Digital Convergence essay

Convergence is also possible with wireless broadband technologies. As a result, different network infrastructures can today provide a plethora of services. Cable television providers can offer consumers voice, Internet access, and broadcast services ever the same network as one bundled package of services, and for one monthly price. Likewise, a mobile service provider may be able to offer a subscriber data and video services, as well as voice services, and digital television (DTV) providers are offering interactive services.

As such, there are several issues that should be of particular concern to regulators: Does the regulatory framework facilitate the provision of different services over different platforms (e. G. , technology neutrality)? Does the regulatory framework support full competition? Does the regulatory framework allow service providers to offer multiple revises? What are the regulatory policies for these new tech analogies and services with regard to numbering, spectrum, universal service, and interconnection?

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Does the country’s legal framework contain the necessary legislation to support an CIT environment (e. G. , intellectual property laws, computer crime, electronic transactions, data privacy and security)? How much turn-around time and process is required for the country’s legal framework to respond to future changes in the sector? Traditionally, regulatory frameworks were designed for an era when clear functional preferences existed between services and infrastructure, but these regulations are increasingly inadequate for dealing with today’s world.

The combination of services over the same platform is challenging common perceptions about the best means to license and regulate providers in the information and communications technology (CIT) sector. Policy-makers and regulators are responding to the challenges presented by the CIT sector in a variety of ways. First, there has been a shift towards an equal or technology-neutral regulatory treatment of different information and communications infrastructure.

For example, the European Union (IF), India, and Kenya have introduced, or are in the process of introducing legal frameworks and regulations to regulate aspects of convergence through a flexible and a technology neutrality approach. Second, governments such as Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, are modifying the structure of regulatory authorities by providing them with the authority to regulate the telecommunications, broadcasting, and information technology sectors. Finally, governments are drafting and implementing new laws and regulations to create the necessary legal enabling framework to support an CIT sector.

These laws and regulations deal with such issues as intellectual property, content, data protection, security, and computer crime. Another approach to convergence is to accommodate it within the existing legal and regulatory framework. This is possible in countries where there are no barriers to market entry or restrictions on the type of service offering. Although operators can, and do, offer multiple services over multiple platforms in fully competitive markets, it is often a cumbersome process requiring multiple licenses and regulatory oversight by different institutions.

Different Approaches in Implementing CIT Regulation There are three approaches taken by countries to address convergence: (I) a legislative approach; (ii) a regulatory approach; and (iii) a self-regulation approach. Although the first two are most commonly used among policy- makers, the self-regulation approach is gaining increasing popularity. Each of the approaches presents advantages and disadvantages as discussed below, but no one approach results in an optimal solution.

In general, countries see more effective results when several approaches, especially the legislative and the regulatory ones, are used together. Moreover, the first two approaches re generally more effective when they also incorporate a consultative process, such as a public hearing. Additionally, incorporating a self-regulation approach with industry participation allows policy-makers to better understand the consequences of convergence and its trends, as well as to balance the different interests involved in convergence regulation.

A) selective Approach The legislative approach consists of developing legislation that responds to convergence, either in the immediate term or in anticipation of convergence trends. Legislative solutions define new laws or create new regulatory remarks to respond to convergence and guide future policy direction. This can be done by developing and implementing a reform of the entire legal framework for telecommunications or by amendments to existing laws.

An advantage of the legislative approach is that it allows the introduction of a new framework to deal with convergence, without constraints imposed by other regulations or by the existing telecommunications law that may contain categories in which converged services do not fit. A new law or an amendment of an existing law aimed at addressing convergence through a genealogy-neutral approach with a simplified service category can eliminate contradictions and inconsistencies in regulatory classifications. This ultimately makes the regulator more efficient and effective.

Korea (Rep. ) overhauled its telecommunications legislation in 2008 in order to accommodate convergence between telecommunications and television. Under the previous legislative framework, the Korean Broadcasting Commission held jurisdiction over television broadcasting while the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIMIC) held jurisdiction over the CIT sector. Since these ejaculatory authorities could not come to agreement on the provision of real- time PIPIT by telecommunications operators, the converged technology was effectively banned in the country.

