The cost of communication has become a major discussion point not only for consumers but also for other stakeholders in telecoms including regulators and organisations involved in setting industry standards.
As part of ongoing discussions in that area, POTRAZ, the Zimbabwean telecoms regulator together with the International Telecommunication Union ITU, is hosting a two-day (30 – 31 January 2017) regional forum on tariffs and accounting matters (including costing methodologies) for international telecoms services.
Called the ITU Regional Economic and Financial Forum of Telecoms/ICT for Africa it brings together various stakeholders in African telecoms including service providers, regulators, academics and state representatives.
The participants are part of a partnership called Study Group 3 which explores telecoms accounting, economic and policy issues and based on study areas set periodically, makes recommendations which can then be used for setting standards.
At the 2017 meeting, the group will also deliberate on policy issues and standards related to tariffs and pricing and the impact this has on digital trends.
The (ITU) – a global body and United Nations affiliate which regulates standards on various aspects of telecoms – has a significant impact on pricing standards which are used by regulators as the starting point for setting fair tariffs for voice and broadband telecoms.
Its recommendations, based on approaches used in other countries is what results in the adoption of solutions like infrastructure sharing and frameworks that encourage competitive behaviour.
As the cost of data emerges as an increasingly hot topic for consumers who are embracing the internet for business, education, social connectivity and service delivery the conclusions of this forum will be worth noting. They essentially have a bearing on what will later be deemed as fair prices on what we all pay to access the internet.