Edited by Colin Robinson
Chapter 6: Converging Communications: Implications for Regulation – Mark Armstrong, Chairman’s Comments – David Edmonds
This chapter is about the current and future market for electronic communications and how it should be regulated. The word ‘convergence’ refers to the observation that the same communications services can now be supplied over a variety of transmission infrastructures, such as telephone lines, mobile networks, satellite and over-the-air broadcasting. One can now watch TV and make voice telephone calls via a PC, and one can use email via a TV (together with a telephone line). See Figures 6.1 and 6.2 for a schematic description of the old and the new order in electronic communications. Given that different regulatory bodies and regulatory regimes are typically associated with these different infrastructures, there is then the danger of asymmetries and inefficiencies emerging. Many of the existing structures are a legacy of the old era when there was a one-to-one correspondence between services and delivery systems: delivery systems could not carry a variety of services, and services could not be carried over a variety of delivery systems. (See Figure 6.1.) This made separate regulation based on delivery systems, while not necessary, at least fairly harmless.
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