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Belarusian ICT market development future trends: a round table discussion at the Parliament

Author: Mikhail Doroshevich


The third round table discussion within the framework of joint UNDP-Belarusian government programme " ICT Support to Parliament " which took place in Minsk on the 25th of May this year was devoted to the issues of ICT market (competition, regulation, liberalization). Belarusian and foreign experts, members of Belarusian parliament, managers of national operator, providers and other stakeholders participated in the discussion. Olga Filippova (Ukarine) presented Ukranian experience of the Law on telecommunications implementation. Feliksas Dobrovolskis (Lithuania) described Lithuanian ICT market strategy .

Participants stressed the necessity for development of a comprehensive strategy of stimulation and liberalization of ICT market in Belarus.

Beltelecom general director Nikolai Krukovski agreed that privatization of Beltelecom is unavoidable, but he stressed that the process should go slowly in Belarus in order not to make false steps and profit by other countries' experience. In this respect Nikolai Krukovski mentioned adoption of new norms fostering liberalization of ICT market as a strategic task. Beltelecom director focused on the necessity for establishing of Universal services foundation based on licensed providers' and operators dues. According to Nikolai Krukovski, frequency resources should be "paid and regulated by the state". All these elements were taken into account when amendments to the Law on telecommunications (1994) were discussed. Besides, added Nikolai Krukowski, in a new version of the Law on telecommunications which has been put forward by the Ministry of telecommunications and informatization such terms as "electric coupling", "communication lines", "operator", "regulator" are defined.

It turned out that there is no such term as "provider" in the new draft law and the term "operator" will be used to denote both providers and operators. Ukrainian expert Olga Filippova noted that is not quite correct suggestion as providers are reality and can't be excluded from the range of ICT market actors.

Alexei Kolb criticized terminology of the new draft law as well and explained that terminology vagueness could created serious obstacles for ICT market actors. He noted that there are no definitions of such terms as "service provider", no clearly stated difference between terms "licensing" and "certification" and etc. "Too many issues are left "for tomorrow". Though the draft law creates good perspectives it many clauses are not clearly stated",- stressed A. Kolb. Besides, he expressed some anxiety, having said: "Amendments to the existing law can create situation when new licenses should be obtained instead of the existing ones. Dues to the Universal services foundation can become a kind of new taxes for operators".

Responding to that Andrei Nareiko, MP and one of the authors of the new draft law, suggested that all interested persons should sent their comments to the Draft law working group.

Lithuanian expert Feliksas Dobrovolskis shared Lithuanian experience in this respect :" In Lithuania license holders could apply to authorities or to the court and state infringement of their rights because of the new telecommunications law and get some compensation".

Participants of the discussion defined major preconditions for structural ICT market reforms:

  • Law on telecommunications as ICT constitution;
  • Beltelecom privatization
  • Creating independent national regulatory body.
Then the priorities are
  • clear definition of telecommunications development strategy (privatization, development of private sector; harmonization of interests of all the market players);
  • clear vision of basic ICT market regulation model;
  • clear framework for creation and activities of national regulatory body;
  • clear description of Beltelecom privatization process.
Though ICT sector has been developing actively during the recent years, there are some threats to that development. And the major obstacles are narrow bureaucratic approaches to the reforms. Nevertheless, participants of the discussion expressed their hope that these obstacles would not stop processes of liberalization of Belarusian ICT market and Belarus integration into the global information society would continue.

Useful links:

United Nations in Belarus
The House of Representatives
Olga Filippova "The Ukrainian Telecommunications Law" [ppt]
Feliksas Dobrovolskis "Telecommunications market liberalisation" [ppt]
E-governance strategy for Belarus: a round - table discussion
Public and private sectors discuss e-strategy for Belarus

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