African standardization experts take aim at mobile roaming

African standardization experts have agreed to develop a technical standard (ITU-T Recommendation) establishing a uniform costing model for mobile roaming in the African region.

The decision to target a reduction in African mobile roaming rates came of a meeting of the SG3 Regional Group for Africa (SG3RG-AFR) held in Brazzaville, 20-21 February 2014, at the invitation of the Regulatory Agency for Post and Electronic Communications (ARPCE) of the Republic of the Congo. The meeting followed the Regional Economic and Financial Forum of Telecommunications/ICTs for Africa organized by ITU’s Development Sector (ITU-D).

SG3RG-AFR represents the interests of the African region in the standardization work of ITU-T Study Group 3 (Economic and policy issues). Alongside the commitment to tackle mobile roaming, the group’s Brazzaville meeting also led to the agreement to revise Recommendation ITU-T D.600 R “Cost methodology for the regional tariff group for Africa applicable to the international automatic telephone service”.

SG3RG-AFR’s working group on alternative calling procedures such as ‘call-back’ and ‘hubbing’ initiated a study into the topic, beginning with the development of a detailed questionnaire as one of the study’s building blocks. A similar questionnaire is under development on the impact of the Internet on SMS and voice traffic.

The impact of over-the-top (OTT) players in the Web economy on the revenues and business models of incumbent network operators was another central topic of discussion and was agreed to be investigated by SGRG-AFR’s working group on the economic impact of the Internet.

The group is also prioritizing regional collaboration as it develops contributions to SG3 on the use of commercial agreements in international telecommunications services. A working group was established on this topic, in line with the spirit of the revised International Telecommunication Regulations.

In addition, members of SG3RG-AFR discussed the potential role of the group in studying the economic impact of radio spectrum pricing. The need for universal standards on spectrum valuation and pricing was proposed as an item for discussion within SG3, recognizing that the technical aspects of spectrum management are the remit of ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). SG3RG-AFR thus charged a new working group with investigating a potential role for SG3 in spectrum pricing that would be consistent with national sovereignty and the priorities of the African region in this regard. The mandate of the Working Group on international internet connectivity was also renewed.

The next meeting of SG3RG-AFR is provisionally scheduled for February 2015 in Sao Tome and Principe, with Tanzania offering to host the meeting in the event of any requirement for an alternate venue.

More information on ITU-T Study Group 3 and its four Regional Groups can be found here…

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