Nº 5 2013 > Economic and policy issues of international telecommunication services
ITU activities in Asia and Oceania
Study Group 3 of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T) leads studies on tariff and accounting matters (including costing methodologies) for international telecommunication services, and related telecommunication economic, accounting and policy matters.
On 9–10 April 2013, ITU–T Study Group 3 Regional Group for Asia and Oceania met in Tokyo, Japan. The meeting was preceded by a seminar on costs and tariffs for member countries of the Regional Group for Asia and Oceania, organized by ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).
Both the seminar and the meeting were hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and were sponsored by major Japanese carriers; KDDI Corporation, NTT Communications Corporation, NTT DOCOMO Inc., and SoftBank Telecom Corp. The seminar was attended by 57 participants from 13 countries, while the meeting attracted 50 participants from 10 countries.
Thrust of work of ITU–T Study Group 3
A key task of ITU–T Study Group 3 is to recommend principles for harmonizing global interconnection rates. Interconnection rates are the costs between telecommunication service providers when linking networks for the exchange of traffic. This work has become increasingly complex with the more widespread use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and the move to IP-based or next-generation networks. More recently, ITU–T Study Group 3 has surveyed international mobile roaming rates, with a view to determining whether there are differences by region and, if so, to find out what might be causing them.
ITU–T Study Group 3’s aim is to keep rates fair, and as low as possible without compromising service. Interconnection rates are a key concern for ITU members, in particular those in the developing world. In fact, ITU–T Study Group 3’s regional tariff groups (for Africa, for Asia and Oceania, for Europe and the Mediterranean, and for Latin America and the Caribbean), with their 20-year history of activity, are a model for encouraging the involvement of developing nations in the standardization work of ITU–T.
It is often difficult for members from developing nations to justify attending study group meetings that involve costly travel. The regional tariff groups provide a valuable way for developing nations to keep up to date with the latest developments and contribute to the standards-setting process.
Meeting of the ITU–T Study Group 3 Regional Group for Asia and Oceania
The ITU–T Study Group 3 Regional Group for Asia and Oceania consists of countries in Asia, Oceania and the Middle East (except the Mediterranean Basin). The Regional Group for Asia and Oceania holds a meeting once a year, hosted by a member country of the region. Discussions cover cost modelling for telecommunication networks and services, including international Internet connectivity and international mobile roaming.
This year’s meeting in Tokyo discussed bottom-up long-run incremental costs, cost models in convergence networks (IP networks), international mobile roaming, international Internet connectivity, calling line identification, and next-generation network charging.
Even though many countries have developed cost models for voice, there are not yet any cost models specifically for data services. Trends show that the use of data services is increasing, so the development of such cost models is particularly important.
To move the discussion forward on this and other key matters, ITU–T Study Group 3 Regional Group for Asia and Oceania established five ad hoc groups for the 2013–2016 study period, on:
- Definitions and economic effects of alternative calling procedures, misappropriation and calling line identification.
- Commercial agreements, dispute resolution, and invoicing.
- Mobile roaming.
- International Internet connectivity.
- Cost models.
Following the meeting in Tokyo, these ad hoc groups will continue their work by electronic means in order to make regional contributions to ITU–T Study Group 3 meetings, regional recommendations, as well as reports to the next meeting of ITU–T Study Group 3 Regional Group for Asia and Oceania.
Regional seminar on costs and tariffs
The regional seminar on costs and tariffs for Asia and Oceania focused, in particular, on strategies for the deployment of next-generation networks and next-generation access in a broadband environment, emphasizing the economic and regulatory aspects. Another topic in the spotlight was competition and regulation in a converged broadband world, taking into account the elements to be considered when determining significant market power.
The seminar was chaired by Seiichi Tsugawa (KDDI, Japan), Chairman of ITU–T Study Group 3. Participants made presentations highlighting the situation in their countries in order to promote dialogue and information sharing. There were nine sessions and 15 presentations (see http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/finance/work-cost-tariffs/events/tariff-seminars/Japan-13/index.html).
In addition to the topics retained from the previous study period, such as international Internet connectivity and mobile roaming, ITU–T Study Group 3 has been tasked by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly and the World Conference on International Telecommunications to examine other subjects during the study period 2013–2016. These include, for example, commercial agreements and dispute resolution, as well as misappropriation and alternative calling procedures. These matters are of great importance to the activities of telecommunication operators and the industry as a whole.
Both the seminar and the meeting provided an opportunity for members of the Regional Group for Asia and Oceania to understand current challenges and study them from a regional perspective. ITU–T Study Group 3 will make every effort to fulfil its important and renewed mandate, taking into account the regional views from its regional groups.