To remedy this issue, the Korean Government passed a new law creating a converged regulator, called the Korea Communications Commission (KC), which has jurisdiction over both television and telecommunications-related matters. In addition, the Korean Government enacted a new law, entitled “Internet Multimedia Broadcasting Business Act” that specifically addressed the licensing requirements and service obligations of PIPIT. With extensive build-out of broadband infrastructure, the new law facilitated fast growth Of PIPIT services in Korea.

By the end of 201 0, Koreans PIPIT market was the fourth largest in the world with about 3. 65 million PIPIT subscribers and was also the fastest growing PIPIT market with an increase of 54% between 2009 and 2010. 3 By July 2012, the number of PIPIT subscribers in Korea had reached 4. 42 million. When designing new legislative frameworks to address convergence, flexibility and foresight are critical elements. Given that the market of new services and technologies is extremely dynamic, legislators must be mindful not to develop isolation that may rapidly become outdated.

Legislation should allow the regulator sufficient flexibility for interpretation so that solutions can be implemented as needed despite the evolving nature of convergence, and can do so without constricting future applications and technologies that could benefit the economy and consumer welfare. In addition, the evolution of convergence, combined with the uncertainty about which technologies and services will succeed in the marketplace, requires a continuous review of the applicable legislation.

Some jurisdictions, such as the E and Malaysia, have established a permanent legislative review process to address convergence. Advantages: It allows comprehensive reform of the existing legal structures to address the major changes of convergence. An overhaul of the entire legislative framework provides a better approach for addressing the rapid technological advances resulting from convergence than the retrofitting of existing and outdated regulatory categories. It establishes a symmetric set of rules for converged technologies for all existing operators and new entrants.

It harmonize the criteria of the different branches Of the government that just deal with convergence. For jurisdictions in which competition is currently being introduced, a legislative approach to incorporate convergence to this process can be done at the outset of liberalizing. Disadvantages: It is time-consuming and the legislation may be outdated before it is enacted. It may lack sufficient flexibility to address convergence and its effects. If a review process is not applied, legislative tools may lose efficacy in the long term, becoming part of the problem and not a solution.

In addition, legislation may become entrenched and difficult to change in the future. Legislative approach through amendment of existing laws Although a legislative approach commonly involves a modification of the entire legal framework, it may also be carried out through a process of amendments. Through an amendment process, policy-makers can obtain the feedback of industry, consumers and other affected parties for each amendment and address external input before carrying out the legal reform.

The amendment process can be quite effective to address urgent convergence challenges without the time-consuming process required for an entire legal framework reform, and is useful to prepare industry and nonusers for further regulatory changes. For example, in Hong Kong (SARA), the Government introduced numerous reforms by amending existing legislation, such as the Telecommunications Ordinance, as well as introducing new legislation including the Electronic Transactions Ordinance.

Advantages: It is not as time consuming as a modification of an entire legal framework and may address urgent convergence effects. It can be used to obtain industry and consumers’ feedback before implementing new legal reforms, incorporating it into new amendments. It can be used to prepare the industry and consumers for further legal changes. Disadvantages: By adopting a piecemeal approach, some inconsistencies among laws may result if the amendment does not cover all applicable laws affecting convergence.

For the same reason, it may result in different applications regarding convergence by the different branches of the government. B) Regulatory Approach Under the regulatory approach, countries do not develop new legislation to address convergence. Instead, they modify existing regulations or institute new regulations to address new technologies. For example, in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced regulatory edification to allow new technologies, such as power line communications (PL), also referred to as broadband over power lines (PL).

The regulatory approach can be a practical way of addressing convergence provided that existing regulations can be modified or new ones introduced relatively quickly. However, the regulatory approach must be carefully managed to minimize inconsistencies between new and existing rules. In jurisdictions where the regulator’s actions are constrained by the legal framework, a regulatory approach may be extremely limited to the point Of being ineffective or unavailable as an option.

In addition, since convergence may result in different services and technologies being provided by a single operator, more than one branch of the government, or more than one regulatory agency, may need to be involved. To eliminate inconsistencies, a common policy articulated by the highest level of the government may be required. The involvement of different branches of the government and regulatory agencies slows the process and eliminates one of the main advantages of the regulatory approach, its fast pace. Most often, the regulatory approach is used by policy-makers in conjunction with the selective approach.

