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Telecom Regulations &Tech Trends: Catching Up With A Fast-Paced World

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Sonny Aragba-Akpore
Sonny Aragba-Akpore

The Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) recently emphasised the urgent need for telecommunications regulations to keep up with the ever-evolving technology trends. Hosted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the symposium served as a wake-up call to regulators worldwide, urging them to adapt swiftly to technology advancements or risk being left behind.

ITU secretary-general, Doreen Bogdan-Martin emphasised the rapid pace of technology, stating, “Tech is moving fast and won’t wait for us to catch up.” She highlighted the importance of engaging and agreeing on regulatory guidelines, which were showcased during the Global Symposium for Regulators, ensuring that technology benefits everyone and our planet.

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) of Egypt, Dr. Amr Talaat acknowledged the ICT sector’s prominent role in driving sustainable development. He recognised the Global Symposium for Regulators, hosted by Egypt, as a platform for decision-makers, regulators, academic specialists and industry pioneers from both developed and developing countries to exchange expertise and experiences.

To achieve universal and meaningful connectivity, the practice guidelines prioritize regulatory approaches for rural, unserved and underserved areas, as well as emerging technologies. Since 2003, the GSR Best Practice Guidelines have established regulatory principles to foster a competitive, safe and inclusive environment.

According to ITU documents, the 2023 guidelines address the expansion of connectivity and support access, adoption, and usage by identifying incentives. These guidelines also introduce novel, innovative, evidence-based cross-sector digital policy and regulatory principles to ensure a sustainable digital future for all.

The guidelines were developed through contributions from national and regional policy-makers, regulators, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. They promote collaborative approaches that encourage the development of investor-friendly markets, fostering competition while stimulating innovation.

The Best Practice Guidelines, adopted at the International Telecommunication Union’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-23) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, define regulatory and economic incentives to promote the deployment of digital infrastructure worldwide.

These new guidelines will primarily focus on introducing emerging digital technologies and expanding digital infrastructure to rural, unserved, and underserved areas across the globe. Chair of GSR-23 and executive president of Egypt’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA), Hossam El-Gamal emphasised the potential of emerging technologies to uplift and empower underserved communities, contributing to socio-economic development.

During the three-day event, participants discussed the current challenges faced by regulators while also planning for the future. ITU’s director of the telecommunication development bureau, Cosmas Zavazava stressed the importance of dialogue among policymakers, regulators and the industry in achieving universal and meaningful connectivity. The Best Practice Guidelines serve as a collective knowledge and commitment to drive universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformation.

Prior to GSR-23, the Industry Advisory Group on Development Issues and Chief Regulatory Officers (IAGDI-CRO) engaged industry and private sector members in discussions to explore how they can contribute to effective digital transformation. The outcomes of these discussions were reflected in a communique presented at the GSR-23 closing ceremony by Bocar Ba, IAGDI-CRO Chairman and CEO of Samena Telecommunications Council. The private sector reaffirmed its commitment to supporting governments, especially regulators, in today’s volatile and ever-changing environment to achieve common goals in the short and long term.

On June 5, the Digital Regulation Network initiative was launched at the regional regulatory associations meeting, providing a unique platform for regulatory associations to share experiences, knowledge and foster collaboration. This initiative aims to accelerate sustainable digital transformation by strengthening cooperation at the global and regional level, identifying common approaches to collaborative digital policy, regulation and governance across economic sectors and borders. The initiative will focus on three key building blocks: thought leadership, capacity development and regulatory experimentation and innovation.

Moreover, GSR-23 featured the publication of country reviews for Brazil, Colombia, Egypt and Kenya under the New Collaboration Digital Regulation. These reports, part of a series launched at the Global Symposium for Regulators in 2021, provide authoritative analyses of the national regulatory landscape and offer clear and practical directions for achieving G5 regulation and digital transformation.

The GSR witnessed the participation of regulators from all 193 member states of ITU, along with global tech giants and industry players from around the world. Regulatory leaders unanimously agreed that these new guidelines will ensure an inclusive and sustainable digital future for all.

In summary, as we look ahead, 5G technology is poised to become mainstream, enabling monetisation and the implementation of various use cases. The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue its rapid growth, driven primarily by 5G technology, while artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasingly significant role in telecommunications. Cloud computing will maintain its dominance in the market. Alongside these advancements, cyber security and resilience will be at the forefront, driving complete digital transformation in all sectors.

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