By emeka aginam

A new report at the 11th edition of International Telecommunication Union’s , (ITU) flagship ICT regulatory report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform has revealed that effective ICT regulation is critical to all economic growth.

At the beginning of 2011, the report revealed , more than 80 per cent of markets worldwide have separate ICT regulatory agencies, making for a total of 158 ICT regulators worldwide – up from 106 just one decade ago.

Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2010-2011, the report said confirms that ICT markets around the world are becoming more competitive in just about every respect, from international gateway services to wireless local loop and 3G. In 2010, the report revealed that more than 93 per cent of countries worldwide allowed competition in the provision of Internet services, and 90 per cent in the provision of mobile cellular services.

Worldwide, mobile cellular subscriptions, the ITU report said now total over 5.3 billion, including 940 million subscriptions to mobile broadband services – a figure which is expected to reach one billion before mid-2011. The report confirms the huge potential for ICTs to make positive contributions to major social challenges. For example, like every other industry, ICTs contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. They are, however, also uniquely positioned to enable the reduction of emissions through ‘smart’ energy management systems.

But while the benefits of the Information Society are manifest, the broadband revolution, according to the report has raised new issues and challenges. Consumers of all ages are very much pioneers in the Information Society, reaping the benefits of their new world, but also exposing themselves to the risks if the right measures are not taken.

“Access to mobile networks is now available to 90% of the world’s population overall. Of people living in rural areas, 80% now have mobile cellular coverage.

“In terms of applications, at the end of 2010, Facebook alone counted 600 million active users, representing more than one third of Internet users worldwide. Micro-blogging site Twitter now has over 200 million registered users. Data also show that two billion videos are watched every day on YouTube, while five billion photos are now hosted on Flickr” the report added.

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