Telecommunications regulators in each country hold one of the most essential positions in developing a higher quality of service for mobile broadband users. In our latest report on this issue, we urge regulators to leverage their convening power in the country as a transparent and publicly accessible source of data and as the facilitators for regular open consultations within the regulatory process.
Here, we shine the spotlight on the value of open consultations as part of the policy development process.
A key example comes from Ghana. Through the regulator’s different approaches to mobile voice and mobile data, operators took different actions and users had a different experience. In regulating mobile voice services, the regulator set indicators with punitive measures attached: while some operators stepped up to the standard, one simply budgeted for paying the fine and never made any consequent quality of service improvements to their network. This lack of participation eroded trust in the regulator’s ability to improve market conditions and required a rethink on its strategy. Now, with an open and collaborative process that includes all licensees and welcomes consumer groups as well, the regulator has restored its position in setting market standards that improve user experience and the quality of service overall.
In Colombia, the modifications to QoS regulations have been conducted in a participatory manner involving the government, operators, civic groups and consumers. The regulator shared proposed resolutions regarding QoS on their website and solicited public comment from different stakeholders; it then analysed the comments received and incorporated comments into the final version.
In Peru, the collaborative experience has extended beyond telecommunications into related sectors. Instead of simply focusing the benefits of cooperation within the mobile sector, partnerships with actors in transportation and electricity and with regional and local governments have created opportunities for positive policy change that extends internet access and helps improve quality of service with more robust network coverage.
Overall, the regulator’s position in the telecommunications market is determined over time in the cultivation of reputations and expectations within the sector. Quality of service represents a constantly evolving issue for regulators to align interests from the various actors towards a common goal. With that vision, regulators can serve an essential function in supporting growth within the mobile sector and its economic dividends into other industries.
To learn more, read our full report Improving Mobile Broadband Quality of Service in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.