Telecommunications Infrastructure and Economic Development

From October 16, 2008 to October 17, 2008

Programme and presentations of October 2008 seminar.

There are many ways to examine how telecommunications infrastructure, including broadband, relates to economic development. One that comes in mind is a country’s global competitiveness, and index for measuring such competitiveness ranks business competitiveness across countries compared with infrastructure development. But if we want to better understand the effects of information communications technology (ICT) on economic growth and productivity, we might consider the broader context in which ICT is deployed and the conditions under which it has most effectively contributed to economic growth.

Public initiatives and regulators policies have a great importance on the telecommunications infrastructures deployment, while developing a vision and global strategy, investing in infrastructure or stimulating these investments, promoting universal service and proposing government services (healthcare, education..).

Infrastructure Investments significantly increased from the 90s. It is especially the case in mobile networks which have a great importance in developing countries. Empirical studies also show that competition had a significant impact on network deployment.

Regulatory policies, even if real impacts are mixed from one country to another depending from specific needs and constraints, are also of great importance.  Beyond the creation of an Independent Regulatory Authority, actions undertaken by this regulator allow to give credibility and sustainability to governments promotion of private investments.

Finally, business competitiveness is inextricably connected to innovation. The countries with the highest levels of competitiveness have innovation-driven economies and these countries tend to make extensive and sophisticated use of ICT.

During the last decade, telecommunications policies undoubtedly allowed to give access to a large part of the population to telecommunications services, in particular, telephony services. Nevertheless, the “digital divide” at the global level, is still a reality and emergence of new technologies has to avoid enlarging it again, especially between rural and urban zones.

To take stock on this matter and contribute to the debate, the Innovation and Regulation in Digital Services Chair organized a seminar in Paris on October 16 and 17, 2008, in order to provide a platform for researchers, professionals, regulators and policy makers to discuss the latest research in this domain. This seminar brought together representatives from Latin America, Africa, United-States and Europe, to address broadband and economic performance in developed countries, development of mobile networks in developing countries, role of market and institutions in the deployment od telecommunications infrastructures and economic development.

In this framework, the Chair asked to Lynne Holt and Mark Jamison a specific publication on Boadband and the lessons from the US experience.