Next generation networks in South Africa and Flanders. A comparative perspective on policy, regulation and services
01/01/2002 - 31/12/2006
Has been finalized

The industrialized world is on the brink of a new broadband revolution. In industrialized countries users have more and more access to broadband services, which are always on, allowing access to enhanced services and video, VoIP, etc. Furthermore, although there is still a tradeoff between higher connection speeds and mobility UMTS and WIFI offer users new possibilities for fast access on the move. Apart from classical Internet connections, fixed but especially wired broadband networks, offer new service possibilities over a myriad of devices such as notebooks, tablet PCs, digital paper, PDAs, mobile phones with extended capabilities, etc.

The digitization of networks also means that almost all networks can broadcast television or video-on-demand services and interactive digital television services. Especially in Flanders where both the cable company and the incumbent telecom company have near universal service to households interactive digital television might offer new possibilities for service delivery to groups previously not served.

While industrialized countries are enhancing their networks fast, the question remains what these new developments mean for the developing world. The developing world is trying to close the digital divide defined in terms of being or not being connected to the Internet. The rise in the width of access poses new challenges to developing counties. The former question is the rationale behind a two year collaborative research project between SMIT and LINK Centre. In four workshops, organized in Flanders and South-Africa, the institutions will focus on four main issues around broadband development: 1) Future usages, 2) Industrial policy, 3) Regulation of competition and 4) Policy and societal objectives.