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Proposed Code of Competition for the Provision of Telecommunication Services

Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive/Director-General (Telecoms), IDA Singapore - Opening Remarks IDA's Second Public Forum on Proposed Code of Practice for Competition

Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive/Director-General (Telecoms), IDA Singapore - Opening Remarks
IDA's Second Public Forum on Proposed Code of Practice for Competition
Singapore, 6 Jul 2000

1. I would like to welcome you to the IDA's second public forum on the "Proposed Code of Competition for the Provision of Telecommunication Services" or Proposed Code in short. I am indeed encouraged by the high level of interest shown by the industry and the active and constructive participation so far in the development of the Proposed Code. I would therefore like to begin this morning's session by thanking all the respondents who contributed their comments and views on IDA's first draft of the Proposed Code. We have reviewed all the comments extensively. Certainly, the comments and suggestions submitted raised very interesting and useful perspectives, which we have seriously considered. The feedback received was invaluable in facilitating our efforts to further refine and improve the Proposed Code for the benefit of consumers and industry.

2. In light of the proposals and submissions received, as well as our own further thinking, we made several modifications to the Proposed Code which are contained in the revised draft that we released last Friday. We would like to use this second public forum to highlight the key changes made to the Proposed Code and to clarify the rationale behind these changes. We would also like to take this opportunity to hear your views and respond to any queries you might have with regard to the proposed changes.

3. While the next segment of this forum will provide you with more details on the proposed changes, let me highlight two of the more significant modifications. Firstly, we have revised the Proposed Code to accelerate the process through which Licensees can enter into Interconnection Agreements. Here, we have made revisions to the Proposed Code to provide greater clarity and guidance on the rights and obligations of Licensees on interconnection and facility sharing, with special emphasis on the role of the Dominant Licensees. In particular, we have clarified these "paths" by which a Licensee can reach an Interconnection Agreement with a Dominant Licensee. We have also added provisions to ensure that agreements that have been reached are implemented promptly and completely. These changes are intended to minimise the obstacles to reaching and implementing Interconnection Agreements, which have been a significant source of delay in other countries. This will in turn, facilitate rapid network and service deployment, and enable quicker time to market for the new entrants.

4. Secondly, we have strengthened the provisions regarding anti-competitive conduct in the revised Proposed Code and tightened potential loop-holes to ensure that all Licensees are able to compete effectively, fairly and without any undue discrimination. The changes to the Proposed Code will make clear the boundaries of the playing field, thereby providing all players with a greater level of certainty with regards to what they can or cannot do.

5. From a regulatory perspective, the IDA seeks to achieve a balance between competing policy demands. The revised Proposed Code strives to set clear boundaries with regard to competitive market behaviour while providing sufficient room and flexibility for all players to innovate and respond quickly to market development and trends. The Code also aims to facilitate industry-driven Interconnection Agreements and to encourage continued infrastructure investment and development by ensuring that operators' build-or-buy decisions are based on the appropriate economic pricing signals.

6. On this point, let me also stress that the IDA is committed to taking an increasingly light-handed approach towards regulation as competitive market forces develop. As these forces take root, we will place increasing reliance on market forces to govern the competitive activities of the industry with a greater emphasis on private commercially-driven negotiations and industry self-regulation, rather than regulatory intervention. As a start, we are encouraging the industry to set up industry bodies to discuss the appropriate and necessary technical and operational processes and procedures to be in place to facilitate smoother transition to a fully competitive market. Ultimately, industry participants should recognise that it is in their mutual interest to co-operate with each other on certain matters such as making it easy for customers to change from one service provider to another.

7. Finally, to ensure that the extent and reach of our regulations will reflect the on-going development of the market, we are committed to continuously review and streamline our regulations to ensure that we focus our requirements only in areas where competition has yet to fully develop or fails to meet the needs of the public. These regulations will be no broader than necessary to achieve our goals. We will also maintain open channels of communication with providers and end users to ensure that your feedback is heard and your needs addressed.

8. I am confident that today's forum will be an useful one indeed. I encourage everyone present to participate actively in today's session. This will enable us to develop a Telecommunication Code of Practice that will meet the needs of the economy and end-users as well as the industry. I also want to urge you to submit written comments to IDA regarding the revisions to the Proposed Code. These comments must be filed no later than noon, Friday 14 July. I wish you all a fruitful discussion.

9. Thank you.