The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume III
Edited by Gary Madden
Chapter 11: International telecommunication regulation: a trophy or atrophy
11. International telecommunication regulation: a trophy or atrophy Tim Kelly INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS: A TROPHY? International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) are a remarkable document. The original Telegraph Regulations date back to the nineteenth century and are one of the longest surviving international treaties; certainly one of the oldest dealing with a technological subject. Over the years, millions of hours of time of government policy-makers and business people have been spent at international conferences in negotiating and renegotiating the treaty. As such, it has come to represent a trophy for those countries, especially developing countries, which see international telecommunications as an expression of national sovereignty, like their national ﬂag. In this view, the ITRs are a government’s sovereign right to regulate its international and domestic communications services. The current ITRs were adopted in 1988 in Melbourne and appear in the Final Acts of the World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference (WATTC-88).1 The 1988 Regulations abrogated and replaced previous, separate treaty texts for telephones and telegraphs (the 1973 Telegraph and Telephone Regulations). The ITRs are a binding treaty instrument and form part of the Administrative Regulations of the ITU.2 Under the instruments presently in force the ITRs formally complement the Constitution and Convention (CS/31).3 They are a sister treaty to the much longer Radio Regulations, which are amended whenever a World Radio Conference is held. ITRS: ATROPHY? The Melbourne conference remains as a traumatic memory for many of those who participated in it. The late 1980s represented the end of an era...
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