3.3.7 ICT Sector Regulations and School Connectivity

School connectivity requires access to telecommunications networks and services. It makes sense, then, that the degree of telecommunications liberalization impacts school connectivity, since market restrictions result in less competition, higher prices, poor quality of service and fewer connectivity options.

The benefits of market liberalization increase as more service providers enter the market and competition intensifies. However, not all the countries that have introduced a legal framework for a liberalized ICT market have succeeded in creating true competition. Continuing problems may stem from regulatory barriers to entry, including exclusivity clauses in the licenses held by existing operators, as well as ineffective or incomplete regulations on spectrum management, universal access, interconnection and even numbering. Competition in international connectivity (i.e., sub-marine cables) and access to services such as international and Internet gateways is key to lowering the cost of bandwidth and broadband prices for consumers. It is important to establish effective interconnection and gateway regulatory frameworks that introduce new models of sharing and collocation and reduce barriers to existing private, government and international networks. Effective reforms along these lines can encourage existing providers and new market entrants to expand into broadband and other services.

Recognizing the importance of ICTs, the Moroccan government in the 1990s created an enabling regime for the telecommunications sector that embodied concrete liberalization and privatization measures. This led to the reduction of telecommunications costs and resulted in a rise in the number of cyber cafés and access to computers and Internet, even in small towns. One benefit was the integration of ICTs into education.

Telecommunications tends to be highly regulated in most countries. This can have both negative and positive repercussions for school connectivity. There may be regulatory restrictions that inhibit schools’ connectivity options, such as a requirement to use only licensed operators or the inability to use certain radio spectrum frequencies.

There are positive benefits of regulation, too -- both direct and indirect. For example, regulatory tools to expand Internet access in rural or remote areas can benefit schools by making infrastructure more available. In some cases, there is an explicit school connectivity provision within the regulatory framework.

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