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• Creating conditions for competitive economics. The last 20 years have shown convincingly the power of markets to deliver services and good value-for-money in the telecommunications services industry. It is essential, therefore, that the market be not ignored.
GOVERNMENTS CAN MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT
Non-commercial and interventionist approaches should be undertaken only where necessary, and even then non-commercial provision should exploit markets where possible.
12.4 GOVERNMENTS CAN MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT
BWA technologies and their applications are in their early stages of development, and their potential economic and social benefits appear to be considerable. These new technologies and applications, however, are emerging in many different situations, often outside the operational landscape of traditional telecommunications services, and with new types of participants from both the private and public sectors.
BWA initiatives may be seen as disruptive and can hit unintended roadblocks in the form of local regulations and lack of understanding of their potential. Conversely, proper government support and incentives can accelerate their successful implementation at little cost and with significant immediate economic and social benefits for the poor.
Each country presents unique characteristics and conditions with respect to BWA deployment, from a geographic, social, economic, regulatory and telecommunications infrastructure standpoints. There are, however, several regulatory and economic factors that regulatory authorities should keep in mind while performing their duties. We will discuss some of the key issues which have a direct bearing on the success of BWA initiatives as the well as the resulting sustained balanced economic development.
Encourage the Aggregation of Demand for Bandwidth
One of the most important factors of success for wireless ISPs is a rapid increase in initial demand for connectivity, which allows for a faster break-even on operating expenses. This can be achieved through initial aggregation of demand based on applications for local public services such as schools, universities, health services and public administration. Business, agriculture and private use will inevitably add to the mix once service is available. In underserved areas, it is likely that initial viable aggregation will occur through the deployment of wireless Internet kiosks operated by entrepreneurs.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS: GOVERNMENT AND REGULATORS
Promote BWA Technologies
Identify, promote and establish national consensus on the potential benefits of BWA technologies. The success of any public technology initiative, including BWA deployment, depends heavily on a generally supportive environment, a prerequisite of which is that policy makers, the public and private sectors and the local media have adequate awareness about benefits and other key issues relevant to the technology in question. Raising awareness and building national consensus about the benefits of low-cost broadband wireless Internet infrastructure solutions is therefore an important step.
Identifying leading applications, which may drive the initial use of wireless Internet infrastructure and distribution, will further develop support for wireless Internet solutions among key constituents. Governments should also encourage local public services to use the infrastructure of local wireless ISPs. Local governments may also inventory those applications that may contribute most to bridging the digital divide both from a geographic and a social standpoint, and foster economic development, job creation and productivity gains in all economic sectors.
Create an Environment for Collaborations
Create an environment for collaborations at governmental and intergovernmental levels, including sharing best practices. It is anticipated that wireless technologies and applications will continue to evolve rapidly, which makes it important for governments and private sector leaders to remain abreast of other countries’ experiences, regulatory work at the international level, best practices and latest innovations. Governments must encourage knowledge sharing amongst their own constituents as well as with other countries to leverage the existing knowledge and experiences of other organizations. Sharing of ideas can be very productive, especially in the area of e-government, e-education and e-health.
Wireless Internet infrastructure and services can leverage a number of existing resources in any given country. Some of the areas and players which can be considered for fostering cooperation are:
• backbone (operators and owners of fibre-optic networks including governments, private sector networks, telecommunication companies, power-grid operators and satellite communications operators);
• location (owners of land and high points with adequate power supply and security to instal antennas, such as existing radio communications towers or possibly public-sector buildings such as post offices or other types of standard venues);