This complementary mix allows governments to establish new legal frameworks to address convergence while dealing with its specific effects through regulation. For this combined approach to work most effectively, the legislation must be sufficiently flexible to allow periodic regulatory adjustments. For example, this mixed approach was used in Spain. The Government of Spain had already implemented the Ex.’s 2002 NRC and modified its interconnection regulation to allow broader interconnection than traditional switching (e. . , operators were able to interconnect to parts of the infrastructure or have access to wholesale services for subsequent resale (I. E. , broadband wholesale service). However, because operators’ needs Were changing due to increased provision of IP-based systems and services, the regulator implemented a subsequent resolution introducing a capacity-based interconnection system that would serve as an alternative to the traditional time-based system and the access to parts of infrastructure and wholesale services.

Advantages: It allows a faster approach (than legislation) to address convergence and its effects, introducing regulatory measures according to the pace of the genealogy. It allows regulators to make precise rules addressing the effects of convergence. When used in conjunction with the legislative approach, it allows for the quick updating or elimination of outdated rules. It also allows flexibility in interpreting existing rules. Disadvantages: It may cause inconsistencies among existing and new rules.

It may raise asymmetries among existing operators and those that operate technologies that arise from convergence. In jurisdictions where different branches of the government deal with convergence, it may entail the intervention of a higher level of government to harmonize a common approach. C) Self-Regulation Process The self-regulation process consists of developing and designing convergence policy through an ad hoc or existing consultative body. This body is normally composed of several government agencies, industry representatives, and other interested parties.

The role and functions of these consultative bodies varies, but they generally issue recommendations to the government addressing the need for changes in convergence legislation and/or regulation. TO the extent that industry representatives are involved, self-regulation and industry guidelines may be an outcome of this approach. These consultative bodies may address specific issues of convergence (I. E. , Poi or Next Generation Networks (ENG)) or may undertake a more comprehensive analysis assessing the consequences of the legislative and regulatory environments.

A consultative body is a valuable tool that provides a way to constantly review and monitor the effects of convergence and provide first- hand contact with industry and other parties that deal with convergence directly. Australia has several consultative forums for the communications sector, with the most important being the Communications Alliance (formed n 2006 from the merger of the Australian Communications Industry Forum (COIF) and the Service Providers Association Inc. (SPAN)). The Communications Alliance implements and manages industry self-regulation in the interests of both industry and consumers.

For example, as part of its activities, the Communications Alliance has developed a number of Poi- related industry guidelines including: 1) IP network quality of service for Carriage Service Providers, such as Sips and 2) Poi quality of service measurements. 2 However, the self-regulation process has certain potential problems. For example, the intervention of industry representatives may SSE a risk in those jurisdictions where competition has not developed or where significant asymmetries exist among operators, since the consultative body may be dominated by these operators and its conclusions could reflect narrow interests.

In these cases, self-regulation guidelines developed by these consultative bodies may result in rules that benefit existing operators to the detriment of new competitors that operate new technologies providing converged services. Policy-makers must carefully manage these risks in order not to regulate convergence according to the s Advantages: It provides first- and knowledge of the effects of convergence and can provide insight on the effects of proposed regulation. It can be a useful tool to introduce the measures to address convergence with the pace and flexibility requested by the industry.

Disadvantages: The establishment of a consultative body, and the development of procedures to ensure its neutrality, may be difficult. In those jurisdictions where competition has not developed or where significant asymmetries exist among operators, recommendations may not be neutral and may tend to foreclose effective entry by new convergence technology-based operators. It may not result in quick solutions if recommendations to modify existing regulations must be implemented through a subsequent legislative approach.

Modifications to Telecommunications Legislation to Address Convergence Policy-makers are implementing reforms to their legal frameworks in order to address the issues raised by convergence. Most of these reforms are focused on telecommunications legislation and regulation. However, due to convergence, legal reforms of telecommunications legislation are increasingly coordinated with and, in some cases even integrated into legislation affecting eradicating and information technology. These reforms are resulting in the opening to competition of increasingly more advanced and converged services.

