This Chapter addresses trends in network and service convergence, its implications for broadband competition, innovation and investment dynamics, and provides a set of good practices to respond to opportunities and challenges. It examines changes in the whole value chain of broadband access and services and the need for them to be addressed in a holistic manner, covering not only network infrastructure and traditional service providers, but also content, application and the so-called over-the-top providers (OTTs). This Chapter highlights the main policy and regulatory practices on convergence related to convergent regulators, convergent licensing regimes and bundling practices, as well as issues related to Internet openness.
1. Historically, distinct communication networks and their underlying technologies provided voice, data, radio and television services. Today, communication networks are shifting towards IP-based solutions that allow, in conjunction with developments in terminal devices, access to IP-based applications on a multitude of devices, a multi-layered process that can be termed digital convergence. Convergence between traditional telecommunication operators and content providers (e.g. video delivery), has increasingly led to new products and service offerings by all players in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region.
2. This process of transition from the PSTN (public switched telephone networks) to IP-based networks is closely linked to market-based broadband developments. Broadband has facilitated convergence and convergence has stimulated demand for new services, which in turn has been a catalyst for the growth of broadband. Therefore, consideration of convergence plays an important role in the development of a forward-looking broadband strategy.
3. Convergence is fostering competition, content creation, collaboration, interoperability, mobility and product and service innovation. At the same time, however, convergence poses new challenges for businesses, consumers and governments in the LAC region, some of which are described below and addressed later in this Chapter.
Effects of convergence
4. The implications of convergence can be considered in three major categories:
• Disruptions to the traditional communication industry. Due to technological innovation, digitalisation and increased connectivity, previously separated value chains (such as fixed/mobile and telecommunication/broadcasting) are evolving into mixed value chains of access, which include content distribution service and device providers. Convergence has encouraged the upgrading and remixing of new configurations of products and services. The advent of the so-called over-the-top (OTT) players is having profound implications for the traditional telecommunication and broadcasting industry. Among them, the creation of new business models has blurred the lines between fixed and mobile communication services, as well as between telecommunication and content providers. For example, the removal of the boundary between fixed-wireless and cellular connectivity, and between broadcasting and Internet services, through catch-up television, video-on-demand, streaming, cloud-based television and others.
• Increased choice and new vulnerabilities for consumers. Users are at the centre of digital service delivery by their increased empowerment in deciding what they want to access, when and where. They also are creating their own content and services and becoming entrepreneurs. Increased availability of broadband and convergence trends are fostering the rise of the “on demand” market, which is connecting consumers and producers directly and enabling customisation of goods and services. At the same time, the advent of new services is changing the relationship between suppliers and consumers and the digitalisation of media is increasing data security and privacy vulnerabilities, requiring consumers to assess more carefully what they are sharing and contracting.
• Regulatory boundaries have become less clear challenging governments’ ability to deal with cross-cutting issues. Prior to convergence, communication regulation was dealt with in separate silos and regulators would only have to deal with a few established traditional players. However, convergence has made the borders between different sectors of policy and regulatory frameworks less clear, affecting the ability of regulators to impose and enforce regulations and requiring co-operation among government departments and regulators to address cross-cutting issues. Jurisdictional issues are also becoming more relevant, as regulators and other national bodies may find difficulties to implement their national legal frameworks on services provided by players established in other countries. Additionally, the rise of new technologies and players has been driving policy makers to rethink their traditional approaches, creating opportunities to lift some legacy requirements and to build, as much as possible, more technologically neutral and future-proof regulatory and policy frameworks. In many cases, this has led to a review of regulations and regulatory bodies leading to a merging of existing bodies.
5. This Chapter aims at bringing awareness of the opportunities and challenges brought forth by convergence in the LAC region. As broadband speeds increase and the networks become more capable of delivering added-value services, policy makers in the LAC area will have to deal in the coming years with issues related to, for example, adaptation to their own communications governance models to convergence trends, treatment of bundles and convergent offers and Internet openness.
6. While Internet openness is a multidimensional concept including technical, economic, social and other aspects (OECD, 2016), this Chapter will address a limited set of policy and regulatory issues related to Internet national governance arrangements, traffic prioritisation and network neutrality, zero rating, liability of Internet intermediaries and IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). Issues related to convergence of communication providers with other adjacent sectors of the economy, such as banking, transport, tourism and so forth will not be touched upon in this chapter, but the principles introduced in this section should offer a good start to consider other cross-sectorial implications of ubiquitous connectivity.
Key policy objectives for the LAC region
7. The evolving and multi-layered convergence of networks and services is driving policy makers to reassess their policy and regulatory frameworks in order to adjust them to current and future developments. In order to do so, policy objectives such as the ones exemplified below should be at the centre of convergent policy:
• Expand access to and use of services, applications and content. Users should be at the centre of communication policies. Policy makers should focus on frameworks that ensure that consumers and businesses benefit from expanded choice in the context of convergent networks and services with respect to connectivity, access and use of IP-based services, applications, content and terminal devices. Consumers should be able to access any service at any time and from any place, and the regulatory framework should not only allow, but also facilitate the development of convergent services empowering consumer choice and ensuring consumer protection and enforcing consumer’s rights, irrespective of the supporting technology and type of provider supplying the service.
• Encouraging investment and competition in a convergent environment. Policy makers should establish an environment conducive to competition and investment, so that the multitude of bundled or standalone voice, data and video services in the IP convergent world provided by different actors as access and content providers can proliferate and reach users in an affordable and efficient manner (further addressed in Chapter 3 on Competition and Infrastructure Bottlenecks).
