Historically, utility and service sectors have changed hands gradually from being Government ownership to public and subsequently private ownership. While the timing and the choice of sectors for liberalization varied, the underlying principles and approaches followed a common template globally. One such development was the creation of an effective sector regulator to promote the orderly growth of the industry.

Today, the ICT sector is deregulated and liberalized across the world. The stakeholders in the ICT sector include the Service providers, the Government and the consumers. While the Government is primarily responsible for policy formulation and implementation, the broad responsibilities of the regulator include the orderly development of the sector, protection of consumer interests and protecting the interests of the government especially in the area of national security. The regulators generally work on certain basic principles such as – ensuring level playing field and transparency in operations, promoting market competition and moving towards regulatory forbearance. The regulatory role encompasses the economic, technological, social and consumer protection facets. Generally, a technology neutral approach is followed.

The rate of technological change is probably the highest in the ICT Sector, as compared to other liberalized sectors. Given these rapid technological advancements, the biggest challenge for the ICT Sector Regulator(s) is to keep themselves updated. The Regulatory framework should facilitate fast adoption of the technological developments, and at the same time monitor and regulate the sector effectively. 

While the ICT Sector regulators in developed and emerging countries have made strides in this direction, the regulatory framework in smaller countries are getting modernized at a slower pace. The pace of regulatory updation is even slower in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

In this paper, we present our research findings regarding the ICT Regulatory framework in about 30 Small Island Developing States (SIDS). For this research we have chosen the key regulatory areas such as licensing, spectrum management, tariff, number portability and market competition.

SIDS Economy

Economy of any country plays a major role in shaping the regulatory framework of the country. So before we dwell into the research findings on the regulatory areas, it may be a good idea to take a quick look at the overall SIDS Economy. More than half of the SIDS fall within the Upper Middle-Income bracket, while remaining are scattered across other income brackets. Interestingly about 25% of the SIDS are in High Income economies. For these handful of rich islands, Tourism and Financial Services have been the major engines of growth. On the other end of the spectrum, islands such as Comoros and Haiti are struggling abject poverty and underdevelopment. Some of the other island nations are progressing steadily and are on the verge of breaking into higher income brackets. The graph below shows the distribution of the SIDS based on their per capita income in PPP terms.

Figure 1: Comparison of Small Island Developing States by their GDP/Capita (USD – PPP)

Open the full whitepaper for comprehensive insights into areas such as the overall regulatory outlook, licensing, spectrum management, number portability, and more. 

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