SAMENA Telecommunications Council was a key participant at the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) 2014 held recently in Bahrain. The 14th edition of the GSR was organized by the International Telecom Union (ITU) in line with the theme “Capitalizing on the potential of the digital world.”
The GSR is a unique ITU forum which brings together heads of national telecom and ICT regulatory authorities from around the world and serves as the global annual venue for regulators to discuss the most pressing issues they have identified.
At the forum, the South Asia – Middle East – North Africa (SAMENA) region was represented by SAMENA Telecommunications Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bocar Ba, who was a member of the panelists in the opening day debate session titled “Redefining responsibilities in a data driven digital world.”
Commenting on whether regulatory frameworks are evolving in sync and on a timely basis with the evolution in network technology and data handling and storage techniques, Mr. Bocar said, “In many countries in the SAMENA region, regulation has not, so far, kept pace with the rapidly changing technical arena. For instance, a number of telecom regulators are opposed to cloud computing as well as the introduction of services such as M2M simply because it means that data will flow in and out of the particular country under the regulator’s jurisdiction. There are legitimate concerns about consumer privacy and this certainly needs to be addressed but it is unrealistic to stick to regulation that was designed to address legacy systems and processes.”
“In addition, when one looks beyond the telecom world, at IT companies for instance – they are using cloud computing without any of the same restrictions imposed by telecom regulators. Therefore, from a telecom regulatory standpoint, the area of data delivery and protection needs to be looked at from a fresh perspective,” he added.
Speaking about the principal challenges faced by operators in the digital world, Mr. Bocar highlighted: “There is a significant shift in revenue sources driven by the expansion of the Internet, especially mobile applications. In addition, there is an increase in customer network service expectations that require national broadband infrastructure building, which is a costly proposition. Next, there is a major change in users and patterns of digital services and products, which we at SAMENA Council call Digitization.”
During the GSR 2014, participants including regulators, policy makers and ITU-D sector members analyzed and discussed several means to bring the full potential of the digital world to the consumers in an informed, responsive and safe manner.
During a meeting of Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officers (CRO) held prior to the GSR 2014, SAMENA Telecommunications Council stated the importance of bringing in investors and private equity funds to the discussion, along with policy makers and regulators, in order to ensure the adoption and development of investment friendly policies and regulations.
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