Countries where such an approach is not carried out have less effective regulatory tools to handle convergence and therefore may miss the full benefits of its development and the introduction of advanced and converged services for the market and consumers. For instance, reforms may be developed in the telecommunications regulatory framework, but if regulation in other CIT sectors is not also modified to address the challenges of new technologies (I. E. Privacy and security issues, e-signature, e- commerce, etc. , the market will not fully develop because consumers will be reluctant or unable to use all CIT capabilities until these challenges are fully addressed. Reforms due to convergence are following common trends affecting various aspects of telecommunications regulation, particularly in the areas of licensing, spectrum, interconnection, universal service, and numbering. With regard to licensing, modifications to regulations have focused mainly on reducing market-entry requirements for new technologies by introducing a simpler and technology-neutral licensing regime.

In the area of spectrum management, the concept of technology and service neutrality is being proposed, as well as spectrum trading and in-band migration, to allow the more flexible introduction of new services and obtain a more efficient use of the spectrum. Interconnection ideas are also shifting and new concepts are being implemented such as “access” and “capacity based interconnection. ” For purposes of universal service and numbering, technology-neutrality and inter-modality portability is being introduced.

Licensing Licensing frameworks traditionally consisted of a large number of different revere categories, and applicants applied for separate licenses in order to provide each service. In addition, licenses were often granted based on the type of technology that was being offered by the applicant (e. G. , VAST license). Convergence has had an impact on this categorization and made it complicated for regulators to continue to grant licenses in this manner. For example, a cable television operator intending to provide “triple play’ services generally would require three different licenses, one for each of the bundled services (I. . , broadcasting, voice and data), instead of one single license. Countries have been modifying their licensing frameworks to address this new situation by simplifying their licensing regimes. This has been primarily implemented by: (I) introducing technology-neutral licenses with broader service categories; The first trend in licensing reform is to introduce technology-neutral licenses that combine converged services or broaden the types of services that fall within one license.

For example, in Malaysia, the prior licensing framework consisted of 31 service-based licenses, whereas its new framework consists of four general and tech oenology-neutral licenses: Network Facilities Provider (NFG); Network Services Provider (NSP); Application Services provider (ASP); and Content Application Services special subset of application services that includes television and radio broadcast services and Internet content services).

The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (OCTET), has developed a technology-neutral licensing approach with four categories of licenses: Individual Licenses (generally for services that are infrastructure-oriented); Class Licenses (Sips or resale, among others); Frequency Authorization Licenses (that is an ancillary science that would be required in addition to an Individual or Class License); and Special Licenses (that are foreseen for special cases in emergency circumstances). 3 OCTET classifies licenses based on the service that will be provided without regard to the type of technology being used.

For instance, whereas previously an operator might obtain a VAST license, it now obtains a license for the service (I. E. , a private or a public network service) it will be offering using that VAST. (ii) establishing a unified and technology-neutral license that allows operators to provide multiple services under one license sing any kind of technology; A second trend is the introduction of a unified licensing regime, in which licenses evolve into a single license covering a wide range of services.

This approach has been or is being adopted by various countries, including Kenya and India. Jenny’s licensing administration, announced in September 2004, adopted a unified and technology-neutral licensing framework that permits any form of communications infrastructure to be used to provide any type of communications service. This licensing regime differs significantly from the previous service-specific licensing regime insisting of 46 types of licenses grouped into nine categories.

Jenny’s current Unified Licensing Framework (ELF) consists of three main technology- neutral licenses: (I) Network Facilities Provider (ii) Application Service Provider (iii) Content Service Provider. In addition, investors seeking to land a submarine cable in Kenya require a Submarine Cable Land license while those interested in building system for the provision of international voice/ data services are required to get a license for international Systems and Services. An operator may be issued multiple commercial licenses, provided hat it maintains separate accounts for each license.

In India, the Department of Telecommunications adopted a more unified licensing framework in which unified Access Service (USA) licensees may provide, within their licensed geographic area, any voice and/or non-voice (I. E. , data) services over either fixed line or wireless networks via circuit-switched or IP-switched equipment-6 These licensees may also provide specific value-added services of piecemeal, video conferencing, audition, videotape, email and closed user group services to subscribers. However, all other types of services require a separate license.

