Connectivity across BRICS countries

How to cite
this document


1. What is the state of Internet access in the country, in terms of: a. number of subscribers across different categories; b. affordability of services; c. type of technology being used; d. gender gap; e. urban-rural gap?

Please cite as “Magalhães L. Connectivity Landscape in Brazil. In Belli L. and Magalhães L. (Eds). SmartBRICS: How Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa Are Shaping Their Digital Transformation into Smart Countries. (2023).

According to the Survey on the Use of Technologies of Information and Communication in Brazilian Households (, 2021) of the Regional Center for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (2020), in 2020, internet access reached 83%, representing around 61.8 million households with some type of connection.

The database on internet access in the country, referring to the year 2020, indicates that 69% of households have fixed broadband. However, the cost of the connection continues to be a barrier to home access, as 28% of residents consider the connection expensive, and 20% do not know how to use the internet. Furthermore, despite the recorded increase in access to the network, the concentration is in 50% of urban households and 100% of the richest classes.

Regarding the regional distribution of households of Internet users, access is greater than 80% in all regions. In the Southeast region the proportion of access is 82%, in the Northeast it is 80%, in the Midwest it is 87%.

Therefore, the use of ICTs in the Brazilian territory is quite heterogeneous, whose greatest disparities are between macro-regions and rural and urban areas. At the same time, the rapid urbanization of the population poses enormous challenges, especially with regard to network access infrastructure, regulations, resources and institutions in the context of climate change, the struggle for housing and a lack of basic public services[1]. This context impacts the use of networks and information technologies (ICT) and the ways of accessing services, types of technology, skills and use.

[1] The United Nations 2030 Agenda encourages countries to invest in inclusive and sustainable cities, reinforcing interventions by digital technologies.

A. Number of subscribers across different categories

​​According to data from the 2020 survey (, 2021), there was  diversification between the technologies used to access the network.

The proportion of households with fixed broadband increased to 695, making it the main type of connection. At the same time, there has been a reduction in mobile broadband between 209 and 2020 to 22%. Probable reflection of social distancing and isolation policies due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

In general terms, regarding the type of broadband connection technology in households, around 56% have a cable or fiber optic connection, DSL connections correspond to 5%, satellite 5% and radio 3%. This convergence scenario reflects that 91% of internet provider companies in the country offer fiber optics.

Despite the trend of access inequalities in Brazil, differences of access in households with broadband have reduced among households with lower income. Despite the observed growth of 70% for households with income between 4 minimum wages, and 52% for households with up to 2 minimum wages.

Considering the Brazilian regions, there was also a reduction in the difference in the proportions of home access to the network, mainly between the Northeast and Southeast. The proportion of households connected in the Northeast region is 79% and in the Southeast region is 86%.

B. Affordability of services

Regarding the characteristics of internet access in households, there is a high proportion of households with WiFi reaching 85%. Among mobile internet users, 75% used the mobile network (3G and 4G), 90% used Wi-Fi and 66% used both technologies. However, the relational pattern between areas and classes remains, with 70% of low-income households having WiFi, while 100% of high-income households use the technology. Comparing urban and rural areas, only 69% of rural areas have WiFi, while 87% of households in urban areas are covered.

The presence of WiFi is lower in households whose main connection is mobile. This finding is associated with the value of data packets. Approximately 51% of households pay more than R$80 reais for the connection. This value is also symbolic for the most vulnerable households in terms of income 68% and location, with 66% being in the rural area.

C. Type of technology being used

The type of device used to access the internet is related to economy class in the first place. It is also related to infrastructure in the territorial organization of the country.

The 2020 household survey indicates that 58% of users exclusively use their cell phones to access the network. Being that 40 million people and 38 million people are from class C and DE. This classification is related to the number of minimum flights, that is, family income, so class E corresponds to the range of up to 2 minimum flights, D corresponds to the range between 2 to 4 minimum flights, class C corresponds to the range between 4 to 10 minimum flights . At the same time, 41% of users use both cell phones and computers.

In addition to the devices used to access the Internet, approximately 97% of users access the Internet at home. Regarding access devices, there was a significant increase in the use of a television set to access the Internet, among approximately 44% of network users. This growth is linked to the pandemic period, when the level of access can be compared to access via computer, including desktop, notebook or tablet. Among other devices, approximately 30% of users access via notebook, 26% via desktop computer, and 8% access via tablet, while 10% of users use video games to connect to the internet.

D. Gender gap

According to the proportion of women Internet users, there has been a growth of 12% from 2019 to 2020, with 85% accessing the Internet, while 77% of users are men. However, other issues related to structuring and sociocultural factors impact on the way women access.