• Promoting free flow of information and innovation. Governments should promote the free flow of information within and outside their borders to spur innovation, knowledge sharing and trade. To facilitate the objectives policy makers need to uphold the open, distributed and interconnected nature of the Internet and ensure the well-functioning of its architecture and interoperability.
Tools for measurement and analysis in the LAC region
8. In order to assist policy makers in fulfilling their objectives, it is crucial to conduct regular assessments of the rapidly changing and converging communication ecosystem. To construct a policy framework adapted to the emerging challenges of convergence, policy makers should be informed by sound evidence. Some of the indicators below offer a roadmap of possible areas where data is needed for understanding some of the convergence issues presented here:
Understanding the main players in the converging ecosystem
• Number of subscribers and revenues of integrated service operators (offering either fixed and mobile services or voice and broadcasting services) and data on market shares and evolution trends (such as recommended in Chapter 3 on Competition and Infrastructure Bottlenecks).
• Data on Over-the-top Internet (OTTs) providers competing for “traditional” communication services (such as voice and audio-video services or VoIP), including collection of number of subscribers, revenues and any other data that would be relevant to understand competition trends and evolution of the market.
Assessing the state of bundled services
• Collection of data on bundled services such as the number and percentage of bundled services, prices paid, data caps and length in time of the offer (Figure 1).
• Development of methodologies for market analysis of convergent offers.
Benchmarking the Internet’s openness
• Quantitative and qualitative information compilation and analysis of complaints or reports of blocking and throttling by consumers and service providers (including conflicts between operators).
• Collection of information on peering and transit agreements for monitoring the interconnection market.
• Collection of information on bottlenecks and restrictions to openness across the whole value chain for broadband-based services (network providers, as well as content, application and terminal equipment providers).
• Collection of data on zero rating offers, when they are permitted and exist. Information about any other offers where broadband access to contents and application is restricted is also useful to assess trends, bottlenecks and dominance issues.
• Measuring the extension of use of IPv6 in the country and the proportion of government services supported by IPv6 (Box 1).
9. Improving network parameters collection, surveys and statistical systems to measure the changing access and use of communication networks by consumers, businesses and institutions in order to provide reliable measures of convergence is an ongoing exercise and particularly important for being prepared for convergence trends.
10. A major challenge to benchmarking convergence resides on the fact that the majority of regulatory authorities do not have the legal competency to request information from many of the service providers (e.g. OTT) that do not classify as their traditionally regulated communication service providers. This absence of mandate affects the assessment of the impact of these new services and reduces the ability of regulators and policy makers to have a clear picture of market developments and the fulfilment of policy objectives.
11. The solution to this challenge may be to expand the scope of the information gathering mandate, while paying attention not to over-burden firms and taking advantage of new data collection and analysis methods, e.g. the exploitation of large volumes of data or “big data” (OECD, 2015) may serve in the future to satisfy policy information requirements. New methods for collecting statistical information and the data produced by them have been receiving considerable attention due to their timeliness, detail and frequency. They are likely to be increasingly used by national statistic offices and regulators to complement their traditional statistics on issues such as quality of service, security incidents and price statistics (Reimsbach-Kounatze, 2015).
Overview of the situation in the LAC region
12. The LAC region has seen different levels of development in the implementation of convergence-related regulation and policies. While some countries in the region have been at the forefront of some issues and policy development, such as on network neutrality and IPv6, a general overview of the region shows that most countries still have not addressed key issues related to convergence. It may be the case that many of these emerging issues have yet to affect LAC countries as much as some OECD countries, due to the higher broadband penetration in the latter. This is likely to change, however, as broadband penetration rates increase in the LAC region.
34. Policy makers need to respond to the changes brought about by convergence, over broadband networks, with a whole-of-government approach. This is because these changes touch on a number of different sectors and this increases the chance of overlap between the responsibilities of different agencies and ministries. It is important to address all market actors in any review of legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure a balanced approach across all services. The emergence of OTT content service providers and the popularisation of triple- or quadruple-play service bundles, including premium content, for example, have made boundaries between content and data transmission difficult to draw (OECD, 2014). Other issues, such as must-carry/must-offer obligations, copyright and retransmission issues are not easily classified in any of the two categories (audio-visual content or telecommunication regulation). Convergent trends have very relevant effects on competition dynamics among broadband and content/application providers that need to be analysed taking a holistic approach. Likewise, cross-sector mergers and acquisitions and market analysis (of fixed and mobile, content providers and telecommunication providers or OTTs) have a profound influence on the need to reinforce collaboration between competition and communication authorities.
35. There are several types of institutional arrangements that address regulatory convergence when assigning powers to the different agencies in OECD countries. Some combine powers of ex-ante with ex-post regulation, such as in the Netherlands; others combine ex-ante regulators of several sectors into a single body, such as in Australia; and others go beyond to create a unique regulatory authority for all sectors acting both ex-ante and ex-post, such as in Spain. In general, converged regulators address in a holistic way convergent regulatory issues, and to serve as a one-stop shop for stakeholders, simplifying regulatory decisions, saving public resources and facilitating knowledge sharing.
36. Converged regulators integrating powers for both audio-visual and telecommunication services, including content-related issues for video/television services, can assess and take regulatory measures on the full value chain of communications services (from networks to content), identify bottlenecks and detect possible leverage of market power in adjacent markets (such as bundling issues). Converged entities that combine both ex-ante and ex-post powers have a better ability to co-ordinate regulatory decisions, and improve consistency, coherence and enforcement.
