LIRNEasia’s maiden telecom reform course was successfully completed by 36 participants from 18 countries. The 10th telecom reform course was co-organised with LIRNE.NET, in association with the School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University, and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. Themed ‘Catalyzing change: Strategies to achieve connectivity and convergence,’ the course took place at the Elizabeth Hotel in Singapore on the 24th-30th September 2005.
The course aimed to prepare regulators to face the challenges that lie ahead to achieve connectivity and convergence. One of the key issues that much of the discussion focussed on was VOIP or voice over internet protocol, an application that is revolutionizing the voice market, bringing down costs significantly; this will have an enormous bearing on universal access, given the ‘right’ regulation. In fact, IP networks are becoming the universal means of transporting any type of communication service; as Bill Melody put it, soon we will be talking of ‘EOIP,’ or everything over IP. A tour of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) Proof of Concept Lab, facilitated by Andrew Haire, Assistant Director General (Telecom), where a brief presentation of the technical aspects of VOIP complemented the course content.
Participants were welcomed by Randolph Kluver, Executive Director, Singapore Internet Research Centre & Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University and Tan Geok Leng, Chief Technology Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. The course was inaugurated with a talk by Mr Satish Ranade, the first Company Secretary of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL), the Indian international telecom giant, now a part of the Tata Group of Companies. Mr. Ranade recounted his experiences of VSNL’s two recent acquisition bids (acquisition of the Tyco Global Network (TGN) and Teleglobe) drawing on experiences of facing varying regulatory environments, illustrating the importance of effective regulation in the telecom sector.
A WDR Expert Forum was held on Friday 30th September, to present current research to the participants, and also obtain their feedback. This included an assessment of the first Asian least-cost subsidy auction, an Asian Backbone study, a study of universal service instruments in India, studies of innovative access models in Indonesia and Bangladesh, and telecommunications user studies in African and Asia.
In addition to lectures delivered by Professors William Melody, Managing Director LIRNE.NET and WDR, and Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director, LIRNEasia, several guest lecturers conducted sessions over the four day course. Amongst these were Ewan Sutherland, Executive Director, International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG); Rajendra Singh, Secretary, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI); Professor Jens Arnbak, former Chairman OP TA ( Netherlands Regulatory Authority); Milagros Rivera Sanchez, Associate Professor & Head of Communications and New Media Programme, National University of Singapore (NUS); and Chanuka Wattegama, Senior Researcher, LIRNEasia . The combined experience of the lecturers includes that of past and current regulators, policy advisors and researchers in the ICT field.
Participants came from regulators, government, civil society, operators and academia, from top and junior levels. A range of countries throughout Asia, as well as Africa, Europe and North America were represented: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tajikistan and Thailand. This was the most diverse group that LIRNE.NET has had in its history of training courses, bringing to the table a wider set of perspectives and experiences to share.