International Accounting Rate Reform in Telecommunications

Twenty European countries came together in 1865 to form an organisation, the predecessor to the International Telecommunications Union and to arrive at mechanisms and agree upon a methodology of distributing the revenues from the international telegraph service. The current accounting rate system is a modified version of the then developed methodology for the International telegraph. This international settlement regime based on accounting rates has long been under attack by economists, policy-makers in developed countries and international trade organisations. The ITU, the OECD, the FCC and other regulatory bodies are pursuing various initiatives to reform or replace the existing accounting rate system. These regulatory initiatives are aimed at reducing the current pricing distortions embedded in the accounting rate system. In the wake of the WTO agreement, a system of traffic compensation that is not ‘cost oriented’ is not only unsustainable, it is also in violation of the regulatory principles set out in the WTO reference paper.