SATELLITE REGULATION UNDER INTERNATIONAL SPACE
LAW: BASIC PRINCIPLES AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
Ademola O. Popoola, Phd.
of International Law of
commissioned for Presentation at the International Conference on Electronic
Commerce and Telecommunications in Nigeria. Maximising the Benefits of the Digital Economy held at
the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos.
23 - 26 SEPTEMBER, 2002.
Communication and Application
Since the advent of the
commercial uses of Satellites in the early 1960s with the launching of the
“early bird” countries in Africa have utilising satellites for the provision
of International communication. In a broader context, the technology and
Ademola O. Popoola, Phd
Department of International Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife,
Nigeria that have resulted from man’s early efforts in space exploration,
beginning with high altitude aircraft balloons specialised sensors, and
manned and unmanned space platforms such as the SPUTNIK, VOSTUK, VOSHOD,
APOLLO, MERCURY, GEMINI, TIRUS, and ECHO series, are now finding wide
applications on his (that is, man’s} everyday activity. Specifically, he
can now communicate with almost any part of the globe using the services of
the INTELSAT and INTERSPUTNIK Satellite Communication networks. The
development, launching and exploration of the GEOSTAT, METEOSTAT, and cosmos
series of meteorological satellites have also expanded his knowledge of the
atmosphere and the characteristics of rain-bearing clouds. Similarly man
has acquired the capability to map, more accurately, his own geographical
position on earth using geodetic space platforms. And lately, as a result
of the deployment of earth resources, space vehicles, along with their
associated assessors, man has developed a system that would improve his
knowledge of the resources of his land as well as enable him to evaluate the
extent classification, quantity and temporal and spatial changes of these
resources. In sum space platforms and their associated sensors provide us
with a unique capability to see and interact with large parts of the earth
simultaneously (Adigun Abodunrin, n:d).
In this paper, our focus
shall be on Satellite Communication with particular emphasis on the legal
and institutional framework. The truth of the matter is that satellite
systems have evolved from the network - oriented approach connecting
networks together to the user - oriented approach of providing services
directly to the users. Satellite have also developed from fixed
applications to mobile applications and from telecommunications to
broadcasting with DBS and DTH satellites. Thus applications such as digital
direct television broadcasting, mobile telephony, and broadband video and
data services are now possible due to recent advances in satellite and
ground equipment technologies.
As the Nigerian National
Paper to the Third United Nations conference on the Exploration and Peaceful
Uses of Outer Space Vienna, 19 - 30 July 1995, has identified (p.36).
Satellite systems have also been developed from the traditional use of
geo-stationary orbit (G.S.O.) Satellites at 3 000 km attitude to Law Earth
Orbit (LEO) Satellites and medium Earth orbit (MEO) Satellites using orbits
from under 1000 km to a far thousand kilometer altitude in various
developments have revolutionised telecommunications and information services
resulting in the global village and Global Information Highway (G.I.H.). In
sum - satellite services include in the language of the Nigerian National
conventional services such as medium traffic and thinrout telephony point to
point links (e.g. high rate data), TV distribution and tele-education etc
and satellite news gathering (SNG).
(b) Direct to
Users Services such as DTH/DBS services;DAB, Data, VSAT; personal
communications (including possibilities of rural
telephony) and multi-media services (including TV; telephony, fast
connections to Internet.
APPLICATION IN NIGERIA
Before we proceed to
examine the basic principles of International space Law, it is pertinent to
note that here in Nigeria Satellite Systems are utilised NITEL for
International telephone, fax and other telecommunications facilities offered
by INTELSAT. Nigeria is in fact a member of INTELSAT Private organisation
and individuals also utilise a few types of IMMARSAT terminals (a mobile
Satellite System). The VSAT Satellite Systems are also in use for data,
telephony and other communication services. The STAR and MESH
configurations are the two most popular VSAT Systems. It is worthy of note
that VSAT has been useful as a solution to the problem of International
connectivity for information networks (especially INTERNET) in some
developing countries when regulatory situations permits its usage. And the
high speed capability of some megabits per second (mbps) has made the VSAT
solution to information network in the developing countries more
attractive. Here in Nigeria. VSAT has been utilised by private
telecommunication providers and companies for telecommunication services
within the country as a result of partial deregulation of the
telecommunication industry. A private company was indeed licensed few
years ago to offer VSAT services on the International route. Two INTELSAT
to Nigeria are utilised for the provision of network TV series by the
Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
C. CHALLENGES AND
It is remarkable that
African countries have not participated actively in the evolution of the new
satellite systems. The utilisation of the modern satellite facilities in
Africa has also been limited. This is also the situation with Nigeria
inspite of her more advantaged resource potential.
It is against this
background that the Nigerian National Paper (1999) has identified the
following as the “Challenges” and “Constraints” in the field of Space
Communications and Application in Africa.
1. The Law
teledensity in Africa (the lowest in the world. A lot of investment is
considered necessary if Africa is to join the rest of the world in modern
telecommunication services. The Nigerian condition is no better than the African average.
telecommunication network towards a 100% digital lines.
3. Creation of
an environment that will enable the successful setting up of sophisticated
networks for access to advanced information technologies.
radio frequency spectrum and The orbital slots in the geostationary orbit
are limited natural resources which must be used efficiently and
economically so that countries may have equitable access to them. By the
end of the 20th century it was estimated that Africa would only have e had
about 530 units of c-band (4/6 GH2 band). Ku-band (12/14 GH2 band)
frequency transponders available to her out of the expected 9644 units to be
used globally. The fear is that the available orbital slots may
have become completely exhausted before countries like Nigeria and other
Africa countries become ripe enough to launch their own satellites.
Despite this Nigeria did not (as at 1999) have a satellite project. There
is, therefore an urgent need for investment in the technology in order to
ensure that the country is assured of an orbital slot in the nearest future.
There is also need for increased research to see to the possibility of a
successful design of satellite systems in the V-band (40/50 GHZ band), by
overcoming the attenuation due to rain in the V-band.
5. An effective
participation of Nigerian research centres in research and development in telecommunication is yet to form part of any deliberate
national effort to benefit from the technology.
TV or the Internet or telephone communications satellites play a decisive
role in the creation and transformation of markets especially in developing
countries like Nigeria with highly promising market for many products. In
the fierce fight for the Nigeria telecommunications markets technology will
prove once more benefit or evil. Regulations and governments will therefore
have to play a very delicate role to balance the benefits of market
liberalisation and technology advance with the unexpected consequences on
Nigeria. The entanglement of these two facts, if not well managed may
expose Nigeria to the risk of becoming another playing ground for big and
small competitors in telecommunication markets to deliver the promises of
improvements in economic growth and the advancement in social welfare.
It is against this broad
background that we now proceed to examine the framework for the regulation
of the Satellite Systems under International Space Law.
II. NATURE, EVOLUTION AND
SOURCES OF INTERNATIONAL SPACE LAW
International Space Law
is that branch of International law governing relations among its subjects
in connection with their activities on exploration and use of outer space,
including celestial bodies.
It is remarkable that
the emergence and formation of this branch of International Law is directly
associated with the launching by the Soviet Union on 4 October, 1957 of the
first artificial Earth Satellite, which not only marked the beginning of
man’s active exploration of space, but also excited a deep influence on many
aspects of social life, among them the sphere of International relations.
it is relevant for our
present purpose that even before the first special treaty on outer space was
drawn up in 1967, a number of Legal principles and norms of International
Space Law had taken shape in practice. These included the principle of the
non-existence of state sovereignty over outer space, otherwise known as the
principles of the freedom to explore and use outer space. Some legal
principles and norms relations to activities in outer space have also been
confirmed by resolutions unanimously adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly. Among these are Resolution No 1721 (XVI) of 20 December 1961 and
Resolution No 1962 (X VIII) of 13 December 1963. This second Resolution
contained the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of
States on the Exploration and Use of Outer Space.
also existed individual treaties and norms governing particular aspects of
activities in outer space. There is, for example, the Treaty Banning
Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere in Outer Space and Under Water which
was signed in Moscow on 5 August 1963.
In the face of the
activities taking place in the space the big task for the law consisted
mainly in elaborating, on the basis of the principles and norms of
International Law, a specialised system of legal principles and norms taking
account of the specific characteristics of the new activities, creating the
most favourable conditions for the growth of broad scientific and technical
cooperation of states in the development of outer space and not permitting
its transformation into a zone of international conflict.
The United Nation
Organisation indeed established in 1959 its committee on the Use of Outer
Space for Peaceful Purposes. This committee is a special organ of the
General Assembly and is at the centre of practical development of view norms
of International Space Law.
We shall now briefly
consider the sources and basic principles of the Law.
SOURCES OF THE LAW
The most important
source of Space Law are the International treaties elaborated within the
United Nations and subsequently, signed and ratified by a large number of
states. Among these are:
(1) The 1966
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the
Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the moon and Other
Celestial Bodies (Commonly known as the “Outer Space Treaty”).
(2) The 1967
Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts the Return of Astronauts and the
Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space. (The Rescue
(3) The 1971
convention on International Liability for Damage caused by Space Objects
the Liability Convention.
(4) The 1974
Convention on Registration of Objects launched into Outer Space (the
(5) The 1979
Agreement Governing Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial
Bodies (the “Moon Agreement”).
We shall elaborate on
the contents of these Treaties and Agreements later on in this
presentation. It is sufficient for now to note that on the basis of the
work of the committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Legal Sub
Committee the General Assembly has also adopted the following set of
principles on the conduct of space activities.
Principles Governing the Use by States of artificial Earth Satellites for
International direct television broadcasting (1982) which recognise that
such use has international political economic, social and cultural
implications. They should respect the sovereign rights of states,
including the principle of non-intervention. They should promote the
dissemination and exchange of information and knowledge and should
principles relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space (1986)
which state that such activities are to be conducted for the benefit of all
countries, respecting the sovereignty of all states and people’s over their
natural resources and for the rights and interests of other states. Remove
sensing is to be used to preserve the environment and to reduce the impact
of natural disasters.
Principles on the use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space (1992) which
recognise that such sources are essential for some missions, but that their
use should be based on a thorough safety assessment. The Principles also
provide guidelines for the safe Use of nuclear power sources and for
notification of a MAL---------- of a space object where there is a
risk of re-entry of radioactive material to the Earth.
Declaration on International cooperation in the Exploration and Use of
Outer Space for the benefit and in the Interest of all States, particularly
developing countries (1996) which provide that states are free to determine
all aspects of their participation on International cooperation in space
activities on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis, and that such
cooperation should be conducted in ways that are considered most effective
and appropriate by the countries concerned.
Besides, there are a
number of International Scientific and technical agreements governing joint
activities of states in outer space. These agreements encompass a large
number of states belonging to different socio-political system. The
international space programmes of the United States of America, Russia, the
Western European and other countries are based on these agreements.
These Agreements include the founding Acts of inter-governmental
organisationns like INTERSPUTNIK, INTELSTAT, INMMARSAT and the European
Space Agency as well as multilateral and bilateral agreements on general and
specific questions of joint activities of states in outer space.
It should be importantly
noted that International Space Law extends not only to the activities of
States in outer space itself, including celestial bodies, but also to their
activities on Earth, and in the atmosphere in connection with the study and
conquest of outer space. It should be further noted that most multilateral
outer space treaties drawn up within the United Nations provide terms in
accordance with which the provisions of these treaties apply not only to
states but under certain conditions to international inter-governmental
organisations engaged in activities in outer space.
BASIC FEATURES OF THE
RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTIVITIES IN OUTER SPACE
international responsibility for ensuring that their activities in outer
space are carried out in strict compliance with the principles and
provisions of general international law and international space law. This
responsibility extends to any national activities irrespective of whether
they are being conducted by governmental agencies or by non governmental
legal entities. (Act VI of the Outer Space Treaty). Activities in outer
Space by non governmental entities are permitted only with the
consent and under the supervision of the corresponding states. When
activities in outer space are conducted by an international inter
governmental organisation responsibility is also borne by the organisations
The responsibility of
states is envisaged not only for perpetrated violation of the law but also
for the influction of damage in the course of legitimate activities in outer
space, like the result of crashing of a man made satellite or its component
parts on foreign territory. There can be no doubt caused as a result of
activities in outer space. States are the subjects of such responsibility
irregative of whom the direct party is which has suffered damage of who the
party is which is obliged to compensate for the damage - whether this is the
state itself or its physical and legal persons.
For a state to be heed
materially responsible one of its space objects must have inflicted some
form of direct harm envisaged in the convention. The launching state bears
absolute responsibility for paying compensation that the extensive use of
space technology is associated with the risk of causing material damage here
on earth in the atmosphere and in outer space. It is therefore logical that
questions of material responsibility for damage caused by space objects are
dealt with in particular by international space law. Act VII of the Outer
Space Treaty ----- the Special Convention on International Liability for
Damage caused by space objects deal with these questions. They lend an
international legal character to material responsibility for damage caused
by one of its space objects on the surface of the Earth or to an aircraft on
flight. The launching state can only be freed from such responsibility if
it can prove that the damage was wholly if partly caused as a result of
gross carelessness or action or inaction on the part of the state suffering
damage or its physical or legal persons with the intention of inflating
damage. If the damage is caused as a result of inappropriate activity of
the launching state, nor responding to International Law including the Use
Charter and the 1967 Treaty, the launching state cannot be freed in any way
from responsibility even if the state suffering damage is itself guilty.
The principle of absolute responsibility can be digressed from in the event
of a space object of one state or the persons or property on board, such an
object, being damaged by a space object of another state while they are not
located on the surface of the Earth. In this case, the state is responsible
only in the presence of its own guilt or of the guilty of persons for whom
The convention gives a
broad interpretation of the Earth launching state to include both the State
that carries out or organises the launching of a space object and the state
from whose territory or facilities the launching of a space object is
affected. Act V of the convention states the principles of joint
responsibility for any damage caused when two or more states jointly effect
a launching. This means that a state suffering damage may at its discretion
present separate demands for full compensation to any of the participant in
the joint launching or it may present demands to some of them or to all of
them together. A state which has paid compensation for damage has the right
to present a regressive demand to the other participants to the joint
The procedure for
consulting and considering claims for compensation in the Convention provide
for the possibility of resolving claims through diplomatic negotiations and
for the creation of special commission to consider claims if diplomacy
negotiations are our successful.
STATES OF SPACE
The term Space object
refers to various man made space apparatus and their component parts
(artificial earth satellites, automatic and manned spacecraft and stations,
rocket carriers). International Space Law governs activities associated
with space objects from the moment of their launching or construction in
outer space (including an celestial bodies). Until that moment, activities
relating to their creation and launching are covered by municipal law unless
these are other special treaties among states relating to this eg joint
launching. Since 1961, the UN has kept a register of objects launched into
outer space. The 1975 Registration Convention has now made such
registration mandatory. The space object must be recorded in a national
register and registered with the UN.
The registration of a
space object implies specific legal consequences. Act VIII of the Outer
Space Treaty provides that ‘A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an
object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and
control over such object and over any personnel thereof. While in outer
space or of a celestial bodies’.
In effect, a space
object and its crew (including international crew). While they are in outer
space are under the control of and are subordinated to the authority of the
state that has registered the given space object. A state retains sovereign
rights in relation to its space objects and their crew during their time in
outer space and on celestial bodies.
The 1967 Treaty also
provides that the right of ownership of space objects is not affected others
during their presence in outer space or following their return to Earth. In
effect, space objects and their component parts both during their presence
in outer space and following their return to Earth belong to the states,
legal or physical persons, to whom they belonged before launching. Act XII
of the 1967 Treaty and Act XV of the Agreement Governing the Activities of
States on the Moon and other Celestial Bodies provide that all stations
installation equipment and space copy on the moon and other celestial bodies
are open to visits by representatives of PPPP States on a reciprocal basis
and in compliance with specific conditions including preliminary justice).
The right to visit is rigorously limited in character and lives not extend
to orbital spaces objects beyond the boundaries of the moon and other
celestial bodies. The Tall Treaty character astronauts as “envoys of
mankind in outer space” (ActV). This only emphases the worldwide
significance of a mission being carried out by a astronauts. It does not
give them any supra natural status.
In making a space flight
they remain citizens of their states and are subject to the jurisdiction and
country of the state in which their space ship is registered.
Questions relating to
the rescue and return of astronauts in case of accident, calamity, a forced
launding outside the territory of the state which launded the vessel are
also regulated provision would be from an Act V the outer space Treaty. The
1968 Agreement or Rescue and the 1979 Agreement on the Activities of states
on the Moon. The duties of States on rescuing and returning crews that are
provided for in the 1968 Agreement differ from their duties relating to the
salv age and return of the space objects themselves states moon take all
possible measures to rescue and provide necessary assistance to the crew of
space craft, that have lauded on foreign territory as a result of accident
calamity or forced or unintentional lauding. Such crews must be returned
without delay to representatives of the party that launched the vessel. The
space objects themselves and their components are salvaged and returned to
the authorities that launded the vessel only at the request and expense of
Mutual assistance among
astronauts while they are in outer space and on celestial bodies the right
to rescue persons involved in accidents on space stations, installation,
devices and other structures located on the moon and other celestial
bodies. The mutual exchange by states, either directly or through the UN
Secretary General of information concerning phenomena in outer space
including the moon and other celestial bodies that would represent a threat
to the lives or health of astronaut are also provided for.
PRINCIPLE OF COOPERATION
One of the basic
principles of public international law applicable to space activities is
that of cooperation of States. This play an exceptionally important role in
the research and use of outer space. This is why the cooperation of states
in the peaceful study and use of outer space is one of the basic principles
of International Space Law. The Outer Space Treaty in its preamble refers
to the wish of states to promote broad international cooperation in the
field of the study and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Act I
provides that states shall assist and encourage international cooperation in
scientific research At III refers to the development of international
cooperation and mutual understanding Act IX states that signatories to the
Treaty shall be guided by the principle of cooperation and mutual assistance
. An active role in the development of international cooperation in space
research is played by the UN, a number of its specialised institutions sun
as the ITU.
UNNO, UNESCO and
International Inter-Governmental agencies such as the life cemmut an Space
Research (COPSPAR) and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF).
IV INTERNATIONAL SATELLITE
In the field of
International Satellite Communications there are three major international
and INMARSAT. The Agreement on the Establishment of the International
System and Organisation of Space communications (INTERSPUTNIK) was signed in
Moscow on 15 November, 1971 and came into force on 12 July, 1972. The
INTERSPUTNIK serves the needs of its member states in telephone and
telegraph communication channels, television and other forms of information
transmission via artificial earth satellites. The work of INTERSPUTNIK is
based on the principles of respect for the sovereignty and independence of
states, equality, non interference in internal affairs, mutual assistance
and mutual benefit.
Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (INTELSAT) was established in 1964.
It currently operates on the basis of agreements that came into force on 12
February, 1973. The INTELSAT Agreements encroach on the sovereign rights of
the organisations member states and consolidate the dominating role withing
it of the United States.
The convention on the
International Maritime Satellite Organisation (INMARSAT) was signed in
1976. Its members are states possessing large Maritime fleets. In addition
there is a number of national and regional communications system, which use
man-made satellite. The organisation was established to meet the needs of
We shall now examine
more closely some of these organisation.
INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE ORGANISATION
The INTERLSAT is the
most important international provider of satellite communication services.
It was originally established by an interim agreement in 1964 as a
“not-for-proper cost-sharing cooperative” to provide high quality, reliable
telecommunication by means of satellite to all nations of the world on a
global and non-discriminatory basis. It is not subscribed to by well over
100 member countries. Parties can either directly enter the agreement or
designate one of their telecommunications entities to do so. In the United
Kingdom for example, British Telecom is the signatory for the country.
The INTELSAT today
carries over half of the world’s telephone calls, the bulk of international
data circuits and virtually all transoceanic and intercontinental television
The objective of
INTELSAT is to provide facilities for international communications
services. The provision of INTELSAT’s facilities for domestic public
communication services is subject to the condition that it does not impair
its ability to provide international public telecommunication services. The
idea behind INTELSAT was to be able to provide and to maintain a low-cost
international system of communications by means of a pooling of
international resources and through an equitable sharing of the costs and
risks involved in the development of international satellite
communications. All members , therefore, assume the risks and invest in
INTELSAT in proportion to their actual use of the system for all services.
Investment shares are adjusted annually based on the previous six months’
usage. Article V of the INTELSAT Agreement confirms the non-discriminatory
basis upon which INTELSATS services are to be provided. Indeed, all users,
members and non-members alike, are to charged the same for the same service
and rates are averaged on total use of the entire global system.
Article XIV defines the
rights and obligations of INTELSAT members particularly as regards the
question of them establishing or using separate systems to meet domestic or
international requirements. Prior to the establishment, acquisition or
utilisation of separate satellite facilities, INTELSAT members are required
to consult with INTELSAT and furnish all relevant information so as to
ensure technical compatibility, to avoid significant economic harm and so as
not to prejudice the establishment of direct communications links.
In the past, this
article gave INTELSAT a significant regulatory power in the field of
international satellite services. Its supe and significance have now been
considerably reduced. It now applies only to public switched
telecommunication services. It is remarkable that in 1985, the US Congress
passed a law to the effect that if INTELSAT renders an unfavourable finding
under Article XIV, the president may determine that it is nevertheless in
the US national interest to proceed with the separate system.
The INTELSAT has
distinct legal identity which is separate from the parties or signatories of
which it is made up. Organisationally, the body consists of
1. The Assembly
2. The meeting
3. The Board of
4. The Director
General who is the Chief Executive.
SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS ORGANISATION (EUTELSAT)
The body was established
in 1977 as a provisional body under the interim EUTELSAT Agreement to set up
and operate a space segment for satellite communications and to make the
necessary arrangements for this. Particularly with the European Space
Agency. In 1985, a convention creating the definitive organisation was held
in September 1985, resulting in a signed agreement among 20 European
governments. Membership has since risen.
The EUTELSAT is governed
by a convention which sets out its constitution and aims. An operating
Agreement contains the details of the functioning of the organisation
including utilisation charges.
The body is composed of
an Assembly of Parties, a board of signatories and an executive headed by a
Director - General.
The main objective of the organisation is the
construction, establishment, operation and maintenance of the European Space
segment and the provision of the space segment required for international
public telecommunications services in Europe. A guiding principle of
EUTELSAT is “non discrimination as between signatories” (Art III). Article
XVI gives EUTELSAT the power to effectively to decide whether potential
competitors are likely to provide an unacceptable level of competition to
the services provided by EUTELSAT. That is, to cause “any significant
harm”. If the Assembly of Parties decides that it would coordination with
that competitor can be refused.
INTERNATIONAL MARITIME SATELLITE ORGANISATION (INMARSAT)
The organisation was
established in July 1979. Its original purpose was to make provision for
the space segment necessary for improving maritime communications, to assist
in improving distress and safety of life at sea, communications, efficiency
and management of ships, maritime public correspondence services and radio -
determination capabilities. In 1985, this purpose was extended to include
aeronautical satellite communications and, in 1989 to include the provision
of land mobile communications. The organization has a founding convention
and an operating Agreement. Each party must sign the operating Agreement.
The organisation is founded with the contribution of the signatories to the
The INMARSAT has an
Assembly with responsibility for overall policy formation a council
consisting of representatives of signatories. (It has an executive role);
and a Director General who is the Chief Executive and Legal representative.
Article 8 of the Operating Agreement is similar to Article XIV of the
INTELSAT Agreement and Article XVI of the EUTELSAT Agreement regarding the
obligation to notify INMARSAT when a party intends to establish separate
space segment for white to meet any or all of the maritime purposes of the
INMARSAT. This has been generating concern as to the tendency to use the
organisations power in this regard to restrict access to satellite services
and thus reduce competition.
SUB MARINE CABLES
Our focus in this
segment of the paper shall be the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of
the Sea which came into force in November 1994, and has been ratified by
Nigeria. The relevant provisions of the Convention shall be considered on
the Legal regime applicable to specific sea areas starting with the High
Article 87 of the
Convention provides that the “High Seas are open to all states, whether
coastal or land locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the
conditions laid down by the convention and by other rules of Intgernational
Law”. The Article gives on to list among the freedoms for both the coastal
and land locked states.
“(c) freedom to lay
sub marine cables and pipelines subject to Part VI
Part VI of the
Convention deals with the Continental shelf. It is provided in Article 87
Section 2 that the freedoms guaranteed under the Article including the
freedom to lay sub-Maine cables shall be exercised by all states with regard
for the interests of other states in their exercise of the freedom of the
high seas, and also with due regard for the rights under the Convention with
respect to activities in the Area of the sea beyond the limits of national
jurisdiction. Thee High seas shall indeed be reserved for peaceful purposes
(Art 88) and no state may validly purport to subject any part of the high
seas to its sovereignty (Art 89).
Within the Continental
Shelf (Part IV), “All states are entitled to lay sub-marine cable and
pipelines ... in accordance with the provisions of this Article” (Art 79).
It is further provided that subject to its right to take reasonable measures
for the exploration of the continental shelf. The exploration of its
natural resources and the prevention reduction and control of pollution from
pipelines, the coastal state may not impede the laying or maintenance of
such cables or pipelines. The delineation of the course for the laying of
such pipelines on the continental shelf is subject to the consent of the
coastal state. Nothing in Part VI of the convention affects the right of
the coastal state to establish conditions for cables or pipelines entering
its territory or territorial sea, or its jurisdiction over cables and
pipelines constructed or used in connection with the exploitation of its
continental shelf or exploitation of its resources or the operations of
artificial islands, installations and structures under its jurisdiction.
When laying sub-marine cables or pipelines, states shall have due regard to
cables or pipelines already in position. In particular possibilities of
repairing existing cables or pipelines shall not be prejudiced.
Within the Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ), all states whether coastal or landlocked, enjoy subject
to the relevant provisions of the convention, the freedom referred to
Article 87 of navigation and overflight and of the lagging of submarine
cables and pipelines and other internationally lawful uses of the sea
related to these freedom, such as those associated with the operation of
ships aircraft and submarine cables and pipelines and compatible with the
other provisions of the convention (Art 58). It is further provides that in
exercising their rights and performing their duties under the Convention in
the EEZ, states shall have due regard to the rights and duties of the
coastal state and shall comply with the laws and regulations adopted by the
coastal state. In accordance with the provisions of the Convention and
other rules of international law in so far as they are not incompatible with
Part VI of the Convention.
In this paper, attention
has been focussed on Satellite Regulation under International Space Law.
The emphasis has been on the Basic principles of International Law and the
By way of conclusion, it
is worth restating that African countries have not participated actively in
the evolution of the new satellite system. Besides, the utilisation of the
modern satellite facilities in the region has been limited.
It is against this
background that the Nigerian National Paper (1999) did propose to the
UNISPACE III Conference (and we agree with this position).
Assurance of equitable access to the radio frequency spectrum and the
geo-stationary satellite orbit to protect the interest of developing
countries and emergency nations who have not yet developed financial and
technical capabilities for their own satellite.
2. The interest
of developing countries should be taken into consideration on the allocation
of frequencies for LED, MEO Satellites constellations.
studies must be carried out for the utilisation of the Ka and V band
Satellite frequencies in tropical and sub-tropical regions so that such
regions could benefit in the numerous services that satellite
communications will provide now and in the future.
Satellite debris requires attention and recommendation. This raises the
issue if the disposition of failed satellites, “dead” satellites after
useful life etc. When hazards wined such debris constitute now and in the
establishment of UN affiliated Centres on space technology and education in
Asia, Africa, and Latin America is a welcome development. The Centres must
be networked in order to share human and other resources.
developed world is requested to make efforts in the diffusion of the
satellite technology and space technology in general to developing
trade and custom duties.
8. Regulation of
DTH Satellite broadcasts and DAB into other countries. What are the
Participation of scientists, engineers and technologists in study Groups of
ITU, COPOUS and other similar organisations. Where major studies are
carried out. Leading to major decisions and recommendations on space
technology and satellite communications.
10. Integration of
Africa into the Global Information Society and the Global Village.
11. Due to
the poor terrestrial telephone network in Africa, most of its inter-African
traffic is carried by satellite, hence satellite constitute a major
transmission system for telephone traffic in the continent. Nigeria is a
major consumer of these products in Africa, the government of Nigeria
(therefore) intends to provide increased investment in training and research
in satellite telecommunications technology, especially in the K, band
satellite systems, now designed for regional and global services (with
opportunities for telephone thunking and rural telephony).
12. Paper Satellites. Based on the I.T.U. Special committees position
on the paper satellites, to with “The administration claming orbital slots
and associated frequency spectrum must submit evidence of a spacecraft or
launch vehicle contract, otherwise they would be deleted from the
co-ordination queue”, the need arises to adopt a special disposition towards
the allocation of orbit slits to developing countries, which may not have
the resources at this stage to show evidence of possession of a spacecraft
or launch vehicle contract.
solution in the provision of rural telephony, radio, and TV broadcasting
would be pursued in Nigeria, in addition to mobile satellite services
through investment, as this would have tremendous boosting of economic
growth in the rural areas.
satellite is playing more role in the networks separated within a
geographical region and in the accessing of the global network of networks -
the Internet, the pace of connectivity to the Internet is a major
disadvantage to the advancement of knowledge in the country. Internet connectivity is, therefore being given priority attention at this stage.
It is a matter for joy
that a decision has now been taken to start a satellite communications
project in Nigeria. A National Centre for Satellite Technology Development
has been set up alongside the National Space Research and Development
This is a sign of the
good things to come in the area of Satellite Communication in this country.
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK AND TRADE REGIMES FOR
TELECOMMUNICATION - THE I.T.U. AND W.T.O. IN FOCUS
of International law, Faculty of
Awolowo Univeristy, ILE
COMMISSIONED FOR PRESENTATION AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ELECTRONIC
COMMERCE AND TELECOMMUNICATION IN NIGERIA HOLDING AT GOLDEN GATE RESTAURANT,
23 - 26 SEPTEMBER, 2002.
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK AND TRADE REGIMES FOR
TELECOMMUNICATIONS - THE I.T.U. AND W.T.O. IN FOCUS
emerged as the key to the global delivery of services in the present ages.
It is beyond doubt that banking, tourism, transportation and the information
industry all depend on quick and reliable global telecommunications. The
telecommunications sector is also being revolutionised by powerful trends,
such as globalisation, deregulation, restructuring, valued-added network
services, intelligent networks and regional arrangements. These
developments have transformed telecommunications from its earlier status of
public utility to one of having greater links with commerce and trade.
According to the UN (see Basic Facts) About the United Nations), the global
telecommunications market is expected to grow over the coming decade to some
this paper, attention shall be focussed on :
(I) the International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.), the world’s
oldest inter- governmental organisation dating back
to 1865, and
(ii) the World
Trade Organisation (W.T.O.), an organisation which provides a framework
of rules for the conduct of world trade in goods and services
(including telecommunications) and the trade - related aspects of
intellectual property rights and investment measures. The
framework rules provided by the W.T.O. are supported to have profound
impact on international trade and on the world economy well into the twenty - first century. The W.T.O. also provides a forum for
trade negotiations and an institutional mechanism for the
implementation of some 20 Agreements and legal texts negotiated in the
THE INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (I.T.U.)
ORIGIN AND MANDATE
I.T.U. was founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union.
It took its present name in 1934 and became a specialised agency of the
United Nations in 1947.
Union is set up:
(1) to promote
(in the technical area) the development and efficient operation of
telecommunication facilities in order to
improve the efficiency of the telecommunication services and their general
availability to the public
provide and offer technical assistance (in development area) to developing
countries in the field of telecommunications, to promote the mobilisation of
the human and financial resources needed to develop telecommunications and
to promote the extension of the benefits of new telecommunications
technologies to people everywhere
(3) to promote (in policy area) at the international level, the
adoption of a broader approach to the issues of telecommunications in
the global information economy and society.
Within the I.T.U. the
public and private sectors cooperate for the development of
telecommunication and the harmonisation of nations telecommunications
policies specifically, I.T.U.
standards which foster the interconnection of national communications
infrastructures into global networks, allowing the sea unless
exchange of information - be it data, faxes or phone calls - across the
(2) works to
integrate new technologies into the global telecommunications network,
allowing for the development of new applications such as the
Internet, electronic mail and multimedia
international regulations and treaties governing the sharing of the radio
frequency spectrum and satellite orbital positions - finite natural
resources which are used by a wide range of equipment including television
and radio broadcasting, mobile telephones, satellite based communication
systems, aircraft and maritime navigation and safety systems and
wireless computer systems;
to expand and improve telecommunications in the developing world by
providing policy advice, technical assistance, project management and
training programmes and by fostering partnerships between telecommunications
administrations, funding agencies and private organisations (see
Basic Facts) 1998
Within its mandate, the
I.T.U. has been facilitating telecommunications. It is also in the
forefront of telecommunications: For instance it has helped to developed a
new system called “International Freephone Numbers”, through which
businesses will be able to use a single number which customers anywhere in
the world can dial at no cost to place an order, get product information or
obtain after - sale assistance.
It has been stated that
having a “freephone number” is the equivalent of opening an office in every
country one wants to do business in at a fraction of the cost.
The I.T.U. has also
played a major role in the introduction of the Third generation mobile phone
System, called IMT - 2000. I.T.U. allocated the radio frequency spectrum
needed to start operation and provided the forum to reach a global agreement
on the transborder use of the global satellite component of IMT -2000. The
organisation is also preparing the necessary standards for IMT - 2000
including the details of the integration of the satellite component. It is
said that IMT-2000 will make it possible to connect, on a global scale,
mobile fax, messaging, data and even two way voice and broad-band
multimedia, via small, hand-held phone sets, Computer - mounted terminals or
laptops. The aim is to integrate and seamlessly interconnect the various
satellite, terrestrial, fixed and mobile systems currently being deployed
for global communications.
The work of the I.T.U.
in developing global standards which facilitate the interconnection of
different systems has also become increasingly important as more and more
information is processed and distributed electronically.
Early in 1998, I.T.U.
adopted a landmark decision on tehcnical specifications of a new type of
modern, e xpected to be widely used for applications. Such as the Internet
and on-line service access. Increased modern transmission speed is expected
to cut down the time needed by computers transfer information, resulting in
lower telephone bills and foster continued dramatic growth of the Internet.
The I.T.U. has also
taken an active part in the area of the Internet in the restructuring of the
domain - of -names registration system. This is with a view to introducing
a self - governing structure that will lead to competition in the lucrative
market for registration of genetic Internet top-level domain names, with
adequate and diverse public review and input. The new system also aims at
improving the stability, flexibility and transparency of the future growth
of the network
(see Basic Facts 1998).
III. THE REGULATORY REGIME OF
In discussing the
regulatory regime of International telecommunications it is important to
bear in mind Radio Frequency Spectrum (RFS) is a limited natural resource
which is vitally needed by all countries. World-wide communications have
expanded dramatically in recent times. RFS has therefore, become an
increasingly important and increasingly scarce natural resource. The
available supply cannot obviously meet anticipated world-wide demand. It
must, therefore, be apportioned among contending users.
The apportionment of
this resource, however presents some difficulties. Moreso, when one
country’s use of it affects its use by other countries. Rules are
accordingly needed to govern the use of apportioned spectrum. International
Law plays an important role in this regard. And it finds expression in the
International Telecommunication Convention; the Radio Regulations Annexed to
it and internationally adopted technical recommendations. The Rules which
govern the use of RFS are administered incorporated and enforced by the
International Frequency Registration Board (IFRB). This is an independent
body which exists under the framework of the International Telecommunication
Union as a specialised agency of the UN.
The work of the I.T.U.
and the IFRB will be better appreciated when it is realised that as the RFS
become more congested and the number of users multiplies mutual interference
potentially increases, and with it, the need for principles enunciating the
rights and obligations of such users. If there are principles, it is only
logical that there are also regulatory bodies. There certainly would be
less need for such principles and regulatory bodies. If the spectrum could
accommodate the requirements of all users and if each could operate without
stifling the operations of other users. The need for the principles and
bodies is accentuated by the advent of such new communication services as
global communication satellite systems. An observer has indeed noted that
through the years the unrelenting saturation of available spectrum space has
been mirrored in the progressive complexity of International Radio
Regulations and the legal inventions devised by the I.T.U. to strike an
accommodation among competitors for spectrum space.
The law established by
the I.T.U. conventions and Radio Regulations, its administration
interpretation and enforcement by the IFRB constitute the regulatory regime
in this area. Unfortunately there is a pervasive lack of understanding of
the regulatory regime. This is particularly acute with regard to the rights
and obligations of stations providing international communication services
especially among the developing countries. It has been suggested that such
lack of understanding has been identified as underlining the shortage if
frequency assignments. It has to be appreciated however that the Radio
Regulations are by nature difficult to understand. They constitute an extra
- ordinarily intricate and interlocking corpus of law whose meaning is not
susceptible to easy understanding. What is more, the Radio Regulations have
been the preserve of engineers and administrators. Yet many of the central
concepts are essentially legal concepts. The result of the widespread lack
of understanding of the regulatory regime is that the I.T.U. Conventions and
the Radio Regulations, despite their formal status as International Law have
attracted little attention from the legal profession beyond the interest
generated in the 1960s in response to the problems posed by space
communications. Happily, the situations is fast changing. Hence, this
Before, we proceed to
examine the basic features of the Regulatory Regime it is important to note
that in this field legal considerations are inseparable from technical,
operational and administrative factors.
IV. BROAD FEATURES OF THE
Some basic features of
the regulatory regime deserve some attention. The first of this is the
legislative and regulatory processes. Here it would be important to
appreciate at the outset that the regulatory regime of I.T.UY. Does not
function in a vacuum. It is a creature for I.T.U. Conferences especially
the Administrative Radio Conferences. It is also controlled by the I.T.U.
Conferences. The authority of the I.T.U. in this regard can be classified
as legislative and regulatory.
It is at the legislative
process level that the International Radio Conferences representing all
I.T.U. members allocate the usable portions of the Spectrum to different
Communication services like broadcast, aeronautics and mobile. This process
is of a vital importance because a station in a frequency band allocated to
a different communication service must operate on a non-interference basis.
The allocations may incorporate a wide variety of legal distinctions.
Frequencies may be allocated exclusively for one service or to two services
with equal rights or to two services on a primary or secondary basis
respectively. The allocations are normally formally adopted by the
conference and thereafter they appear in Article 5 of the Radio Regulations
in the form of a table of frequency allocations.
The second stage is the
regulatory stage or process. This begins when a country seeking to
establish a station for international or domestic communications designates
or assigns a particular frequency to that station. Such assignments may
then be communicated to the IFRB which Board may then consider an
examination of the notice depending on whether the assignment correspond
with the country concerned. Issue findings with respect to the assignment
in conformity with the conventions and Regulations and the probability of
harmful interference to certain previously recorded assignment and
ultimately record the assignment on the Master International Frequency
frequencies to communication services takes place on the International level
but the assignment of frequencies to specific stations take place on the
national level, but it must be consistent with the international allocations
and other applicable rules. Besides, the IFRB does not distribute frequency
to or withhold frequencies from I.T.U. members. Each country has the right
to select its own frequencies and to insist that its frequency assignments
are recorded in the master register.
The second basic feature
of the regulatory regime is the status of International Telecommunication
Convention and Radio Regulations in International Law. The status of these
instruments as law will be better appreciated when it is realised that two
stations of two I.T.U. members wishing to operate on the same frequency
cannot do so without courting unacceptable mutual interference. The purpose
of the law in this context is to determine which of the two stations has the
priority to operate. One solution to the problems to determine which
station is operating in accordance with applicable international rule and
form that station priority. But what happens, as it is often the case, when
the two stations act in conformity with these rules and yet there is mutual
interference? Other factors must then be taken into account, such as who is
the first user, which station is more “important’, whose station’s country,
has fewer international communication facilities? The I.T.U. conferences
have been facing this problem since 1927.
Certain new principles
establishing the rights and obligations of recorded assignments were
recorded in 1947 including formal recognition of a right to international
protection from harmful interference. The trend since 1947 has been toward
what has been described as “more elaborate procedure but less clear legal
It is a measure of this
development that countries recognising that the spectrum has become
congested have agreed to new international procedures but they have become
increasingly unable to agree on the principles governing the rights and
obligations of their international stations. The result is that while the
spectrum congestion increases the need for rules, it has also made it
difficult to achieve international agreement on such rules.
It should also be noted
that the legal sign plank of elaborate notifications and registration
procedure is no where clearly defined. What is clear is that frequencies
assignments are recorded in the master register to obtain formal
international recognition or the right to protection. Besides, with fear
exceptions, the nature of the rights acquired is not defined in the
conventions or Regulations. This is not to deny the fact that such rights
The following two
principles have been identified as basics of the rights and obligations of
with the applicable international law, namely, the International
Telecommunication Conventions and Radio Regulations, and
(2) Earlier use
and notification to the Brand.
It would appear that the
significance of first principle has not been adequately recognised while the
importance of the second principle has been generally over emphasised. This
is partly responsible for the erroneous impression that harmful interference
disputes between two countries are resolved strictly on the basis of “first
come, first served” principle. Whereas, as in many disputes, this principle
based on first use of a frequency is not a controlling factor and is
sometime not even relevant to a determination of the respective rights of
the parties concerned.
In matters of priority a
station which operates in accordance with the convention and Radio
Regulations will have priority over a station not so operating regardless of
which station first commenced operations and first notified the Board. It
is also important to note that it is only harmful interference that is
proscribed by the Radio Regulations. Any interference which a later
recorded station may cause ana earlier recorded one is not proscribed. It
is a harmful interference that constitute a wrong for this purpose, “harmful
interference” is defined as an emission which endangers the functioning of
other radio services operating in accordance with these Regulations. See
No. 93 of the Radio
It is clear from this
definition of harmful interference that the decisions criterion is not prior
use but conformity with the relevant international law. The result is that
interference is not harmful under the Radio Regulations if the station which
suffer such interference is not itself in conformity with the Regulations.
In fact the principle of prior use and notification becomes relevant when
the first principle of conformity with international law is not sufficient
to determine which of the two stations is a harmful interference disputes
possesses the right to operate.
THE TRADE REGIME
W.T.O. AND MULTILATERAL
THE G.A.T.T. SYSTEM
The General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade, established in 1948, has provided the institutional basis
for trade negotiations in the post war era. The fundamental purpose of the
G.A.T.T. was to achieve “freer and fairer trade” through reduction of
tariffs and elimination of other trade barriers. G.A.T.T. has operated on
the basis of
Non-discrimination, multilateralism, and the application of the Most-Favoured
National principle (MFN) to all signatories.
2. expansion of
trade through the reduction of trade barriers, and
unconditional reprocity among all signatories. GATT’s goal was to establish
a world trade regime or universal rules for the conduct of
commercial policy (Robert Gilpin, 1987).
The G.A.T.T. assumed the
role of the principal institution concerned with the conduct of world
trade. It was also an international agreement by which the signatories to
it had entered into binding legal commitments with one another on important
aspects of their trade policy. It also became an international forum for
multi-lateral consultation and negotiations on trade problems.
obligation under the GATT assumed by all contracting parties is to accord
most favoured-nation treatment to products from other contracting parties.
It is a fundamental principle of the GATT that protection is to be granted
to domestic industries exclusively through the tariff. The use of
quantitative restriction as a means of protection was expressly prohibited
except in certain carefully defined circumstances. Eight Rounds of
negotiations have been held in respect of the G.A.T.T. The Geneva Round,
1947, brought tariff concessions (between founder members) involving some
US$10 billion in trade. The ANNECY ROUND 1949, introduced further tariff
concessions as did the TORGUAY ROUND 1950 - 51 and a Second GENEVA ROUND
1956. In 1960-61, a DILLION Round recognised the European Economic
commencement as a single trading body, while the follow up KENNEDY ROUND
1964-67 out for the first time tariff by whole sectors instead of
product-by-product. In 1973-79, a TOKYO ROUND included newly independent
developing countries and agreed to reduce tariffs on tropical products,
participants also signed agreements on subsidies, technical barriers to
trade, government procurement, meat and dairy products and civil aircraft.
The URUGUAY ROUND took
off in 1986 from where the TOKYO ROUND ended. This round of negotiation
ended on last minute compromise between the world’s two largest trading
blocs-the United States of America and the European Union (EU).
announced approval of a comprehensive accord expected to wholly or partially
eliminate tariffs, subsidies, quotas and other forms of barriers on noted
A new institutional
organisation (W.T.O.) Also came into being under the new agreement, W.T.O.
replaced G.A.T.T. as an institution. With more powers to settle
international trade disputes, it would also ensure growth and liberalisation
of world trade, observance of URUGUAY ROUND rules and settlement of trade
disputes. Unlike GATT the new body will have the authority to enforce
rulings, penalizing unfair trade practices and would serve as an instrument
to extend trade rules into such controversial areas as the environment and
labour standards. The new Uruguay Round treaty, otherwise known as THE
FINAL ACT EMBODYING THE RESULTS OF THE URUGUAY ROUND OF MULTILATERAL TRADE
NEGOTIATIONS Extends G.A.T.T. to services and intellectual property.
AFRICAN AND THE NEW
G.A.T.T. AN APPRAISAL
It has been suggested
that the benefits of the new deal would amount to US$274 billion per year in
extra economic output between 1993 and the year 2002. The URUGUAY ROUND has
also been credited with producing the most fundamental reform of the world
trading system since the establishment of the G.A.T.T. in 1947 (World Bank
Policy Research BULLETIN, November, December, 1995).
The new GATT extends
coverage to more products and countries, and reflects a wider and deeper
commitment to trade liberalisation. It is also envisaged that the
establishment of the W.T.O. will contribute to a necessary strengthening of
the global trading system, with stronger procedures for settling disputes, a
mechanism for reviewing country trade policies and greater involvement of
ministers in decision-making.
However, economies have
tended to differ an out who gains and/or loses (and by how much) from the
new accord. The World Bank Policy Research BULLETIN of November-December,
1995, claims that the URUGUAY ROUND is likely to generate global income
gains of up to $200 billion a year, with somewhere between a third and a
half of the gains going to developing countries, primarily to the ones that
have reduced their own protection and looked in the benefits of earlier
reforms (P.I.). Besides, a study by the GATT Secretariat claims that the
new agreement should add approximately %500,000 million annually to the
world economy, with %116,000 million of that going to the economies of
developing countries and transitional economies (CROSS ROADS), U.S.I.S.
publication, January 1995 p.13). But while trade experts in the developed
Northern hemisphere applaud the Uruguay Round results, variously calling it
the biggest trade deal and the largest market access packages on history,
official opinion in much of the developing world, Africa in particular, has
It has been contended
that the new pact effectively shaped by the US and E.U. has brought unequal
gains to various regions, sub-regions and nations, and indeed, net losses to
some others, particularly African countries. It is projected that the
African continent, as a whole (but excluding Egypt and the Libyan Arab
Jamahuriya) will lose US$26 billion, with Nigeria alone accounting for
US$1.8 billion, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia together losing US $0.6 billion
and South Africa US$0.4 billion.
Developing world experts
have cautioned that the agreement actually involved much reduced commitment
by the EU and the US to open their markets to trade in services, the fastest
growing sector of the global economy. The sector currently accounts for a
fifth of World trade. Both the US and the EU in last minute negotiations
“agreed to disagree” and removed the audio-visual industry (television and
films), maritime activity, financial services and civil aircraft from the
new pact. Maritime transport will remain in the same highly protected state
it was before 1986, and financial services will not be subject to the sacred
most favoured nation principle, where benefits extended to one country must
be given to all.
GENERAL AGREEMENT ON
TRADE IN SERVICES (GATS) AND THE TELECOMMUNICATION ANNEX
Since the Uruguay Round,
the GATT/W.T.O. has successfully linked all sectors including
telecommunications to trade and has provided the basis, through its
agreements and protocols for a common and integrated market for all
economies, developed and developing. With particular reference to
telecommunications. The effect of the GATS and other related agreements on
telecommunications is significant for the development of the emerging
liberalised and open market for trade in telecommunications network services
and facilities. On the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of negotiations
there also emerged the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and
related instrument which included an Annex on Telecommunications. In
furtherance of the GATS objectives of establishing a multilateral framework
for trade in services for the purposes of expansion of such trade as a means
of promoting the economic growth of all trading partners and the development
of developing countries, the Annex on Telecommunications specifically
endorses the principle of transparencies access to and use of public
telecommunications trading networks and services (market access), and
technical cooperation in and among member states. Nigeria is a signatory to
the GATS and its Annexes. Within the broad principles highlighted above, a
Negotiating Group on Basic Telecommunication (NGBT) was established to
further extend or conduct negotiations on voluntary basis on trade in basic
telecommunications with a view to negotiating the comprehensive
liberalisation of trade in telecommunications networks and services within
the GATT framework.
In 1997, the W.T.O.
successfully concluded nearly three years of extended negotiations on market
access for basic telecommunications service use of public basic
telecommunications (both network and service) on reasonable and
non-discriminating basis. The interconnection requirement is to be co-ordinated
under a regulatory discipline. There is a global institutional commitment
to liberalisation and deregulation within established “regulatory
A significant part of
the negotiation is the endorsement of a regulatory environment conducive to
market entry as a way of safeguarding the value of market access already
committed to by member states. It imposes an obligation on member states to
apply the GATT principles to every aspect of their regulatory regimes
affecting access to and use of public basic telecommunications. It requires
each member to ensure that all service providers are accorded access.
W.T.O. GRIEVANCE REDRESS
MACHINERY: AN OVERVIEW THE ANTECEDENTS DISPUTE SETTLEMENT UNDER THE GATT
One of the interesting
and more controversial aspects of the GATT as an institution was its dispute
settlement mechanism. The mechanism was unique. It was also flawed due in
part to the troubled beginnings of GATT. Yet, some have argued that the
dispute settlement procedure worked better than those of the International
Court of Justice (I.C.J.).
One interesting policy
question raised by the experience of the procedure is the question of what
should be the fundamental objective of the system - to solve the instant
dispute by conciliation, power threats, obfuscation or other means or to
promote certain longer-term goals. The difference of opinion about the
basic purpose of goals of the dispute settlement process in the GATT was not
often explicit, and the same individuals sometimes express a preference for
opposite poles of this difference without realising it (Jackson, 1991).
THE PROCEDURE FOR
The I.T.O. Charter would
have established a rather elaborate dispute settlement procedure, but the
GATT, not intended to an “organisation” had only a few paragraphs devoted to
this subject. It is plausible to argue that there are a number of “dispute
settlement” procedures distributed throughout the GATT. But the central and
formal procedures could be found in Article XXII and XXIII.
The first of these
simply established the right to consult with any other contracting party on
matters related to the GATT a right which does not impose a major
obligation, but which is nevertheless useful. Article XXIII was the
centerpiece for dispute settlement. It also provided for consultation as a
pre-requisite to invoke the multi-lateral GATT procedure.
Three features of these
processes should be stressed. First, they are usually invocable on grounds
of “nullification of impairment” of benefits expected under the Agreement,
and do not depend on actual breach of legal obligation. Secondly,
established the power for the contracting parties to not only investigate
and recommend action but to “give a ruling on the matter”. Third, they give
the contracting parties the power in appropriately serious cases to
authorise “a contracting party or parties” to suspend GATT obligations to
other contracting parties.
Each of these features
had important implications although Article XXIII does not say much about
them. However, the procedures followed to implement the principles evolved
through the four decades of practice into a rather elaborate process.
The key to invoking the
GATT dispute-settlement mechanism was almost always “nullification or
impairment”, an unfortunately ambiguous phrase. It was neither sufficient
nor necessary to find a “breach of obligation” under this language, although
later practice did make doing so important. Once case defined the
nullification or impairment (N or 1) phrase as including actions by a
contracting party which harmed the trade of another, and which “could not
reasonably have been anticipated” by the other at the time it negotiated for
a concession (Jackson). The concept of “reasonable expectations” was thus
Even then this
elaboration became very ambiguous. Consequently, a later practice in GATT
developed to enumerate three situations in which the contracting parties and
their panels might find “PRIMA FACIE nullification or impairment”. One of
these situations was the breach of an obligation. The other two were the
use of domestic subsidies to inhibit imports on certain cases, and the use
of quantitative restrictions (even where they would have been otherwise
legal in GATT). In such cases the burden of proof that no N or 1 occurred
as a result of the breach, subsidy, or quantitative restriction shifted to
the country which breached or used those actions. In the absence of a clear
showing that no N or 1 occurred, the GATT practice assumed that the panel
was obligated to make a PRIMA FACIE nor 1 ruling, usually calling for the
offending nation to make its actions conform to the GATT obligation.
At the beginning of
GATT’s history, disputes were generally taken up by the plenary semi-annual
meeting of the contracting parties. Later they were brought to an
“inter-sectoral committee” of the contracting parties. Later, they
delegated to a working party set up to examine either all disputes or only
particular dispute brought to GATT. Around 1955, a major shift in the
procedure occurred, largely because of the influence of the then Director -
General (Jackson). It was decided that rather than use a “working party”
composed of nations (so that each nation could designate the person who
would represent it, subject to that governments instruction) a dispute would
be referred to a panel of experts. The three or five experts would be
specifically named and were to act in their own capacities, and not as
representatives of any government. This development arguably marked a shift
from primarily a “negotiating” atmosphere of multi-lateral diplomacy to a
more “arbitrational” or “judicial” procedure designed to arrive impartially
at the truth of the facts and the best interpretation of the law. All
subsequent dispute procedures in GATT contemplated the use of a panel in
During the Tokyo - Round
negotiation, there was some initiative taken to improve the dispute
settlement processes of the GATT. The so-called “Group Framework Committee”
of the negotiation was given this task, among others. However, partly
because of the existing procedures, this effort did not get very far. The
result was a document entitled “Understanding Regarding Notification,
Consultation, Dispute Settlement and Surveillance”. It was adopted by the
contracting parties at their thirty-fifth session in Geneva in November
1979. Like the other “understandings” resulting from the Tokyo-Round, the
precise legal status of the understanding was not clear. As Jackson as
noted, unlike the Tokyo Round Codes and other agreements, it was not a
stand-alone treaty. It was adopted under the general powers of Article XXV
of GATT. Presumably, it was adopted under the general powers of Article XXV
to “facilitate the operation and further the objectives” of GATT. The
document was nevertheless very interesting and also very influential since
it, along with its annex, consists of a detailed description of the dispute
settlement processes of GATT. In that way, it formed a sort of “
constitutional framework” for these processes.
Jackson has identified
the most salient features of this “restatement” of procedure as the most
explicit provision for a conciliatory role for the GATT Director General,
the provision for Panels (with some ambiguity about whether a complainant
had a right to a panel), reinforcement of the PRIMA FACIE nullification or
impairment concepts, the outline of the work of a panel including oral and
written advocacy, language that permits the use of non-government persons
for panels. While stating a preference for government persons, recognition
of the practice of a panel report with statement of facts, and rationale,
and understanding that the report is then submitted to the contracting
parties for final approval.
Subsequent to the 1979
understanding, there was much dissatisfaction in GATT about the dispute
settlement procedures. At the 1982 ministerial meeting, a new attempt to
improve them was made, again with modest success. The resulting resolution
suggests the possibility of departing from the tradition of requiring a
consensus to approve a panel report, so that the “losing” party could not
block or delay that approval.
The dispute settlement
activity of GATT certainly had its ups and downs, beginning as we have seen
as a relatively informal process, moving to more formal and objective
third-party panels, and gradually developing not only procedural but
substantive legal concepts. During the 1960s, the settlement procedures
fell off, but during the 19702, the United States brought a number of cases
in GATT, and during and after the Tokyo Round, many more cases were brought
(see the attached Table Sourced from John Jackson, THE WORLD TRADING
SYSTEM LAW AND POLICY OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS 1991, p.99).
It would appear that as
at September 1988, appropriately 233 cases were formally brought under
Article XXIII of GATT or under another GATT Agreement 9 of these were
brought under the MTN Code provisions (not the GATT itself). Approximately
42 (18%) were settled or withdrawn before a panel or working party was
constituted and another group were settled or withdrawn before a panel (or
working party) reported its findings. In all, panel or working party
reports were completed in about 73 cases.
Of the panel reports
forwarded to the contracting parties, most were “adopted”. Some others were
merely “noted”, or otherwise were not explicitly approved (although none was
explicitly rejected). The procedure of “adoption” by the contracting
parties was one of the most troublesome parts of the current procedure.
Since the losing contracting party can generally block acceptance by
refusing to form in a “consensus” decision to accept. Of the findings
approved, all but a few gained compliance, although in some cases compliance
took many years to achieve.
