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ACORN-REDECOM Conference 2009 Mexico City September 04-05 2009. Regulation and innovation in the Argentinean telecommunications sector. Martha Garcia-Murillo Convergence Center Syracuse University School of Information Studies USA [email protected] Matías Fernández Díaz

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ACORN-REDECOM Conference 2009 Mexico City September 04-05 2009

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ACORN-REDECOM Conference2009 Mexico CitySeptember 04-05 2009

Regulation and innovation in the Argentinean telecommunications sector

Martha Garcia-Murillo

Convergence Center

Syracuse University

School of Information Studies


[email protected]

Matías Fernández Díaz

Centro de Tecnología y


Universidad de San Andrés


[email protected]

Research Question

  • What are the factors that affect innovation in the Argentinean telecommunications sector?


  • Innovation is a relatively new phenomenon for developing nations.

  • In these countries, the main concern has been connectivity

  • Why innovation?

  • Why Argentina?

Innovation and government

  • In most developing countries, companies imitate technologies from developed nations.

  • What is considered an innovation in this study?

  • Even imitation innovation require adjustments that companies have to make to be able to attract users.

Innovation and government II

  • There are three ways in which government can affect innovation.

    • Affect the demand, thus potentially opening the door for new technology to get developed.

    • Affect the technical standards that are used in the market.

    • Affect the resources available to corporations. (We focused on this)

The resource based theory of innovation regulation

  • A resource is a physical entity that can provide the means for a company to conduct its businesses

  • The resource based theory of innovation regulation, refers to the way in which regulators affect the quantity and the manner in which resources are used by corporations.

  • We assume that the amount and access to resources affects how they are used as well as companies’ willingness or ability to innovate.

Innovation and resources

Effect of resources on innovation with and without competition

Innovation and resources II

Type of innovation based on the amount of resources

Innovation and Regulations

  • Regulations are instruments that govern the conduct of companies or individuals.

  • There are three important roles that regulators have control over that can affect a company’s resources:

    • Issue rules and regulations on an established law

    • Issue licenses which control entry to the market

    • Enforce those rules and regulations to prevent abuses and violations

Establishment of rules and regulations

  • Fig 3a and 3b show how the time that it takes for regulation to be issued affects the resources and, consequently, innovation in the private sector


Fig 4a and 4b: Impact of timing and predictability in license acquisition on innovation


  • Enforcement affects resources.

  • Companies are being disadvantaged by the abuses.

  • The actions that the regulator fails to take, negatively impact companies' resources.

  • 3 elements that can affect resources because of the manner in which enforcement is carried out:

    • Timing

    • Predictability

    • Fairness in the resolution

Enforcement II

  • Figure 5a, 5b and 5c. Impact of timing and predictability on enforcement.

  • When regulators are continually unpredictable, do not enforce regulation and take a long time to make decisions, there can be a severe and long term negative impact on innovation (“Once bitten, twice shy.”

Methodology and data collection

  • This is primarily an exploratory qualitative study. We rely on news reports, and interviews from which to collect data.

  • We interview 22 companies and regulators

Methodology and data collection II

The impact of regulation on innovation

  • Regarding laws, regulations and tariffs in particular, large companies are critical about the way these are being handled.

  • From the interviews, this was a common answer:

    "There is not a clear framework; there is a lack of legal stability and not only in the regulatory level, this unpredictability is general. Argentina often makes changes in taxes, fees and contributions. There are huge amounts of fees at the different levels of government that make the service even more expensive for consumers.”

On Entry: Licenses

  • The process of awarding licenses in Argentina can take between two and five years.

  • Currently, many agencies are involved in the awarding of licenses, which has become a very bureaucratic procedure: CNC, SECOM and MinPlan

  • Common statements about licenses were;

    "There is huge inefficiency and we try to find an alternative to survive by other means," said a manager of an SME in Capital Federal.

    "There is very little predictability and it depends a lot on the administration in charge of the secretary," said a manager of an SME that gives legal advice to telecom businessmen.

On Entry: Licenses II

  • The lack of licenses is impeding entry and limiting investment, is also forcing companies to enter illegally or operate under the auspices of others.

    “Prior to our license award, we had to work under the supervision of another company.”

    “Those who were cable TV providers were not allowed to provide any type of transport services. We started allowing other cable companies to sell their bandwidth under our name”

On Entry: Licenses III

"I was very much involved in the licensing award to my company, I learned a lot of regulatory issues and fortunately we had success in achieving our goal. But other companies have not been able to obtain a license after 4 or 5 years. Many SMEs which were operating under the license of other companies had stopped offering their services due to the incumbent complaints and had their equipment seized."

  • Access to a market is a key resource without which a company cannot operate.

  • The limited competition that results from few entries is likely to negatively affect innovation as well.

On disputes: Enforcement

  • Major complains: high interconnection prices – if conceded- and tariffs. They have not been adjusted since Argentinean crisis in 2001-02.

  • "In 2001 there were around twenty small firms which had problems by the reluctance of the incumbents who did not want them interconnected to their networks. If the CNC was involved, the incumbents then gave them very limited network capacity, which often caused busy lines and customer complaints."

On disputes: Enforcement II

  • The regulator needs to fairly and timely, enforce its laws and regulations to make sure that all players enjoy similar resources. Unequal and often abusive terms are limiting competition, resources and innovation.

  • “I often see instances of companies that are not able to interconnect with incumbents. I saw many companies willing to invest but the interconnection was denied. The enforcement rules are not clear.”

  • “In some places we are incumbents’ customers and competitors. This is a problem for us because if they provide services in the same areas, they become competitors and we must treat them with prudence.”

On the passage of rules and regulations

  • Innovations carried out by companies rely on the passage of new laws or regulations, or the updating of those that already exist.

    • Tariffs

      “Tariffs are not updated; there is no reference price for termination charges, no specifications for facilities access from one carrier to another. This creates an artificial barrier. The regulator must be aware of the fact that investment is not a philanthropic activity”.

    • Number Portability

      “Customer preservation will rely exclusively on customer service. The operator will have to take more care of their customers”.

On the passage of rules and regulations II

  • Universal Service Fund

    “Governmental agencies do not always ‘respect’ this fund which is exclusively owned by the telecommunications company. The fund has not been used in any significant project as far as I am concerned.”

  • Spectrum

    "The NCC created a record of those companies interested in offering WiMax-based services. More than 1250 SMEs and cooperatives were enrolled. The auction was to take place in March 2009. These enrolled companies have invested more than $25 million. For now there is no willingness to auction this frequency band.”

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Not only independence, transparency, and accountability that matters. Investment in innovation and invention also requires timely and predictable policy decisions, as well as fair enforcement.

  • Inaction negatively affects the innovative process.

  • Even in adverse circumstances companies continue to operate and introduce innovations.

  • An uncertain regulatory context negatively affects innovation (delay, inaction and lack of predictability).

  • Regulators, even when late, should provide clear time and decision guidelines that can help companies plan their long term investments.

Thank You!

Martha Garcia-Murillo

Convergence Center

Syracuse University

School of Information Studies


[email protected]

Matías Fernández Díaz

Centro de Tecnología y


Universidad de San Andrés


[email protected]

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