Governments want more influence over telcos

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Governments want more influence over telcos

Policymakers are being urged by a new book to forge ‘a more influential role’ in the development of telecommunications and broadband networks in their cities.

Launched to promote the upcoming Metropolis Congress in Sydney, the book examines the impact of networks on the connectivity of cities to each other and the globe.

High bandwidth, low cost and multi-choice telecommunications services are of ‘considerable importance’ to a city’s economic development, according to Jonathan Rutherford, researcher at the Latts Institute at Paris Est University and author of the Virtual Connection chapter.

“It is unlikely that a city or region without access to this infrastructure would be able to attract substantial economic investment, because major companies are unlikely to locate there,” writes Rutherford.

“Given this, it is rather paradoxical that local, urban and regional authorities have, in theory, relatively little effective leverage with which to shape their own infrastructures.”

Rutherford said that one of the major challenges for policymakers is to forge a more influential role in the development of ICT networks in their cities.

Uptake of broadband is bringing governments more in line with telco providers, due to concerns over universal availability and overcoming digital divides, Rutherford said.

“[But] there may be potential conflicts between an ICT policy based on [social] cohesion objectives and operator strategies based on short-term demonstrable profitability,” Rutherford warned.

“The overall goals of an ICT policy oriented towards economic development might therefore conflict with those of a digital divide or social cohesion policy.”

Rutherford added that part of the challenge in getting telcos and governments to work together is that "there is not one exportable – or desirable – information city model that can be developed the world over."

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