Supporting the “broadband revolution” in the South Caucasus

The EBRD’s Legal Transition Team is implementing an electronic communications training programme for regulating authorities in the South Caucasus

Similar to developments already taking place globally, the countries of the South Caucasus are beginning to experience the start of a “broadband revolution”.

Consumers everywhere are demanding higher capacity broadband services in order to join the global information society and social networking boom. Businesses and governments throughout the region are waking up to the “broadband revolution” potential.

Facing up to the challenges

Along with the benefits, however, come the challenges of ensuring sufficient investment to build or upgrade high-capacity infrastructure and services. Adoption of proven international best practice regulatory frameworks is key to ensure and maintain the fully competitive market conditions which are essential for investor confidence and meaningful consumer choice and protection.

Electronic Communications Regulatory Development Programme

As part of the long established Electronic Communications Regulatory Development Programme, assisting policy makers to develop and implement best practice regulatory frameworks, the EBRD’s Legal Transition Team (LTT) has launched a series of training programmes aimed at strengthening the institutional and technical capacity of regulating authorities and increasing awareness of modern electronic communications and competition concepts amongst officials, commercial operators and consumers alike.

The first of these 8-week long training programmes, organised with the cooperation of the Georgia National Communications Commission (GNCC), was completed in July 2010 in Tbilisi. Two further country programmes are currently underway in cooperation with the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) of Armenia, in Yerevan, and with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) of Azerbaijan, in Baku.

Finland’s support

Thanks to the financial support of the government of Finland that provided €750,000 grant funds, these programmes are prepared in cooperation with sector stakeholders, tailored to respond to specific training needs and to solve local regulatory issues. Finland has one of the world’s most advanced markets and has been an early adopter of new digital technologies. The Finnish case study, along with many other examples of implementing high growth information society development agendas, is included in the EBRD training programme. Hearing about the experience from other countries is essential to the success of the fast growing electronic communications and media sectors in South Caucasus.