As of March 2008, there were 240 USA licensees in India. (iii) “De-licensing” whereby the operator merely needs to submit a notification or registration with the regulator, although specific rights of use may be required when scarce resources such as spectrum or numbering are involved in the provision Of a service; A third trend is the movement in certain countries towards lighter licensing regimes or De-hissing. Traditionally, many countries used three general approaches to authorize telecommunications networks and services individual licenses, class licenses, and open entry.

In he initial phase of liberalizing in particular, countries leaned towards a higher degree of regulatory control over market entry, thus requiring individual licenses in most cases, where: (I) there was a need for access to public property and/or locations of public use and/or third party properties to roll out the networks (I. E. , deploy a base station or a fiber network); (ii) there was a need for scarce resources (e. G. , frequencies and/or numbers), and (iii) the government of a particular country determined that the service needed to be provided in a certain way.

Convergence has called this premise not question, with countries realizing that burdensome administrative procedures relating to market entry limit the offer of a greater variety of applications or services. As a result, many countries (including all 27 EX. member states) are moving towards a general authorization regime. De- licensing involves a general authorization or class license system in which operators are free to provide services subject to regulatory obligations. Typically, the operator must submit to the regulator a notification containing minimal information before, or within a short time after, initiating service.

However, operators do not have to wait for approval before commencing service. A registration regime typically requires minimal information, but involves stricter formalities in that prior acceptance of the registration by the regulator is required for the operator to commence its activities. In addition, unlike a notification, a registration may be rejected by the regulator. In April 2004, Japan implemented a review of its Telecommunications Business Law and established a registration and notification regime.

Operators in Japan that install networks of a certain size and scale must obtain a registration room the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications. However, all other operators are only required to submit a notification to the Ministry. 7 The EX. has moved towards a simple authorization regime using minimal regulatory intervention and requiring individual licenses only where strictly necessary (e. G. , for the use of resources such as radio frequencies and numbering). The regime covers authorization of all electronic communications networks and services regardless of whether they are provided to the public.

The objective of the new framework is to ensure the freedom to provide electronic miscommunication networks and services, subject only to the conditions relating in particular to welfare, public security, and public health. However, one interesting aspect of the new regime is that the defied notion of “electronic communications networks and services” is so broad that in certain EX. jurisdictions various services that were previously unregulated now require a notification and operators are now subject to a variety of related obligations (e. . , fees and taxes) to which they were not previously subject. (iv) not requiring any registration or notification on the basis that the services revived fall outside of the regulators authority or because the regulator has decided to forbear from regulating a particular service. A fourth trend to address convergence is to eliminate filing requirements with the regulator on the basis that the services fall outside of the regulators authority or because the regulator has decided to forbear from regulating a particular service.

This approach has been followed in the united States for Sips and the services they provide (e. G. , e-mail, Internet access, and Poi). To date, services provided by Sips have been treated as unregulated “information services” in order to promote the continued development of the Internet. However, these modifications may not be sufficient to fully address convergence if they are not accompanied by related measures in the regulatory framework to introduce competition and non-discrimination.

For example, in many jurisdictions, cable television operators, which were initially licensed to provide broadcasting services, can provide voice and data services without any specific restriction. On the other hand, traditional telecommunications operators may not be allowed to compete with cable operators if broadcasting service licenses are restricted. In this case, the lack of reform in broadcasting legislation becomes a bottleneck that restricts competition and discriminates against telecommunication operators.

Spectrum Most countries allocate spectrum on a national basis in accordance with the TIT frequency allocation table, and then assign specific frequencies for use by particular radio services. Traditionally, spectrum licenses have been subject to stricter government controls than other types of licenses because they involve the use of a scarce resource and can be hampered by interference. However, to promote competition, convergence and efficient use of spectrum sources, policy makers and regulators have begun introducing changes to spectrum regulations.

First, regulators are starting to grant the right to use spectrum without regard to the type of technology being used (I. E. , technology-neutral approach). For example, in India, the government has reformed the licensing and spectrum authorization regime from a service- specific to a technology-neutral unified access service license (JAIL) framework. Under the previous spectrum authorization framework, the government issued Cellular Mobile Telephone Service (CAMS), which only remitted licensees to provide mobile voice and data services.