Telecommunications Politics: Ownership and Control of the Information Highway in Developing Countries

Telecommunications Politics: Ownership and Control of the Information Highway in Developing Countries

Telecommunications Politics: Ownership and Control of the Information Highway in Developing Countries

Telecommunications Politics: Ownership and Control of the Information Highway in Developing Countries

Synopsis

This volume brings together scholars and policymakers to address the issue of telecommunications policy in developing countries. It elaborates on the position that economics and technology determine the framework for discussion, but politics makes the decision. Politics, in this case, refers to the dynamics of the power structure generated by the historical and contemporary context of state, social, economic, and cultural forces. The chapter authors address the system of information transportation -- the telecommunications sector in developing countries ranging from low-income countries with overburdened, rural roads in south Asia and Africa trying to catch up to digitalized fibre-optic superhighways in middle income countries such as Singapore. The organization of the book reflects a contextually situated intellectual viewpoint. The first part presents a historical and conceptual introduction to changes in the organization of telecommunications. The second part analyzes the major external and internal forces that have influenced the process of private sector participation in telecommunications. The third part offers ten comparative country case studies that provide evidence of the diverse conditions, goals, and processes of the realignment of public and private tasks in the telecommunications industry. Finally, contributors address the issue of regulation from differing positions -- a pragmatic, "how-to-cope" discussion for developing country decision makers. The diverse perspectives in this volume should provide help to developing countries in their struggle with proposals received from international banks, private investors, interested "big powers," and their consulting firms.

Excerpt

Andrés B. Bande
Ameritech International, Inc.

I recently spoke at a Michigan State University workshop where early drafts of the following chapters were discussed. It was a pleasure to inaugurate that seminar, and an honor to be invited to share those inaugural comments with a wider readership through this Foreword. I have always been in favor of corporate participation in academic initiatives and believe that such exchanges benefit not only the participants, but the public interest at large.

There is no doubt that we are experiencing an Age of Privatization. However, as is often the case, after a generation or so, the pendulum of public opinion swings strongly in the other direction. the renewed faith in privatization now reverses the trend toward state ownership that began at the turn of the century in Britain, France, Germany, and other industrially advanced nations.

After the Great Depression, which was interpreted internationally as the failure of the marketplace, governments perceived the necessity to intervene to ensure the smooth functioning of the national economy. Interventionist philosophy, along with natural monopoly and national security considerations, came together to justify the national ownership and operation of telecom networks.

More recently, government corruption, the influence of Margaret Thatcher, and the international discrediting of centrally planned economies have contributed to swinging the pendulum in the other direction--renewing faith in private capital. However, we must be careful not to let the . . .

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