Emerging Trends | Policy/ Regulatory Reform | Regulation | Tariff Policy & Competition
July 11, 2019

ITU launches latest ‘ICT Regulatory Tracker’ to help inform key policy decisions

By Youlia Lozanova, Senior Programme Officer for ITU’s Regulatory and Market Environment Division

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) now underpin nearly every sector of the economy, boosting growth and improving lives at a pace and scale not seen before.

This rapid and transformational change is driving the need for cross-sector collaboration – as well as flexible, incentive-based, market-driven regulation.

Moving towards more open, collaborative and cross-sectoral regulation will help to unlock investment that supports innovation, job creation – and digital transformation.

That is why ITU has developed the concepts of “collaborative regulation” and “fifth-generation regulation”. And that is why we have launched the latest edition of ICT Regulatory Tracker.

How the ICT Regulatory Tracker works

The ICT Regulatory Tracker is an interactive tool developed by ITU to help decision-makers and regulators more fully understand the ever-changing terrain of ICT regulation.

The Tracker pinpoints the changes taking place in the ICT regulatory environment. It facilitates benchmarking and the identification of trends in ICT legal and regulatory frameworks.

It tracks countries’ progress from ‘first-generation’ (G1) regulation, whereby regulated public monopolies take a command-and-control approach, to ‘fifth-generation’ (G5) regulation whereby different regulatory agencies are collaborating with a wide variety of stakeholders to form a harmonized approach across sectors now dependent on ICTs.

The tracker is composed of 50 indicators, organized in four pillars: regulatory authority, regulatory mandate, regulatory regime, competition framework.

The Trackers’ indicators correspond closely to the guiding principles outlined in the ITU Best Practice Guidelines of the Global Symposiums for Regulators (GSR) adopted annually by the global community of ICT regulators. The Best Practice Guidelines are considered as the core of modern ICT regulation and the expression of collective wisdom of the current bodies in charge of ICT regulation.

The Tracker helps identify gaps in existing regulatory frameworks, making the case for further regulatory reform towards achieving a vibrant and inclusive ICT sector.

The Tracker does not measure the quality or the performance of regulatory frameworks in place, but records their existence and features. It enables users/countries to track progress and identify the major regulatory trends driving the ICT sector since 2007.

The Tracker went through an in-depth external audit by the Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards (COIN) of the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) COIN team is renowned for its expertise on statistical methodologies and technical guidelines on the development of sound composite indicators, which can be used in making informed policy decisions.

The audit report found that the Tracker is a conceptually sound, statistically coherent and robust monitoring tool. Simplicity and clarity stand out as two of the main strengths of the Tracker monitoring framework.

Some key takeaways

In the 2018 ICT Regulatory Tracker, we can see that many countries are making substantial progress on the road to collaborative “fifth-generation” regulation.

The rise of G4 regulation has proved unstoppable. By the end of 2018, a third of countries had climbed aboard the bandwagon – no longer an exclusive club – of fourth generation regulators.

In just over ten years, G4 — Integrated regulation led by economic and social policy goals — has become the gold-standard for every ICT regulator.

Here are some key takeaways by region:

  • AFRICA – Africa is the region where regulatory frameworks have most evolved over the past ten years. G3 countries have increased in number from five to 52 per cent a little more than ten years. In 2007, more than 40 per cent of Africa were of G1 status. In 2018, only two least-developed countries (LDCs) remain in this lowest tier.
  • AMERICAS – The leader within the region is the Dominican Republic, which is one of the highest scored non-European countries sharing the 8th world spot with Australia and Turkey.
  • ARAB STATES – Progress up the ‘generation ladder’ has been slower than in most other regions, although the pace is likely to accelerate over the next two years with major reforms in the pipeline in a number of Arab States.
  • ASIA-PACIFIC – Australia tops the Asia-Pacific top 5 while placing eighth in the world ranking. Only four countries – one in ten – have attained G4 status, a performance comparable to the figures for Africa. No new countries have attained G4 status since 2012.
  • CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) – The region has made steady progress since 2007. Eleven of 12 countries were either of G1 or G2 status in 2007 and boasted a single G3 country. In 2018, three countries have progressed to G3 and G4 status.
  • EUROPE – Italy tops both European and world rankings, with a score of over 97 points in the ICT Regulatory Tracker. The European top 5 is effectively the world top 5.
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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

ITU launches latest 'ICT Regulatory Tracker' to help inform key policy decisions

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