(No.105) Internet Regulation for Improved Access in Emerging Markets

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Workshop Theme: 
Access and Diversity
Theme Question: 

Question 3

Concise Description of Workshop: 

The proposed workshop will discuss the regulatory challenges that face developing countries and emerging markets as they seek to increase and improve Internet access, and the regulatory strategies by which those challenges can be overcome, The workshop will pay particular attention to mechanisms by which regulatory incentives can increase Internet accessibility and availability in rural, agricultural, outlying, and underserved communities. Panelists will address the role of national communications regulators in promoting competition and ensuring access to new market entrants, and their role in forming and informing public policy on the deployment of critical Internet infrastructure, including Internet Exchange Points, the Domain Name System, and mobile broadband. The role of regulators in shaping an open and competitive marketplace that nonetheless nurtures the development of local content will be discussed in detail, The challenges, strategies, models and practices that apply to developing countries addressing these complex issues form the crux of the proposed workshop. The panelists have direct personal experience with regulatory reform in dozens of developing countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Central Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, and can speak to all aspects of the Internet regulatory domain, including governmental, intergovernmental, Internet technical community, and civil society points of view.

Organiser(s) Name: 


  • Jane Coffin, Internet Society

  • Bill Woodcock, Packet Clearing House


Submitted Workshop Panelists: 


  • Bevil Wooding, moderator, Packet Clearing House

  • Sam Paltridge, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

  • Bill Woodcock, Packet Clearing House

  • Jane Coffin, Internet Society


Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Bevil Wooding, Packet Clearing House
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised
Reported by: 
Bill Woodcock
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

This session was a relatively unstructured conversation among four panelists, each with a very different but equally deep background in emerging market Internet regulation, and a group of very active and well-informed participants from the floor.  Bill Woodcock, director of Packet Clearing House, moderated and participated; Jane Coffin, development strategy manager at ISOC, Sam Paltridge, telecom analyst at the OECD, and Bevil Wooding, Caribbean regional specialist at PCH, were panelists.  Bill made introductions and set the stage, defining terms and common values and asking the central question: "What can regulators do to improve Internet access?" Jane began by talking about the need for regulators to keep open lines of communication with the public, their regulated entities, and industry experts. Sam Paltridge continued by relating a history of regulatory involvement in telecommunications and noting that many of the most forward-thinking developments come from the regulators in emerging markets. Bevil followed by discussing the need for explicit and transparent prioritization of regulatory goals and the balance between economic and social aims. There then followed some nine thousand words (going by the transcript) of Q&A between the panelists and the audience, focusing primarily upon regulatory mechanisms and stories of failures and successes in different markets.

Conclusions and further comments: 

The main duty of a regulator is to preserve opportunities for new market entrants by blocking the formation of monopolies and oligopolies, as new market entrants are the only way to structurally ensure the possibility of improvement over time.
Regulators should act affirmatively and proactively to promote the development of open infrastructure and human expertise.
Regulators should employ a light touch and class licenses rather than individual licenses wherever possible.
Protecting the privacy rights of citizens is a valid reason to employ regulatory control.
Regulators should not restrict the minimum price or quality of Internet services, as that disenfranchises impoverished users.