37. Any reform seeking to address convergence should be complemented with new tools, procedures and updating information requirements. This is especially the case given the challenge of collecting data from OTTs and analysing their effects on broadband markets to inform policy making and regulation. By way of example there is a need to take into account substitutability of new services wrought through convergence as well as ensuring the availability of statistical and technical skills and resources to undertake competition analysis. As well as Mexico in the LAC region, other OECD countries that have recently introduced a converged structure for their communication authorities include Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain. These countries join those such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
38. Licensing requirements in broadcasting and telecommunication should be reduced to the minimum necessary, to allow a facilitated entry of new providers and to promote innovation and competition. This can be a notification-based, class-licensing approach, as is already the case for telecommunication services in most OECD countries. One of the few exceptions to this rule would be services using scarce spectrum resources, where licences involved coverage and QoS obligations, that should be consulted with the regulatory authority to ensure that competition is encouraged. In a converged environment, the difference between telecommunication and audio-visual services may no longer be as relevant, especially in the scenario where audio-visual services are provided over the Internet. Here, it is advisable to keep licensing requirements as low as possible. Some countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region have made considerable progress in this respect. Peru, in 2006, Colombia, in 2009, and Mexico, in 2014, for example, have recently taken steps to simplify licensing requirements for most services (Box 4).
39. For licensing, Colombia and Mexico, take a similar approach to that of the European Union and only require previous notification to the relevant authority (Box 5). In the United Kingdom, for example, television services are licensed by Ofcom in an approximate time frame of 25 working days (non-committal) for a USD 3 500 fee. Video-on-demand services are licensed by the ATVOD (The Authority for Television on Demand) based on providers’ revenue, starting at some USD 250.
40. In general, operators should be allowed to provide any service, facilitating economics of scope and enabling of convergent offers, on a national basis, which would promote economies of scale and any potential issue for competition and obligations should be addressed following a market analysis.
41. Broadband IP-based networks facilitate a bundling of communication services. These range from basic double-play to triple and quadruple-play offers of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access, pay-television, fixed telephony and mobile voice. Operators in the LAC region are increasingly including innovative services in their bundles, such as those resulting from partnerships with OTT providers as well as those such as home monitoring, mobile payments, e-learning applications, computer security, and cloud storage services.
42. Bundles can be beneficial to consumers to the extent that it allows them to purchase several services with a significant discount over the sum of prices for stand-alone equivalents (OECD 2011, OECD 2006) and can also reduce complexity of subscribing to multiple services of multiple providers. Conversely, bundling of services may also complicate choices for consumers by increasing complexity, thus making price comparisons more difficult, and reducing bill transparency. Operators may also benefit from bundling practices as it may lead to cost savings, via economies of scope and scale or simplified distribution and marketing, which in competitive conditions should, in turn, benefit consumers via price reductions. Bundling services also allows for the use of a sole technology platform (such as through the use of “boxes” that allow for the provision of triple play bundles over the same device (OECD, 2011).
43. One of the biggest challenges of bundling practices for policy makers, however, is to determine its impact on competition. Operators that are in a position to offer bundles based on their own infrastructure may leverage dominance from one market to other markets and alternative operators may not be able to compete on an equal footing. This is why competent authorities should take into account bundling as a potential barrier to competition when performing market analysis, while also taking into account potential benefits that these offers may bring to consumers. Some good practices in this area are summarised below:
• Obligation to provide separate prices for standalone services and billing. A lack of transparent information about services and their prices makes consumer price comparisons more difficult and may lead to market inefficiencies. To facilitate consumer choice it is good practice to require that the prices of bundled services are provided separately. Regulators and consumer-protection agencies should encourage providers to make available more information on the characteristics of packages they are selling and to make prices clear and understandable for consumers. Many regulators, including in LAC area, have sought to increase bill transparency by issuing regulation that requires operators to disaggregate the prices of each service component (including handsets, if included) in the bundle. These practices are in line with what is set out in the OECD Consumer Toolkit and its application to communication services (OECD, 2008; OECD, 2010; OECD, 2013). Additionally, websites and tools that can help users compare bundled offers are beneficial to consumers and lead to stronger price and service competition. Regulators are in a good position to provide these tools to the public (Box 6).
• Monitoring the market for anti-competitive practices. Regulators and competition authorities need to work together to address problems with market dominance in bundles. Most importantly, these authorities should co-operate to develop new market analysis frameworks and tools to address issues related to bundles and cross effects, such as those between competition in content provision and competition in telecommunication and OTT services (Box 7).
44. Some additional good practices, covered in Chapter 3, on competition and infrastructure bottlenecks, can be especially relevant when addressing competition issues in a convergent world: encouraging inter-platform competition to ensure replicability of bundle offers by alternative operators and regulating when needed wholesale markets.
45. Additionally, policy makers should, when possible, treat with careful consideration exclusive long-term deals for premium content, especially when supply of these premium contents is bundled with broadband access. The impact on market competition of premium content acquisition by dominant providers should be assessed with caution and, if needed, obligations to share content can be required to ensure competition.
46. Traditional telecommunication operators have widely regarded VoIP services provided by third parties as a threat to their revenues from legacy voice services. In response, some of them have excluded, surcharged, restricted or price-discriminated the use of VoIP services, absent explicit network neutrality rules or when permitted by the regulator.
47. Any efforts to block VoIP service have not been successful in discouraging offers by content and application providers, such as Skype or Viber. Other OTT messaging applications equipped with voice features such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime and LINE, have proven popular in the LAC region as elsewhere around the world. Some operators have sought to restructure tariffs, such as by including unlimited voice and text for particular locations or destinations, or have included their own or third-party VoIP pre-installed applications in order to increase the attractiveness of their own services in the face of competition from OTTs (e.g. “TWNEL” from Tigo Colombia).
