The importance of Regulatory Roadmaps in the current digital ecosystem

Today’s digital ecosystem – comprised of digital infrastructures, platforms, applications, and ultimately users – is transforming citizens’ lives and boosting every sector of the economy. However, in order to fully exploit its potential, the digital ecosystem must be accompanied by an enabling regulatory environment (see more details in one of our previous articles – Role of regulators in the digital ecosystem).

In order for a regulatory environment to succeed in the new digital era, the most fundamental initial step that regulators must take in their journey is to define an overarching master plan for a consistent and transparent implementation of regulatory actions over a certain time horizon. Such a master plan, a.k.a. Regulatory Roadmap/Agenda, must integrate a medium-term strategic perspective on the broad ICT/digital market with a view to providing a predictable playing field and helping reduce regulatory barriers and bottlenecks to innovation, economic development and investment. 

At Axon, we have extensive experience in supporting regulators across multiple regions in the elaboration of Regulatory Roadmaps in order to cope with the challenges that the new digital ecosystem brings.

The main lessons learned that should be taken into consideration when elaborating Regulatory Roadmaps can be summarised in the following Decalogue:

  1. Be consistent with the Regulator’s strategic planning, i.e. mission and vision
  2. Have a medium-term vision – it must cover a 4-5 year horizon
  3. Do not forget the current context of the market – this will be the starting point to reach the ‘desired’ vision
  4. Seek inputs and consensus with relevant stakeholders (telecom operators, digital players, governments, academia, society, etc.) – consultations, workshops or other forms of engagement are a must
  5. Take the right lessons from the international practice
  6. Be pragmatic – although it is a strategic document (and high-level in nature), specific regulatory initiatives and areas of work must be defined
  7. Define priorities – not all regulatory actions have the same importance and/or urgency
  8. Set measurable targets/metrics associated with the defined regulatory actions – progress must be tracked throughout the roadmap horizon
  9. Define responsibilities among relevant stakeholders – this is particularly important in the current digital ecosystem, as it comprises many regulatory and policy agents with different visions and interests
  10. Coordinate with the different areas/divisions of the Regulator for the actual implementation of the Regulatory Roadmap – planning is important, but implementation is the ultimate goal.

One of the most significant examples where the above Decalogue has been put into practice is the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), the Mexican Regulator. Earlier this year, the IFT published its Regulatory Roadmap for the 2021-2025 period (available here). This roadmap aims to facilitate the development of the digital ecosystem and contribute to the socioeconomic development of Mexico, covering aspects that range from incentivising the development, deployment and efficient use of ICT infrastructures and networks; fostering competition in the digital space; and promoting the adoption of emerging technologies and digital use cases among the society and the industry.

Axon Partners Group, in close cooperation with IFT’s Strategic Planning Unit, elaborated such Regulatory Roadmap and accompanied the IFT throughout the entire process, including participation in workshops with external stakeholders and the final approval of the document by the IFT’s Board.

With this Regulatory Roadmap in place, the IFT now has the necessary tools to become one of the most important international references at the forefront of digital regulation.

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