Nº 10 2012 > Global Symposium for Regulators | Special report
Defining markets: a regulatory ladder of intervention in a converged digital environment
The session on intervention in a converged digital environment, moderated by Kathleen Riviere-Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority, Bahamas, covered: defining significant market power in a converged technology and service-neutral environment; the move from regulation to deregulation; whether significant market power operators who invest heavily in network deployment or innovate fast should be treated differently; and the roles of competition authorities and ICT regulators, with a view to avoiding overlap and fostering cooperation.
Ms Riviere-Smith said that the ICT market is moving towards a converged environment, and asked whether regulators should deregulate to allow innovation.
Christian Koboldt, Co-founder of DotEcon and author of the ITU Broadband Report on Competition and regulation in a converged broadband world, said that in a converged environment the same operator can provide different services through bundling, and that 70 to 90 per cent of broadband customers in developed countries use bundled services. Also, there is a range of different broadband ecosystems: digital subscriber line (DSL), cable and fibre for fixed, with a mixture of the three technologies and a growing role for mobile. The implication of this for market definition is the need to concentrate on marginal customers who switch to different products depending on price.
Different types of networks can give access to the same service in a non-discriminatory manner, but the rules applying to the different services and the boundaries of the various regulatory authorities need to be clear.
Mohamed Bubashait, General Director of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Bahrain, explained that TRA was the first authority in the region to conduct a market review, and that it has published extensive guidelines on how to define markets and foster competition. While there is no competition commission in Bahrain, TRA has the power to enforce ex-post provisions in the telecommunication sector.
Abdus Samad, Commissioner of Bangladesh’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, said that the concept of “dominant position” is defined by the general competition law in Bangladesh, and that the market currently functions under competition mechanisms with some regulatory boundaries, such as price regulation, to ensure sustainability of small market players.
Participants discussed the separation of competencies between the regulatory authorities and the competition authorities, noting that the expertise of the sectorial regulatory authority should be beneficial to the competition authority.