48. Authorities should analyse if and when VoIP services should be regulated in their countries against their policy objectives. In many OECD and LAC countries, regulators have taken the approach that VoIP providers that act as traditional voice operators and connect to the PSTN (having numbers assigned and a certain size of subscribers or revenue, for example) should be required to follow similar obligations. In Japan, for example, there are various requirements if a telephone number is assigned. At the same time, other countries such as Australia, implement these obligations only to network operators.
49. A neutral approach focusing on services provided rather than technology may help to clarify some issues of applying obligations and including VoIP in numbering regulation frameworks. Belize and Colombia offer an interesting example of technology neutrality, while Chile is a good case of allocating “nomadic” or “non-geographic” numbers for VoIP services (Box 8). Other issues such as number portability are likely to arise in the future in the LAC area. In most OECD countries, portability between fixed voice service and equivalent VoIP service has already been enabled. In addition, local number portability to VoIP and portability between VoIP services can become more important if they become increasingly more used in replacing existing fixed phones.
55. The Internet’s decentralised nature and openness to new devices, applications and services has played an important role in advancing convergence and in its success in fostering the free flow of information, innovation, creativity and economic growth. This openness stems from the continuously evolving interaction and independence among the Internet’s various technical components, enabling collaboration and innovation while continuing to operate independently from one another. It stems also from globally accepted, consensus driven technical standards that support global product markets and communications.
56. At the international level, the roles, openness, and competencies of the global multi-stakeholder institutions that govern standards for different layers of Internet components have served to expand the decentralised network of networks that the Internet is today. The OECD Internet Policy Making Principles (2011) offer a reference framework, not only for OECD countries, but also those in the LAC region as indicated by its endorsement by countries such as Costa Rica and Colombia (Box 10).
57. At the national level, multi-stakeholder arrangements for governing Internet issues are also advisable, such as exemplified by the case of CGI.br in Brazil or the Internet Advisory Board in Costa Rica (Box 11). Maintaining technology neutrality and appropriate quality for all broadband networks and services is also important to ensure an open and dynamic Internet environment.
58. Broadband networks are a key platform for innovation, economic opportunities and civic engagement. For this reason, the extent to which these networks are open to facilitating these objectives has become a chief concern for all stakeholders. In the network neutrality or traffic prioritisation debates, for example, different actors bring their own assessment of the value others bring during commercial negotiations for the exchange of traffic. For the most part, the system works with extraordinary efficiency with most of the thousands of networks that exchange Internet traffic doing so without a written contract or formal agreement.
59. In this increasingly converged environment, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) become gateways for content and applications as they control the final access to consumers by content providers. This does not mean that IP termination for content and applications should be regulated, as the nature of these markets tends to be two-sided, where content providers also hold considerable bargaining power, but rather that policy makers should monitor for any market failures and, above all, encourage competition for broadband access. Some good practices related to Internet openness issues are provided below:
• Policies for traffic prioritisation/network neutrality. Prioritisation of certain applications or services may raise competition concerns related to the leveraging of dominant positions or favouring one competitor against another. If there are no particular issues in a market, due to sufficient competition, and the available information suggests an efficient exchange market is in place, policy makers can forbear from direct action. This strategy is reliant on policy makers and regulators having appropriate information in areas such as the competitiveness of broadband access, the effectiveness of transit and peering markets and the efficiency of IXPs. Policy makers in some countries, including in the LAC region, have chosen to directly disallow prioritization by ISPs based on their assessment of available competition or its potential implications for competition (Box 12). In these cases, they should allow reasonable traffic management and the development of new innovative services that may need prioritisation, such as those in the telemedicine field. There should be no need in principle to act at the wholesale level, such as regulating interconnection agreements, as long as a market has sufficient competition.
• Policies to address zero rating practices. Offering certain services based on a zero rate to consumers is becoming a common practice in some countries in the LAC region. This practice may in some circumstances promote competition, in markets where there is a sufficient number of players to offer choices for consumers, and in that way benefit existing and new users by providing innovative and less expensive offers. However, zero-rating may also raise serious concerns in markets with insufficient competition, by favouring some applications or over-the-top service providers, very likely already dominant, at the expense of smaller or emerging ones. Additionally, zero-rate offers that result in “walled-gardens” may limit the Internet experience of consumers, raising public policy concerns. In this context, when zero rating is permitted, it is advisable that policy makers monitor its existence and effects, and continue to encourage competition at the broadband services level, since zero-rating becomes less of an issue when there is increased competition and higher data allowances. Directly prohibiting zero-rating may have implications for a market where there is lower competition for transit and may reduce the effectiveness of peering. Nevertheless, in any market with limited competition for access, zero-rating can affect competition among content providers. In general, zero-rating effects on competition and on consumers experience should be analysed on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the situation, regulators may consider that zero-rating should not be allowed to preserve competition and/or Internet openness, while in other situations, mainly when there is sufficient competition, it may not have relevant negative implications to justify intervention.
• Limiting liability of Internet intermediaries. Internet intermediaries (e.g. ISPs, search engines, portals) host, transmit and index and give access to content originated by third parties. These are critical attributes to fostering digital economies and the benefits this brings for meeting policy objectives. Accordingly, a good practice for policy makers is to set appropriate limitations of liability for Internet intermediaries with regard to third party content. Internet intermediaries can play an important role by addressing and deterring illegal activity, fraud and misleading and unfair practices conducted over their networks and services. Policy makers may, therefore, choose to convene stakeholders in a transparent, multi-stakeholder process to identify the appropriate circumstances under which Internet intermediaries could take steps to educate users, assist rights holders in enforcing their rights or reduce illegal content. Any policy in this regard should seek to minimise burdens on intermediaries and in ensuring legal certainty for them.
