Mobile Communications Policies and National Broadband Strategies in Developed and Developing Countries: Lessons, Policy Issues and Challenges
42 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2015 Last revised: 14 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 15, 2015
The intelligent mobile phone has become the most widely used communications device in the world and the access device of choice in the developing world. The International Telecommunications Union’s report “The World in 2014: ICT Facts and Figures” estimates that there were some 7 billion mobile service subscriptions by the end of 2014, corresponding to a global population of some 7.3 billion. Mobile cellular penetration rates stand at 96% globally, 121% in developed countries and 90% in developing countries. Mobile broadband subscriptions have increased from 268 million in 2007 to 2.1 billion in 2013, an average annual growth rate of 40%.By the end of 2014 the number is expected to have reached 2.3 billion, with some 55% in developing countries, compared to only some 20% in 2008.There are now more than twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed ones.
Mobile broadband communications requires an integration of wireless and wireline networks. Spectrum is the lifeblood of mobile communications services. As high-speed mobile Internet access becomes more readily available and affordable, intelligent mobile devices (e.g. smart phones, tablet computers, laptops) are being used widely for bandwidth-hungry applications, in business as well as for personal and social purposes. This means that the demand for additional spectrum bandwidth is likely to increase rapidly and outstrip the supply for the next few years. Governments have a key role to play in efficiently allocating and managing the use of the spectrum and meeting the future demand for additional spectrum bandwidth. Issues and challenges related to spectrum allocation and management will become an important component of any national wireless broadband strategy.
This paper, which complements a Panel proposal, will focus on the impact of the widespread penetration and use of the mobile phone and other more intelligent mobile devices in both developing and developed countries. It will examine and compare the role that wireless access and mobile broadband play in various national and regional broadband strategies, and how mobile communications is integrated with the wireline component of such strategies. It will discuss and compare strategies being used in developed countries like the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the EU, and developing countries like Mexico, Brazil and India, among others.
The paper will examine and discuss issues such as: • What role does mobile broadband play in different national broadband strategies, and how is it integrated with the wireline component? • In addition to efficiently allocating and managing the use of the spectrum, what other roles can governments and regulators play in enabling the continued growth of mobile telecommunications services? • Could/should revenues derived from spectrum auctions be used for targeted subsidies or other demand and supply side initiatives?
We wish to find out what has worked, what did not, the problems encountered and whether there are lessons to be learned that are of general applicability, as well as for particular countries including developing ones like India. We wish to explore the possibilities and limitations of learning from other nations’ and regions’ experiences, identifying common policy challenges and medium term research requirements of interest to the TPRC community.
Keywords: Mobile communications, broadband strategies
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation