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Michael Kende, Internet Global Growth: Lessons for the Future (Sept. 2012) (full-text).


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold a treaty conference, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), in December 2012, which will revise a 1988 treaty, the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). The ITR treaty established how operators compensate each other for terminating international voice calls through the payment of settlements. This paper demonstrates that adapting the ITR treaty to the Internet is not only unnecessary, but could harm the growth of the Internet in developing countries for the following reasons:

  • The Internet and the international voice network are fundamentally different: The two networks differ substantially in terms of technology, architecture and market structure. Any attempt to impose settlements, which are increasingly difficult to apply even to voice, to the Internet are likely to hinder its development and evolution.
  • Imposing ITU accounting rules on the Internet will harm developing countries: Any attempt to impose settlements would lead some providers to take actions to lower their settlement fees, while others would take actions to increase their settlement earnings, which could impact the availability of content and corresponding investments in developing nations.