60. In mid-2014, the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC), the organization responsible for assigning Internet resources in the region, announced the exhaustion of its IPv4 address pool and expressed its concern regarding the pace of the deployment of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) in the region (LACNIC, 2014). The IPv6 protocol was developed by the IETF in 1996 as a response to the evident rapid growth of the Internet after its commercialisation in the 1990s. While hardware manufacturers, network vendors and the software development community have been ready for more than a decade, the deployment and roll out of IPv6 is still at an early stage in the LAC region, as elsewhere.
61. Following the announcement by LACNIC that its pool of available IPv4 addresses reached the 4.1 million mark, this triggered stricter Internet resource assignment policies. In practice, this means that IPv4 addresses are now exhausted for Latin American and Caribbean operators. As agreed by the regional community, LACNIC’s pool of IPv4 addresses is considered officially exhausted and the Gradual Exhaustion and New Entrants policies have come into effect, introducing new procedures and requirements for those requesting resources. Some two million of the remaining addresses may be assigned during this phase, in blocks of limited sizes. In addition, an organisation may only request additional resources six months after receiving a prior assignment. Once these two million IPv4 addresses are exhausted, LACNIC members will no longer be able to receive any IPv4 assignments. During this final phase only new members will be able to request IPv4 addresses and only be able to receive one assignment from this space.
62. In 2008, OECD governments signed the Seoul Declaration on the Future of the Internet Economy which included specific mention to the transition to IPv6, declaring the need to “encourage the adoption of the new version of the Internet protocol (IPv6), in particular through its timely adoption by governments as well as large private sector users of IPv4 addresses, in view of the ongoing IPv4 depletion” (OECD, 2008).
63. Governments can facilitate adoption through a number of policy measures and actions. The following measures have been acknowledged to create some positive effects on the deployment of IPv6:
• Adoption of IPv6 within government agencies. Transition deadlines, IPv6 Days or switchover dates can incentivise regional and local governments to migrate their internal network and services to IPv6. This can be very useful in stimulating human capital development on how to implement IPv6 and more broadly stimulate the expertise among third-party service and support firms that can facilitate IPv6 deployment.
• Requirement of IPv6 compatibility in procurement procedures. Several countries have incorporated obligations for procurement of IPv6 compliant hardware (CPEs, network equipment), software (in-house applications) and services (e.g. requirement to the Internet service provider to support IPv6).
• Monitor the impact of CGNAT in the quality of service. Significant efforts have been put to ensure that IPv4 can continue to work in an environment of address depletion. However, the use of carrier-grade NAT techniques or CGNAT in large service providers is slowing down the adoption of IPv6. Authorities should encourage ISPs to provide unique and global IP addresses to their subscribers, whether IPv4, IPv6 or both. A possible action would be to monitor the effects of CGNAT in the quality of service of end-users as a tool for the regulator to detect bottlenecks in specific service providers.
• Support and promote IPv6 awareness. Building IPv6 awareness requires the collaboration between governments, the private sector and the Internet technical community. Examples of good practices are the organisation of capacity building activities to educate service providers and prepare them for the transition. The activities can be organised jointly by government, universities and ISPs. The technical community provides ongoing operational support and technical training via their outreach programmes.
• Creation of multi-stakeholder IPv6 work groups. The establishment of task forces coordinating the transition among ISPs, government entities and other players is a very effective way to encourage and support the transition to IPv6. In addition, observatories on IPv6 implementation can disseminate case studies and implementation plans used by institutions. Brazil, for instance, has formed a national IPv6 task force led by the regulator to co-ordinate efforts between government, ISPs, universities and LACNIC.
• IPv6 Research and Development. The implications of the transition to IPv6 and the implications for the network topology and availability of domestic Internet services may benefit from research and development efforts. Some examples of research projects could be the establishment of a networking environment to benchmark different migration strategies, carry out partial migrations and measure the effects on its end users, simulate incidents affecting core components of the national infrastructure and assess its costs and risks, and so forth
64. The Number Resource Organisation (NRO) , of which LACNIC is a member, recognises the role of government’s organisations in the transition to IPv6 and suggests them to coordinate with industry to support and promote awareness and educational activities; adopt regulatory and economic incentives to encourage IPv6 adoption; require IPv6 compatibility in procurement procedures; and officially adopt IPv6 within government agencies.
65. In the LAC region, a group led by Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru developed a number of policies aimed at increasing the adoption of IPv6 within Government and associated agencies. Brazil followed another approach and established a multi-sectorial IPv6 workgroup to coordinate the support to the service providers. Other countries have benefited by the support from the Internet technical community, mainly through LACNIC (Box 12).
Guiding principles for adapting regulatory frameworks for convergence
30. Given the increasing convergence towards IP broadband networks it is necessary to review whether existing policy and regulator frameworks will continue to apply and what measures should be taken to facilitate and seize the benefits of the transition.
31. A first step in assessing if the current communication policy and regulatory frameworks should be updated involves evaluating whether the reasons that inspired and justified their introduction still hold in the new environment. Such an evaluation should come from the understanding that regulation is usually applied to correct a market failure, such as lack of competitive choice, resource scarcity or to safeguard public policy objectives (e.g. widespread access, public safety, emergency communications, economic growth, privacy, consumer empowerment, security, and so forth). In some areas where traditionally there has been market failure, convergence may have created opportunities for market players to play a greater role by increasing choice and diversity and reducing scarcity, while in others market failures may still exist.
