competitive playing field to protect consumers and enable innovation.”

Current Regulatory Imbalances

The collective growth in mobile broadband access, smartphones and internet technology has fostered new mobile voice and messaging communication services. While these new services compete directly with traditional communications services, including those offered by mobile operators, they are not subject to the same rules, including rules for collecting and using customer data.

“This discriminatory regulation distorts competition, stifles innovation and hurts consumer welfare,” continued Giusti. “Today’s dynamic and competitive markets require more non-discriminatory and technology-agnostic policies. Reforms are needed to ensure that consumers continue to benefit from innovation and investment, while being protected and regardless of the type of the company or technology providing the service.

Key Principles for a Modern Regulatory Framework

To accommodate the complexity of today’s converged digital ecosystem, the GSMA’s new report recommends that policymakers should incorporate three key principles as they work to modernise regulatory frameworks:

• Regulatory objectives can best be met by focusing on the services delivered to consumers, not the type of company or technology that delivers them.

• Measurable, performance-based approaches should be favoured over prescriptive regulations, promoting market dynamism and driving consumer welfare.

• Policymakers should take a fresh look at legacy rules and discard those that are no longer relevant, applying a consistent set of criteria throughout the ecosystem.

“The GSMA is committed to actively pursuing an informed, constructive and evidence-based dialogue with policymakers to promote much-needed reform of out-dated regulatory frameworks,” concluded Giusti. “By applying consistent and flexible standards across the digital ecosystem that apply to all market players, policymakers can enable an environment of fair and sustainable competition that promotes the best interests of consumers and fosters economic growth.”