An Interactive Regulatory Body
A. F. M. N. H. Choudhury.
Member, BTTB, (May`2000)
This paper outlines some of the key requirements to ensure interactive nature of the regulator essential to be proactive and respond to the market needs swiftly and cost effectively These key issues include
1. Procedure of making a regulatory body interactive
2. Revenue generation to support self sustenance of the operation of the regulatory body
3. Setting up a transparent information system to support regulatory activities and provision of access of the regulatory entity to the public
4. Setting up a national industry forum consisting of consumers, operators, vendors and others procedures for monitoring and evaluation of sector performance and implementing of remedial actions
The measures to be taken to preserve and strengthen the interactive ness of telecom regulators for which the relevant issues have been considered. These essentially include the generic requirements essential for regulation of Telecommunication services.
There are several Regulatory Bodies established under their respective Telecom laws which have been formulated with due focus of these generic issues. However, there is little or no evidence to show that their interactive ness is up to expectations of these regulatory entities. In several
instances it appear that these issues covered in the Telecom law are not adequate to guarantee their interactive ness and independence, to protect from influence detrimental to the realization of the objective of sector reform - namely delivery of affordable service nationwide.
Based on these experiences some of, the important measures essential to protect and strengthen the interactive nature of the regulatory entities are summarized below. These involve:
a) Establishment of procedure of appointment & termination of members of the regulatory commission and making them interactive based on representative public opinion-(note 1)
b) Provision of means for regulatory body to be self sustaining to enable generation of funds essential to support the implementation of the regulatory agenda without hindrance to the accomplishment of its goals - (note 2)
c) Establish a transparent information system to support efficient and effective regulation of the sector and also provide access of regulatory information and services to the public- (note 3)
d) establish and Industry Forum comprising of consumer groups, licensed operators, vendors and others concerned and also processes to review sector performance, policy and regulations and implementation of corrective actions.
The interaction of the above measures is shown in a diagram (A).
The measures proposed to protect and strengthen the interactive nature and independence of regulatory body are stated below:
Note-1 Selection of Members of regulatory body
a) The appointment of members of the regulatory body by the Government may be based on the recommendations made by a national committee representative of public opinion and eminent persons of public recognition.
Note - 2 Revenue generation for funding, implementation of the regulatory agenda
The telecom law should provide stipulations empowering the regulatory body to:
c) Levy fees for issue of licenses to operators, service providers, telecom vendors, users of radio spectrum in order to enable generation of funds to ensure self sustained operation of the regulatory body.
d) Use the funds to support regulatory activities, to subsidize telecom developments where critical mass is inadequate or costs are prohibitive. For example realization of universal service obligations and access to new services or introduction of new technologies in the market. Where subsidies are essential they will be provided on a time bound and competitive basis by inviting offers from those concerned in the sector and selecting those cost effective offers with lowest subsidy. The subsidy should encourage the investor to develop the service so that it becomes viable within an agreed time frame.
e) Use the fund to support consumer groups and their programs on improvement of telecom services and their expectations of quality of service, activities carried out by the consumer groups to enhance access of general public to the regulatory body - particularly those in remote areas e.g. a member of the
public in a remote area requiring use of radio spectrum. In such instances the services may be offered through the Internet access available with the consumer group located in the proximity of the residency of the applicant.
f) Ensure that the regulatory cost burden passed on to the consumer directly or indirectly is the bare minimal through choice of most cost effective methodologies and options and to make available to the public statement of the regulatory expenses to the public.
Note - 3 Establishment of a transparent information system to support monitoring of sector performance, review of policy I regulation, implementation of remedial action and provision of nationwide access of information of regulatory services and their outcome to the public.
A transparent Regulatory Information (interactive) system should be established to support monitoring of sector performance and access to regulatory information to the general public. This system will include information on:
I. Market demand and program of telecommunication development by operators and area wise
II. Public complaints and means for online submission of consumer needs
III. Sector shortcomings and remedial measure for improvement thereof
IV. Numbering plan, spectrum man agreement, interconnection etc.
V. Agenda and outcome of Industry forum,
VI. Regulatory agenda and expenses
- Other issues of interest to a stakeholders of the sector
The system also should have facilities to query retrieval of information by the public
Note -4 establishment of an industry forum and processes for monitoring, evaluation of performance and implementing remedial actions.
i. a regulatory forum comprising members from consumer groups, operators, service provider, vendors and others concerned
ii. processes for monitoring and evaluating sector performance such as convening of public hearings periodically or as and when required, public opinion surveys
- system for reporting to the Govt. and policy formulators on review of policy, regulations, issues relating to tariffs, public interests and importance for realization of the goals of telecom development.