32. OECD countries have carried out regulatory reforms in the light of convergence and some of the general principles guiding these policy principles can be used as a source of good practices for the LAC region:
• Simplify. The guiding principle behind creating a regulatory framework adapted to take into account convergence should be that of simplifying rules and procedures. Complex regulatory systems increase costs of transaction, especially for new entrants and new services.
• Uphold technologically-neutral regulation when possible. Technology-neutral and device-agnostic regulatory frameworks are not only desirable, but critical to enable convergence of communication services. In a context where most services are shifting to IP-based networks and content is being consumed using a multitude of platforms and devices, it is not advisable to tie general frameworks, which do not involve scarce resources such as spectrum, to specific networks, technologies or devices.
• Promote investment along the whole value chain for broadband access services. Encouraging investment by all market players is fundamental to foster broadband access infrastructure and services. Any regulatory reform to address convergence issues should ensure that adequate incentives exist to foster investment both in the network layer (access and transit infrastructure deployment) and in the applications layer (new innovative services using broadband access).
• Promote competition and innovation. The promotion of competition and innovation should be maintained as a guiding principle of any policy reformulation seeking the benefits of convergence. Policy makers should seek to promote an environment for innovation without favouring particular platform or participants. New convergent regulatory frameworks should above all promote a level playing field.
33. Some countries have actively engaged in convergence reviews for telecommunication and audio-visual markets and can therefore provide some first-hand experience for the LAC region. For example, Australia’s 2012 Convergence Review conducted a comprehensive consultation process to inform the examination of the operation of media and communication regulation. It aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Australian framework in achieving policy objectives in areas of media ownership, content standards, production and distribution of local content and the allocation of spectrum. In LAC region, the new Telecommunications Act of Ecuador is an example of regulatory framework that takes into account convergence (Box 3).
13. For the most part, a discussion on reforming regulators to create converged agencies has not seemed to be prominent in the LAC region and currently there are no fully converged regulators. For the OECD/IDB questionnaire for this report only Jamaica reported they were carrying out studies to establish a single ICT Regulator. This would involve the potential merger of the Spectrum Management Authority, the telecommunication functions of the Office of Utilities Regulation and the spectrum functions of the Broadcasting Commission.
14. Reassessing the role of the regulator in light of current and future convergence trends is useful, in particular as it brings into focus the changes that may need to take place in regulatory frameworks, the implementation of these frameworks and avoiding inconsistent regulation.
15. A further area where little development has been undertaken is on the simplification of the licensing regime, even when no spectrum license is involved. Most countries in the region still use individual licences and/or concessions for specific services, when convergence trends call for general authorisations covering any service or combination of services. Developing more affordable broadband services and a policy framework prepared for the 21st century requires, among other mechanisms, lowering regulatory entry barriers such as through general authorisations, whenever possible.
16. The offer of multiple services over the same network is not a new phenomenon in the LAC region. Bundling of communication services, at least of two or three fixed communication services has been present in the region since the mid-2000s, driven by cable television providers who were able to provide bidirectional services, especially voice telephony and broadband Internet access. It should be stressed that television services, especially free-to-air television, still play a central role in LAC economies, as in the case of many OECD countries, despite increasing reports of “cord-cutting” trends as some users migrate to VoD subscription services. With the exception of Chile, terrestrial multichannel television subscriptions, for example, seem to have witnessed continued growth in the LAC region (Figure 2).
17. Despite their role in the region, many LAC telecommunication and cable operators have not been leaders in transitioning their networks and businesses to offer advanced services and bundles. However, this situation is changing, driven by demand and market pressures caused by OTT players competing in for customers as well as opportunities for integrated operators owning both fixed and mobile networks.
18. For this report data were gathered on the offers of leading operators in the region. Among some 97 operators (MNOs and MVNOs) in 26 LAC countries, close to 40% offered some type of bundled communication service (counting at least a double-play of fixed broadband, fixed voice, television or mobile services). The majority, that is 60% of operators, did not offer any type of bundles services. The most common bundle in LAC is the triple-play between fixed broadband, fixed voice and television; while quadruple-play offers remain rare, they are found in Brazil (Vivo, Claro and Oi), Barbados (Flow), Dominican Republic (Claro) and Jamaica (Flow). The few quadruple-play offers found tend to be flexible and allow users to choose and arrange services with different characteristics as they see fit (Figure 3).
19. Despite the lack of widespread quadruple-play offers in the region, the LAC telecommunication market shows signs of innovating on bundling offers with OTTs and other agents (such as by banks and retail shops). Indeed, the review of offers for this report point to a growing trend in the region of reaching out to partners and added services to retain and gain new customers. This is undertaken by offering a range of services via set top boxes or mobile apps of VoD content, music streaming, cloud storage (e.g. mClou from Movistra in Chile) and mobile payments (e.g. Vivo’s Zuum in Brazil, TigoMoney in Honduras and Paraguay and Orange’s M-peso). Moreover, operators in the LAC region are increasingly adding to their own services, the “premium” subscriptions of other digital partners such as Evernote (i.e. note taking and cloud storage) and Duolingo (i.e. language learning), as well as services from partners from other sectors such as e-book publishers (e.g. Vivo’s “Nuvem de Livros” in Brazil) and banks (Box 2).
