Realizing the importance of international interaction, the NTRA is seeking to enhance and consolidate its international relations with its counterparts. In this context the NTRA received consultants from European countries during the third week of July to exchange experience on major regulatory topics, namely Universal Service and Interconnection.
Part of this consultancy comes within framework of the second phase of the New Approach to Telecommunication Policy (NATP II). The aim of the NATP project in general is to assist the telecommunications policy and regulatory authorities of the MEDA countries in the various phases of liberalization of the telecommunications markets, particularly in the field of the policies, institutes and tools for regulating the markets. The long term objective is to enhance convergence between the regulatory approaches of the MEDA countries and the European Union, and to establish close co-operation between their regulatory authorities.
To maximize the benefits derived from the NATP II projects, four thematic taskforces were formed from NTRA representatives. These taskforces include:
• Spectrum Pricing
• Regulatory Accounting and the Development of Cost-based Wholesale (interconnection) and Retail Price Controls
• Designing a Policy to Open up Fixed Telephony Markets to Competition
• Making the Universal Service Mechanism Operational
In activation of this phase, the NTRA receives consultancy missions which aim at facilitating the cooperation between the European Commission consultants and the taskforces formulated at NTRA for the different technical areas.
The first mission took the form of a three-day workshop from 18-20 July 2006; Ms. Claire Milne, Universal Service consultant, met with NTRA Universal Service taskforce to provide for knowledge transfer and training to the taskforce in order to make it self-supportive. The consultancy mission focused mainly on means of drafting RFP for Universal Service Project, taking into consideration regulatory and other conditions that need to be clarified or fulfilled before the tender procedure in order to provide a maximum of predictability and thereby reducing the ‘risk premium’ that bidders will tend to include, designing the designation process including safeguards against collusive practices and/or a shortfall of competitive bidding, back-office advice during the implementation including criteria and basis for re-evaluating the Universal Service operators at the end of the subsidy period, outlook on the future procedures involving the payment from the universal service fund to the successful bidder and compliance monitoring to the roll-out and service obligations.
The second mission took place from 24-26 July 2006. Mr. Robert Hall and Mr. James Bellis focused on Regulatory Accounting and Interconnection. They provided consultancy on description of future regulatory interventions for which accounting separation and the use of costing models are prerequisites, and which market players will consequently be subject to their application. They also provided draft guidelines for the implementation of regulatory accounting, using existing guidelines from other countries as a starting point and tailoring them for the situation in Egypt.
In completion of the Universal Service consultancy, the NTRA hosted a three-day workshop from 25-27 July 2006, where an expert from the National Regulatory Authority for Communications of Romania presented their Universal Service experience related to Universal Service implementation design, selecting the eligible areas for installing telecenters and public payphones, the public tender mechanism, the contracts between parties as well as compensation schemes.