DISPUTE SETTLEMENT UNDER
It is obvious that while
GATT rules are diverse and far reaching, their efficacy is much reduced in
review of the generous qualification and the absence of an institutional
adjudicatory body. The problem was compounded by resort to individual
retaliatory action by a number of states in trade matters (Adekunle, 1995).
The major problem of
dispute resolution under GATT rules was the requirement of consensus in all
steps and decisions taken in the process. It was thus possible for a
country against whom a complaint was made to block proceedings for a
considerable period of time.
THE UNDERSTANDING ON
RULES AND PROCEDURES GOVERNING THE SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES,
has addressed these problems. It specifies deadlines for the steps to be
taken in proceedings. While retaining the requirement for consensus. The
maximum time frame for the consideration and adoption of reports by dispute
panels, subject to a mutual agreement to extend, is 9 months where there is
no appeal and 12 months where the report is appealed against.
The dispute resolution
process now has strong institutional support. The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)
is constituted by the Director - General of the W.T.O. It exercises
over-all supervisory authority over panels and appellate bodies. It is
authorised to establish panels, adopt panel and appellate body reports, and
maintain surveillance on implementation of concessions and other
Article III of the
Understanding declares the dispute settlement system of the W.T.O. as a
central element in providing security and predictability to the
multi-lateral trading system.
Article XXII of the
Final Act generally provides for Consultation. Article XXIII provides for
Dispute Settlement and Enforcement. Article 2 of the understanding covers
administration. Article 3 contain General Provisions. Article 4 provides
for Consultation while Article 5 provides for Gild Offices Conciliation and
Mediation. Article 6, 7 and 8 deals with the Establishment, Terms of
Reference and Composition of Panels, Article 9 provides the procedures for
multiple complaints. Article 10 deals with Third Parties, while 11,12, 13
and 14 provide for the Function of Panels, Panel Procedures, Right to Seek
Information and Confidentiality respectively. Article 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19
provide for Interim Review stage. Adoption of Panel Reports, Appellate
Review, Communications with The Panel or Appellate Body and Panel and
Appellate Body Recommendations respectively.
Article 20 provides Time
Frame for DSB Decisions. Articles 2 and 22 are concerned with the
Surveillance of Implementation of Recommendations and Rulings and
Compensation and Suspension of Concessions. Article 24 provides for Special
procedures involving Least Developed Country Members. Article 25 deals with
Appendix 1 lists the
Agreements covered by the understanding. They are:
Establishing the Multi-lateral Trade Organisation;
(2) Agreements on
trade in goods;
Agreement on Trade in Services;
(4) Agreements on
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, including Trade in
on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes;
(6) Agreement on
Trade in Civil Aircraft;
(7) Agreement on
Dairy Arrangement and
Regarding Bovine Meat.
Appendix 2 contains
special or Additional Rules and Procedures contained in the Covered
Appendix 3 provides for
working Procedures while
Appendix 4 contain
Provision for Expert Review Groups (Details of the foregoing are given in
the oral presentation).
In this paper, attention
has been focussed on the International Telecommunications Union (I.T.U.) and
the World Trade Organisation (W.T.O.). What has emerged from the
presentation is that the Telecommunications industry has grown tremendously
in recent times. There is also a global commitment to liberation and
deregulation of the industry. The upshot is the emergence of independent
private sectors in the system. This is in response to the requirement that
all service supplies are accorded access to and use of pushe basic
telecommunications (network and service, a reasonable and non-discriminating
The premium in the new
international telecommunications is trade based on impetus for this
development is the W.T.O. Agreement on Basic Telecommunication Services and
the GATS which preceded it. The subsistence of a telecommunications
industry under a trade regime as recognised by I.T.U. is the basis of the
new milestone set under the policy forum in the Geneva Conference in 1998.
The W.T.O. Agreement on
Basic Telecommunication services will affect all I.T.U. members in many
respects including the new cost-oriented settlement and accounting system.
ECONOMICS OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION
of International Law
Paper commission for Presentation at the
International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Telecommunications in
Nigeria Maximising the Benefits of the Digital Economy: 23-26 September 2002
holding at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos.
ECONOMICS OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION
First, some preliminary
observation. This Conference which partly seeks to create awareness about,
and partly to deepen our understanding of, the “critical issues of
development, law policy and regulation” in Electronic Commerce and the
operative standards and practices in the Telecommunications Economy could
not have come at a more auspicious time than now. Western Society, as we
know only too.
Ademola O. Popoola Phd,
Department of International law Obafemi Awolowo University ILE IFE, Nigeria
Well, has experienced
three major waves of technological advances each of which changed all
aspects of living and working and engendered new challenges for world
management. Each of these waves also required the demise of a previous
social structure and its values, replacing it with new structures and
values. As H. Alan Raymond (1986) hasre-marked with insight, each shift was
also “significantly wrenching and demanding. The Third wave - the
Information Electronic wave - is marked by advances in information and
communications technology (ICT) which advances have done more than almost
anything else to drive the lost decade’s economic boom and the integration
of markets around the plant. It goes without saying that much of the
economic benefit from ICT and the rapid rise of the INTERNET has so far
accrued to the developed world where Electronic commerce is already
transforming many industries and where e-mail, cellular phones and instant
messaging are becoming ubiquitous. Money spent on the digital
infrastructure that supports these burgeoning new services - from Internet
servers to fiberoptic networks - has itself become a major engine of
economic growth in some countries, remarked Allen L. Hammend (2001.5) who
has further observed that ‘The speed with which ICT is advancing, the
corporate economic power it embodies and the wealth it has created are truly
astonishing”. Even then, the revolutionary changes brought on by the
microchip and information technologies have caught many businesses in the
western society off guard.
For the developing
world, there can be no doubt that Internet connectivity is growing, but the
increased productivity and other benefits of the digital revolution are
still mostly prospective (Hammond.ibid). The digital gap or digital divide
between the developed and developing world is quite real. More than half of
the world’s population has no access to phone networks, while 19 out of 20
people worldwide still lack access to the Internet.
It gives without saying
that this lack of access to digital networks is but one of the challenges
that face the four billion people more than half of humanity who live at the
bottom of the economic pyramid on incomes of less than $1,500 a year.
It is against this
background that we intend to discuss the Economics of Telecommunications
Regulation. Two operative concepts in the theme immediately call for
clarification namely, ‘Economics’ and ‘Regulation’. It is to these concepts
that we now turn attention.
II. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
of the earliest economists, Alfred Marshall, once defined economics as a
study of mankind in the ordinary business of life. Other writers have
called economics the practical science of the production and distribution of
wealth” and the science wholly studies human behaviour as a relationship
between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses”. In simple
terms, it is the function of economics to study how people organise
production, consumption and exchange activities as well as manage
expenditure. It is concerned with the manner in which human beings and
societies attempt to satisfy their unlimited and often conflicting wants
by means of resources which are not only limited but also have alternative
uses. Essang and Olayide, 1974.
It is worth noting that
the study of economics is usually approached at two levels - micro and macro
analyses. In micro - economics, the emphasis is on the behaviour of the
individual as a consumer or a producer. Attention is also paid to small
units such as a group of producers, distributors or consumers. In analysing
their behaviour, these units are treated as though they can be isolated from
the rest of the economy. In that wise, the production activity of a firm in
micro-economics is for example, hardly connected with the capital and money
markets which also constitute integral components of the economy.
On the other hand, in
macro-economics, total income, total money supply, and total population,
among other items, are aggregated more importantly, effort is made to relate
one section of the economy to the other. Thus, in analysing employment
problem for instance, one has to look at the relationship among the money
marked, the output market and the labour market. This is because whatever
happens in the money market and the output market has repercussions on the
labour market a no VICE VERSA.
From the foregoing, the
Economics of Telecommunications. Regulation as conceived here shall be
concerned with the manner in which we ‘operate’ and Regulate the
Telecommunications sector with a view to satisfying the apparently unlimited
and often conflicting wants of people in society against the background of
the fact that the available resources in the sector in particular and the
society at large are not only limited but also have alternative uses. Since
our wants are many and the resources available to satisfy them are limited
or scarce, choices have to be made between different wants and alternative
uses of resources. The scarcity of resources forces us to economise and to
do everything possible to make the best use of available goods and services
(Teriba, 1986). When deciding which of our different wants to satisfy first
or later, and with what means we usually arrange and rank our diverse wants
in the order of preference or importance which we attach to them - that is
according to the economists SCALE OF PREFERENCE. Quite obviously people
will have different scales of preference; but for an individual, the wants
with the greatest preference will come highest on his scale of preference,
to be satisfied before others which are of low priority and importance to
him. These are economic issues which call for attention in the context of
telecommunications in this country. The modern form of telecommunications
entail costs above and beyond those normally encountered with the
traditional communication services. Telecommunication service now require
investment in specialised professional skills, extra-administrative
procedures. ‘Investment in computer and decisions regarding tariffs.
Economic calculations must reflect the scope and aims of the Services
envisaged. Economic calculations will also take account of the
profitability and funding of projects. Costs must be minimised by
maintaining efficiency and the investment in specialised skills maximised by
Our approach in this
paper will therefore, be MACRO while not ignoring industry specific issues.
We cannot afford to disconnect one vital sector of the economy from the
others, and treat the telecommunications sector as though it can be isolated
from the rest of the economy. This is what will happen if we adopt a micro
- economic approach and concentrates attention on the “small units” almost
in isolation from the rest of the economy.
We have noted earlier on
that lack of access to digital networks is one of the challenges that face
the four billion people - more than half of humanity - who live at the
bottom of the economic pyramid, on incomes of less than $1,500 a year.