20. Retail chains in the LAC region, as has occurred in OECD countries, are beginning to create their own MVNOs. This often involves converting consumers fidelity to their retail chain to minutes of calls, such as the MVNO Movil Exito (using Tigo’s network) in Colombia (Figure 4).
21. As a regulatory response to that trend, according to the OECD/IDB questionnaire, half of LAC countries have a requirement obligating operators that offer communication services as a package (or bundle) to offer the different elements on a standalone basis. In addition, whenever bundled services are sold (including offers of handsets and mobile telecommunication services), companies are also required to provide invoices with pricing information on the individual services and products in just over half of LAC countries.
22. Further to those obligations on bundles related to consumer protection and information, competition authorities and sector regulators in the region should be ready to address the challenges arising from this trend, such as, conducting market analysis, definition and competition enforcement in a rapidly changing ecosystem. In the LAC region, Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua have reported they include bundles considerations in their competition monitoring frameworks. Good practices on these issues will be addressed in the next section of this Chapter.
23. In some LAC countries Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services are subject to the general telecommunications regulatory framework. In others, VoIP services are framed in specific instruments. In 2015, according to information provided by countries to the OECD/IDB questionnaires, just over half of the LAC countries (56%) had Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services subject to general telecommunications regulation. Additionally, 31% stated they had specific policies or regulations to deal with VoIP. In all LAC countries analysed VoIP is allowed and no regulatory restrictions were found. Further examples of VoIP regulation in the region are included further below (Box 8).
Content distribution and regulation
50. Convergence has given rise to new models for content distribution, where consumers have gained the ability to access content over different networks and devices and interact with multiple providers. New digital content distributors, such as OTT video providers (e.g. Magine TV, Netflix, Sling TV and Hulu), are now in co-existence and competition with traditional content providers. Moreover, users are producing content themselves. Seamless access to content providers over the Internet is fundamentally challenging the traditional location, time of day; device and technologically based regulatory frameworks that are widely in place to meet policy objectives in different countries.
51. Policy objectives in the area of media and broadcasting have traditionally included goals such as ensuring diverse ownership, plurality of opinions, meeting community standards for programmes aimed at children, protection of intellectual property rights, the production and distribution of local content and so forth. During convergence reviews long held objectives are unlikely to be changed. Rather the issue is whether existing approaches are meeting these objectives and whether modifications would better meet such goals.
52. Broadband networks bring with them changes to the nature of media consumption with some being more passive and linear, and most importantly, requiring a certain amount of scarce resources such as spectrum frequencies (e.g. television and radio) Others are more interactive, transient and allow more freedom to shift providers or platforms, such as Internet-based services. Service providers can be classified by their reach, revenue and type of content created. Accordingly, content regulation should be as technology neutral and flexible as possible, but also account for the nuances of how content is delivered and to whom.
53. Each public policy objective regarding content regulation should be periodically reviewed and any decisions taken should be applied consistently and clearly, as technological change continues and as convergence over broadband networks integrates a wider range of devices, services and content. At the same time, due consideration needs to be given to the opportunities convergence enables to meet objectives in different ways including empowering consumers, enhancing competition and innovation and upholding freedom of expression.
54. These innovations in the video delivery and content navigation technologies have convinced a majority of OECD countries to adopt a less onerous licensing regime. In many OECD countries, audio-visual services provided over the Internet are not subject to the same set of rules for traditional broadcasters and a few OECD countries have relaxed their broadcasting obligations (Box 9).
24. In OECD countries a key principle for policy making related to the digital economy has been the concept of an ‘Internet openness” with governance being approached via co-operation using a multi-stakeholder model . In the LAC region, in 2014, Brazil invited governments and other stakeholders from around the world to pursue a similar path when they gathered for the NetMundial meeting (discussed later in this Chapter). Alongside their participation in both these events a number of LAC countries have been at the forefront of international discussions on issues such as network neutrality and IPv6.
25. On network neutrality issues, some countries, notably Chile (2010), Brazil (2014), Colombia (2011) and Ecuador (2015), have taken decisions to prohibit blocking, throttling and paid prioritisation by broadband Internet access providers (Box 12). Other countries such as the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay have been reported to be carrying out consultations on the topic. While on-going discussions may lead to a variety of outcomes, policy makers in the region appear to be inclined to lay out principles to ensure network neutrality. Based on the rationales given by the initial countries to do so, they see this as essential to stimulate competition, promote innovation at the edges and ensure that consumers are able to access any lawful content, application or service provided over the Internet. According to the responses collected from the OECD/IDB questionnaire for this report, 10 countries said they now have or are planning to introduce regulation addressing network neutrality.
26. Although principles around the concept of network neutrality have been introduced in a number of countries in the LAC region, their interpretation or implementation may vary for fixed or mobile networks and for different commercial developments. A case in point is the approach taken by some authorities for the practice of “Zero Rating”, where data for specific applications or services are not charged relative to other usage. Zero-rating is an issue currently being debated in LAC countries and careful consideration by authorities should be given to these offers on their effect on different policy objectives (such as affordability of services and competition dynamics). This discussion will be further addressed in the good practices section of this chapter.
27. Zero rating offers are becoming increasingly popular among LAC operators. Out of the 97 operators reviewed in the LAC region here, at least 23% offered some type of zero-rated offers. Examples of zero rating social media applications (such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Instagram) can be found, within different schemes, in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Suriname. In most countries, these zero-rated services are offered under specific conditions (under a certain basic data plan, during a limited time and where VoIP services do not apply).
