Prepared by Fiona M. Alexander, July 2007
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Fiona Alexander is an Associate Administrator in the Office of International Affairs for the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in Washington, DC. In her previous role as a Senior Telecommunications Policy Analyst at NTIA she developed and advocated US ICT policy positions in international fora, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
During Fiona’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand she was based at the Ministry of Economic Development, where she completed a comparative analysis of the ways New Zealand and the United States are trying to meet their national ICT goals in the face of converging technology platforms.
It is incumbent upon policy-makers and regulators at all levels to nurture an environment that enables competition and encourages investment so that ubiquitous, affordable access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) is achieved. Complicating this is the fact that boundaries between traditional telecommunications and broadcasting transmission platforms are now converging into one ICT sector. This paradigm shift in communications requires policy-makers and regulators to re-evaluate existing norms and conventions with respect to key issues including: facilitating competition; encouraging investment; ensuring public interest goals and objectives; and addressing human resource considerations. It is imperative that, when addressing ICT issues in the context of today’s convergence, policy-makers and regulators be forward-looking and attempt to provide the most flexible regime possible so as to not stifle innovation.
When considering these issues the New Zealand government need not limit its policy options to those being implemented in Europe, nor need it wholeheartedly embrace the United States model. Instead, New Zealand should look to develop its own way, in accordance with its unique characteristics. This paper provides a comparative analysis of New Zealand and the United States and offers 5 recommendations for New Zealand ICT stakeholders to consider as they move forward with regulatory reforms.
Conclusions and Recommendations
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