Talking telecoms

Page 45 

The challenges and advantages of competition in the telecommunications sector, notably the role it can play in reducing the digital divide, were high on the agenda at an OECD conference on telecoms policy for the digital economy in Dubai in January 2002.

The conference of regulators and representatives of business, civil society and international organisations from OECD and non-OECD countries, stressed the importance of introducing competition and raised awareness among participants of the need for reforms of telecom regulation.

OECD countries’ experience in liberalising their telecom markets has provided significant benefits for business and consumers and has enhanced productivity and economic growth, the conference was told.

Philip Sayer, head of Vendor Relationships and Communications with the media agency, Reuters Ltd, which spends more than US$500 million on telecoms a year worldwide, said that competition results in lower prices, better services and better availability of new technology. He noted that regulatory issues, lack of suitable services and high prices had held back growth of its information services over the past 25 years. Reducing leased line and broadband access costs, for instance, would trigger additional sales of telecom services and encourage the growth of e-commerce and inward investment, Mr Sayer said.

Competition also brings benefits to most consumers in terms of lower prices, more choice and better service, but competition policy traditionally pays too much attention to supply side concerns and should be more focussed on consumers’ needs, said Michelle Childs, head of policy research with the Consumers’ Association in Britain.

India’s minister of state for communications, Tapan Sikdar, said his country’s experience of telecom liberalisation was a win-win situation for customers, the industry and government, with lower prices and increased availability.

©OECD Observer No 230, January 2002 

Economic data

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