28. A few operators in the LAC region also offer music services (their own or under partnerships with OTTs such as Spotify, Deezer and Napster) under similar zero-rated plans that do not subtract from users’ data caps, such as the one offered by Tigo Honduras (Figure 5). Others have started offering their own zero-rated chat apps to compete with OTT services, either native in their devices or downloadable in app stores, such as “TWNEL” from UFF!, MVNO operating on Tigo’s network in Colombia.
29. Regarding IPv6, the Americas region is a leader with 12.74% of end hosts capable of undertaking an IPv6 network transaction, followed by Europe, Oceania, Asia and Africa. In the LAC region, the five leading countries in IPv6 adoption are Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia and Trinidad and Tobago according to the measurements of their end-to-end IPv6 capabilities (Table 1). Other measurement options are available (Box 1): Measuring the adoption of IPv6 in the Internet).
66. Policy makers and regulators should prepare for the convergence of networks and services which, along with innovative offerings, have also brought a range of challenges that are already arising in the LAC region.
67. The take away from this Chapter revolves around evaluating and updating policy frameworks that can respond to the current and future effects of convergence. Policy makers should work towards developing less complicated regulatory and policy frameworks that uphold technology neutrality when possible and that promote investment, competition and innovation along the whole value chain.
68. This involves looking at the arrangement of regulators, and making sure that independent regulatory authorities are well positioned for the growing converged landscape; simplifying licensing regimes; monitoring bundling practices; enabling new business models to flourish (such as VoIP and VoD) while assessing the suitability of traditional policy objectives; and, finally, promoting Internet openness by spurring multi-stakeholder Internet governance arrangements, monitoring market failures and encouraging further competition and investment.
1. RIPE NCC measures the number of IPv6 enabled networks per country, see http://v6asns.ripe.net/v/6?s=_ALL.
2. Lars Eggart started a study using such approach in 2007, see current results in http://www.eggert.org/meter/ipv6.
3. PCH maintains a directory of Internet exchanges with traffic statistics for IPv4 and IPv6 subnets, see http://www.pch.net/ixpdir
4. Google measures the number of end hosts preferring to use IPv6 on their service infrastructure, see www.google.com/ipv6/statistics.html
5. APNIC Labs measures IPv6 capability per country using such technique, see http://stats.labs.apnic.net/ipv6
6. In February 2016, by way of example, Ofcom in its Strategic Review of Digital Communications noted the need to publish service quality performance data on all operators. Refer: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/policy/digital-comms-review/ At the same time regulators are adjusting data collection to include the use of new technologies and therefore include all providers of such services. For example, the FCC now collects data from any actor engaged in providing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) between the United States and any foreign point including traffic between the United States and LAC. Refer: https://transition.fcc.gov/ib/sand/mniab/traffic/
7. The new Baird study, for example, the percentage of US online households that do not pay for cable or satellite TV rose 10 18.3% from 14.1% in the prior year. http://news.investors.com/technology-click/092115-771999-aapl-nflx-akam-to-benefit-from-cord-cutting.htm
8. In 2011, this resulted in a high level meeting and led to an OECD Council Recommendation on principles for Internet Policy Making. Available at http://www.oecd.org/internet/ieconomy/49258588.pdf.
9. The Australian Convergence review offers an interesting example on how a comprehensive convergence review could be done in a country to assess both telecommunications and broadcasting issues (including media ownership and content matters). The Australian Convergence Review recommends that a common flexible and technologically neutral scheme be applied across all media platforms and that content providers characterised by having professional content (excluding then user-generated content) with large audience reach and revenue (such as “television-like” services and newspapers) should be subject to general standards established by the communications regulator and by an independent self-regulatory body with obligations seeking to promoting fairness, accuracy and transparency. See full document at http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/1339_convergence.pdf
10. In March 2015, in the United States by way of example, President Obama signed an Executive Memorandum creating the Broadband Opportunity Council, an interagency group comprised of 25 Federal agencies and departments. The Council is tasked with promoting broadband deployment, adoption, and competition. Refer https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/ERP_2016_Chapter_5.pdf
11. Resolução No. 632 do Conselho Diretor da Anatel, from 7 March 2014, that approved the General Regulation for the Rights of Consumers of Telecommunication Services, available at http://www.anatel.gov.br/legislacao/resolucoes/2014/750-resolucao-632
12. In the Directive, the term “on-demand audiovisual media service” is defined as follows: ‘on-demand audiovisual media service’ (i.e. a non-linear audiovisual media service) means an audiovisual media service provided by a media service provider for the viewing of programmes at the moment chosen by the user and at his individual request on the basis of a catalogue of programmes selected by the media service provider (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32010L0013&from=EN);
13. Some services such as telemedicine or telemetry, for example, may demand special treatment due to their specific bandwidth and latency requirements for service delivery. As the Internet is a “best effort” network of networks generally any operator only has the ability to influence such services on its own network.
14. Resolución de Consejo Directivo No. 12302014-CD-OSIPTEL, from 10 October 2014, available at https://www.osiptel.gob.pe/repositorioaps/data/1/1/1/par/reglamento-calidad-servicios-publicos-telecom/Res123-2014-CD_reglamento-calidad-servicios-publicos-telecom.pdf
15. World IPv6 Day was announced on January 2011 with five anchoring companies: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Akamai and Limelight Networks. More than 400 participants (ISPs, search engines and content providers) joined the action and major carriers measured an increase of the percentage of IPv6 traffic from 0.024 to 0.041. Following its success, a World IPv6 Launch took place in June 6, 2012 with the intention of leaving IPv6 permanently enabled on all participating sites.
16. Internet technical organisation such as LACNIC, ISOC or NSRC and Network Operators Groups such as CaribNOG provide IPv6 training and operational support.
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