Nº 10 2012 > Global Symposium for Regulators | Special report
Blurring boundaries: global and regional IP interconnection
The session on boundaries in IP interconnection, moderated by Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigeria Communications Commission, dealt with how to address the remaining bottlenecks and whether IP interconnection should be regulated, the kind of dispute resolution mechanisms to be adopted at regional and international levels, and what enforcement measures work in a competitive environment. It also considered whether regulators should be involved in wholesale charging agreements, and how international IP interconnection is affected by net neutrality and international Internet connectivity.
Dennis Weller, Senior Advisor for Navigant Economics and author of the GSR discussion paper on “Global and regional IP interconnection”, said that the development of the Internet in the past 16 years has been the major factor of economic development, facilitated by an efficient and global market for IP connectivity. But the benefits of this development have not been uniform among regions. There have been structural changes in the market on peer practices, with almost all agreements made informally on the basis of trust, without written documents.
The voluntary nature of agreements in developed country markets is essential for the success of the development of the Internet. But in developing countries a set of best practices is needed to promote a virtuous circle of development around liberalization, low barriers to access international gateways, low licence fees, public investment where appropriate, support for the development of Internet exchange points, constraints on anticompetitive behaviour by the incumbent, openness to foreign direct investment, and promotion of demand for broadband services.
Harinderpal Singh Grewal, Director of Next Generation National Broadband at InfoComm Development Authority, Singapore, said that the trust mentioned by Mr Weller in the peer agreements between established operators does not always work for new entrants. In Singapore, one operator with significant market power is obliged to offer transit business as an operator of last resort. It therefore has no interest in making peer agreements with new operators. To remedy this situation, the regulator has set up a multi-operators Internet peer point, even if operators still negotiate peer agreements among themselves.
Participants pointed out that the difficulty of determining whether a number is coming from a normal network or an IP network is an obstacle to number portability for IP, and that high-termination rates do not stimulate operators to move to IP interconnection. Furthermore, there is a lack of standards. What is happening in the IP market now is what happened years ago in the telephony environment, with incumbent operators trying to block new entrants. Fortunately, the situation is changing.