When to regulate in the GIS? A public policy perspectiveFod Barnes
What fundamental rules are needed for the information economy?
There are contrasting views on what is required, from governments, producers and even consumers, for the new information economy (or the e-economy) to 'take off', and to deliver the 'best' outcome. The range of views is sufficiently different (see other chapters in this book, for example) to indicate that there is no general agreement as to what the problem is, rather than just being alternative approaches to the same problem. This chapter, based on the experience of being at the centre of regulating the UK telecommunications industry for nine years, is an attempt to better define the fundamental problem(s) that exist now (and are likely to persist), before going on to suggest where the solutions may lie.Other chapters deal with the detail of what regulation is, or is not, needed see for example the chapter by Richard Collins. My purpose is not to deal with the detail but, if possible, with the big (economic) picture. At best, the big picture may (with some more work) create the framework for resolving some of the apparent contradictions and disagreements in the detail. At a minimum it should create a framework that is capable of being shot down, and therefore improved.There are three main issues I wish to deal with in this chapter:
|• What are the really important characteristics of convergence?|
|• How do they change the underlying economic problems of (tele)communications?|
|• What does that mean for the proper 'regulation' of communications?|
Not understanding the wood for the trees
But first it is necessary to dispose of a small problem of language: 'regulation', and hence 'deregulation', 'liberalisation' and 're-regulation' are politically charged terms, and mean very different things to different people. 'Regulation' is also often contrasted to 'competition' as if they were more or less mutually exclusive-which ignores probably the most important developments in telecom-munications, regulation for competition. To try to avoid purely semantic disagreements