Populations have continued to grow rapidly in the poorest areas of the
world, and a surge of urban migration, bringing with it unprecedented
demands for housing, water, sewage, and jobs, threatens to overwhelm
cities. Biological resources such as forests, fisheries, and the fertile
soil on which billions of people still directly depend for food and income
are being depleted. Ezeveine Poresty persist in many regions while
malnutrition is rising in Africa and Southern Asia, despite abundant world
food supplies, because growing numbers of people can no longer produce
enough food for themselves and are too poor to buy what they need (Hammond.ibid).
These problems are
already wreaking havoc in other areas as well. Potential conflicts over
scarce resources, Large - Scale migration, and urban crime and instability
are already threatening national security in a number of countries. New
forms of terrorism, AIDS and other devastating diseases and the changing
climate are also having destabilising effects. Ever large disparities
between have and have not also undermine the kind of social consensus
essential for stability and political progress. The message which comes
across unmistakeably is that if these dangerous trends continue; if as
Hammond (p.6) has noted “development does not accelerate and if the benefits
of economic progress and new technology do not reach those at the bottom of
the pyramid”, the future looks increasingly troubled. A possible scenario
which we should avoid is one of “an unstable future ridden with conflict and
environmental problems, in which islands of prosperity are surrounded by
oceans of porety and frustration “(ibid). In such a world, even prosperous
regions will fear for their security for as Hammond has declared with
insightful candor, “when all else fails, the poor will learn to export their
misery and anger”. The way out is an imaginative use of emerging
technologies and the creation of synergies or partnerships and cooperation
that “combine the skills of major corporations with the growing strength of
civil society with a view to addressing the problem of the poor in society.
This then is the background to the discussion which follows spring board.
The term ‘Regulation’
has both a broad and a narrow meaning. (Ajai & Owansanya, 1994). The broad
meaning extends the term to encompass any government law of policy that
affects the economy. The narrow meaning limits the term to “direct
government control or enterprise decisions concerning prices, the amount or
quality of output, the nature of the production process and also include the
regulation of entry into an industry by licensing, import controls and
tariffs” (Fels, 1982). The vehicle of regulation in both cases is
It is important to state
there that the regulation of the economy takes many forms, but these forms
are classifiable into two. These, according to White (cited by Ajai and
Owasanya ibid) are :
The former allows a
reasonable autonomy for economic actors and processes. The latter, on the
other hands consists of pervasive state control of the economy White has
further classified parametric action into three “first, the familiar
regulative processes of macro - economic management. (Interest rates,
tariffs, subsidies, taxation etc) taking more or less direct forms, and
charged with providing both a stable matrix for the operation of markets and
corrections for market failures, second the establishment of an
institutional context favourable to industrialisation (for example, a
responsive financial system, or a systematic legal frameworks, third, in the
infrastructural sense, the state lays down the material (communications,
energy, basic construction) and human (education, technique, health),
pre-conditions for industrialisation”.
Ghai (1977) has also
posited that there are two models of control of an economy namely, the
regulatory model where the state administers a variety of controls on the
private sector to influence the conduct of economic actors, who are private
parties and the model whereby the state actually enters into production and
involves itself in the management of the economy.
The regulatory model, as
Ajai and Awasanoye (ibid) have noted, functions through operational
controls. Operational controls are applied either to control the
development of the economy, or to correct the weakness of the market
mechanism, or even the absence of such a mechanism, or to deal with
scarcities of raw materials, foreign exchange or in each case, the intention
is not to let things take their own course, but to influence or control
economic developments. Economic regulation is linked to connotes and is
designed to affect the market mechanism in a direction desired by the
Controls could also be
positive or negative (My.rdal, 1988), Positive control seek to promote a
desired activity, e.g. price subsidies, tax and incentives. Negative
control, on the other hand. Seek to prohibit or restrict particular
activities, e.g. excise duties, and licenses. Discriminary controls are
applied according to the decision of officials while non-discretionary
controls are prescribed law or some other general person or principle and
operate independently of officials.
controls are removed, deregulation occurs. And this happens when the
regulation of the economy or the direction of economic developments is left
to be determined by the market mechanism.
It is worthy of note
that an absolutely de-regulated economy in the sense of withdrawal of state
intervention in the regulative process the institutional context and the
infrastructural sense is unattainable and even undesirable. It does not
exist anywhere in the world. In the practical, world of affairs the terms
‘Regulation’ and de-regulation are contemplated, in terms of the presence or
absence off operational controls over the regulative process or macro -
economy. It is in these senses that we shall be considering
The issues of Regulation
or not to do so with a framework of economic liberalisation of maintain
state monopoly. In the U.K. for instance, the Postmaster-General enjoyed
exclusive privilege over the telephone for over half of a century until
1981. The 1981 Act transferred to the British Telecom (BT) the exclusive
privilege of running telecommunications system. The 1981 Act also empowers
the Secretary of State to permit persons other than BT to supply and
maintain PABX and other terminal equipment.
Licensing or competition. Again in the UK the 1981 Act empowers the
Secretary of State to license the running of new telecommunication system.
This was utilised in order to provide Valued Added Network Services (VANS)
over the public networks.
Duopoly Policy. Again in the UK, in 1983 the conservative government had
determined to make the privatisation of BT its first “flag ship”
privatisation of the nationalised industries. It was accepted that this
move would necessitate a new code governing activities in the mancol place.
UK competition laws were weak and ineffective. In 1983, the Minister for
Information Technology made a statement on future competition policy in
telecommunication to the effect that the Government did not intend to
license operators than BT and mercury to provide the basic telecommunication
service of conveying messages, over fixed links, whether cable, radio or
satellite, both domestically and internationally during the period to
November 1990. Besides public systems were to be interconnectable. Simple
rescue capacity over circuits leased from BT and mercury would not with
certain exceptions eventually in relation to data services, be permitted in
the period before July 1989.
(4) Creating a
Development of competition for a proper appreciation of this issues. In the
next segment of the paper, we shall put telecommunications technology in its
proper historical and cultural contexts.
III. HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL
The telephone was
invented almost 130 years ago by Alexander Graham Bell. In those 130 years,
the telecommunications network has grown to become the largest man made
machine ever made, handling more than 1000 billion calls a year and
encompassing the whole globe (Colin D. Long 1995). The principal
developments during that tone have been summarised by Colin D. Long (page 4)
1889 Development of
first automatic exchange (Strangers)
1895 Development of
radio communications by Marconi.
1901 First radio
communication across the Atlantic
1946 First electronic
1948 Invention of the
1956 First trans
Atlantic telephone cable
Invention of Optical
of digital communications: First Electronic exchanges start of major growth
in data communications.
Introduction of cellular
1990s Introduction of
intelligent networks multimedia.
There can be little
doubt that the most rapid period of growth is the priod from the late 1960s
to the present day. The rapid growth is attributable to the developments in
electronics the development of digital communications and the convergence of
telecommunications and computing technologies; the development of optical
fibres, and the application of micro - electronics to radio communications.
There are new more than 800 million telephone. The growth rate for data
terminals is about 20 percent per annum. This rapid growth has been
accompanied by a SHARP FALL IN COSTS AND PRICES (Long).
Today, almost all new
systems are digital, because such systems offer
capability of carrying a multiplicity of services in a common form.
robustness in the presence of noise or interference, and
commonality of components and techniques, with computing (ibid).
Until the early 1980s,
in almost all countries telecommunications was the subject of monopoly
supply with the public network operator normally being a state crued
corporation or government department. Subscribers were not allowed to own
their own telephones. There was also little choice in the models that could
be rented from public network operator. This resulted in a situation whereby
manufacturers supplied only to public network operators and those operators
are often became closely involved in the activities of their suppliers by
funding research and development and arranging orders to supply a reasonably
constant stream of work. In effect the whole telecommunications culture was
dominated by the public network operators.
This scenario (one of
monopoly) represented a sharp contrast to the competitive culture of the new
computing industry which used to a large extent the same technology and saw
rapid reductions costs and improvements in capabilities.
There was the need for
interconnectivity at an international level. This was met through the
International Telecommunications Union (I.T.U.), and the I.T.U. which
prepared technical recommendations primarily on the interconnection and
inter-operation of natural services. The main participants in the I.T.U.
were the public network operators, although other parties coned contribute.
In practice they exerted much less influence. The first wave of change to
this monopoly culture came from the developments in data, communications
between computers, where the competitive computer culture said the
advantages of standardisation in avoiding customers being locked into
particular renders, and began to develop OPEN Systems Interconnection (OSI).
The early standards wok on OSI was carried out through the normal
standardisation boches (I.S.O.), which had a much more open structure than
the I.T.U.T. and with more involvement of manufacturers and academics. Good
cooperation eventually evolved between the two groups.
The development of
competition occurred first in the supply of terminal equipment and is
spreading more gradually to the provision of services and infrastructure
starting with data and value added serviced. As a result of the need for
inter-connectivity, and also the need to protect the public networks from
the harm that could be caused by connecting unsatisfactory apparatus,
competition created a large new demand for standards for national as well as
The process of
liberalisation created a major need for technical standards which need is
being met in Europe to a large extent by the European Telecommunications
Standards Institute (ETSI) which was created out of some of the technical
committees of the old European conference of Posts and Telecommunication (CEPT).
It is worthy of note
that with the digitalisation of telecommunications, the technologies of
computing and telecommunicating are converting rapidly. We have already
seen that the backgrounds of the two cultures are different. While
telecommunications was closed, standardised, and monopolistic, computing is
open, unstandardised and competitive.