E. Urban-rural gap

Although the permanence of historically structured inequalities between rural and urban areas has been observed, between 2019 and 2020, the proportion of users increased from 53% to 70% in the rural area. While in urban areas the growth went from 77% to 83%.

Please cite hereafter as “Orlova, A.; Schcherbovich, A. Connectivity Landscape in Russia. In Belli L. and Magalhães L. (Eds). SmartBRICS: How Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa Are Shaping Their Digital Transformation into Smart Countries. (2023).

Russia represents a significant part of the global Internet, with advanced connectivity infrastructure and high penetration of access among its population, conditioning active online civil society. According to Statista, Russia is today (Kemp, 2020) the 8th country with the highest number of internet users, 116.4 million (Statista, 2022), which makes it the 8th country with the highest number of internet users among the largest countries of the world.

In 2016 Russia, along with other 3 BRICS countries, was among the largest in the world in terms of the size of their digital economy, with eGDP[1] share of 28% (Cheng, 2017). Of the 10 countries with the highest eGDP share four places were taken up by BRICS countries, putting the BRICS countries in the forefront of global digital competition. 

In 2018 it was 80.9%[2] of individuals were using the internet in Russia, according to the World Bank (2022). This number corresponds to the data of the Federal Service of State Statistics, in 2018 the share of individuals using the Internet in the population aged 15-72 stood at 81%. (Abdrakhmanova et al., 2020).

Fixed broadband

Fixed broadband is widespread and is rapidly expanding. In the 2016 State of Broadband report by ITU (International Telecommunications Union [ITU], 2016), Russia ranked 55th among 187 nations in the fixed broadband category, with 18.77 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The Federal Statistics service estimated that 66.8% of households had access to broadband at 256 kbps or more.

A. Number of subscribers across different categories

Internet penetration per age

According to the All-Russian omnibus of GfK, by the beginning of 2019 the audience of Internet users in Russia among the population 16+ made 90 million people (+3 million people by last year) and reached a point of 75.4% of the adult population of the country.

In 2018, according to the Omnibus GFK survey (Omnibus-GFK Rus, 2018) Internet penetration among young people (age 16-29 years old) is 99%, and middle-aged (age 30-54 years old) is 88% people is close to the limit values, and the growth of the Internet audience is happening mainly due to older people (55+ years old) that is 36%.

By frequency: Daily, weekly, monthly

According to NGO Public Opinion Foundation (2020) conducted between May 15 to May 17 2020 about Internet usage, 69% of russians say that they used Internet in the last day, 4% — in the last week, 1% — in the last month, 1% – in the last three months, 1% — in the last half a year, 2% — more than a year ago and 22% never used the Internet. The numbers of this research closely match data from 2018 Russian Federation official Internet access rate of 80% total (published by ITU-D).

By category: Residential, business, academic

Among the Internet users, the big majority use mobile Internet, while 60% have Internet at home. 27% use only the mobile Internet, and 21%, only at home (Tadviser, 2022).

In 2019, 44.3% of important infrastructure facilities declared having connectivity to broadband access to the Internet, according to statistics on the national project “Digital Economy” published by Rosstat.

Schools, universities, state agencies, territorial electoral commissions, medical and obstetrical centers, points of firefighters and police have support by the national program “Digital Economy”, which until 2021, has available 72 billion rubles to connect about 100 thousand facilities.

B. Affordability of services

The average monthly account on the subscriber (ARPU) is 359 RUB (5 USD), according to TMT consulting. In 2019 operators adjusted rates, considering increase in the VAT, from 18% to 20%, and also the regulatory requirements causing additional expenses – such, for example, as the Yarovaya Law, which added many requirements related to vigilance and counter-terrorism (Federal Law No. 374-FZ of July 6, 2016), requiring multimillion rublos of investments.

The cost of broadband Internet has been falling continuously in Russia. In March 2016, average monthly cost of fixed broadband subscription was 404 roubles (~$6.3) in Russia (Public Opinion Foundation, 2020), ranging from 624 to 359 ($9.8 to $5.6). Considering the monthly average salary of just over 32 thousand roubles (~$500) in January 2016, and the minimum wage of $109 set in July 2016, the cost of broadband largely meets the globally recognized affordability targets. Moreover, for residents of small villages and towns, the Russian government intends to provide subsidized subscription plans that cost only 70 US cents per month, for 10 mbit/s connection.

The cost of mobile broadband access in Russia

According to a 2019 study by analytical agency Content Review (2018), the cheapest unlimited mobile is Internet in Russia, in the rating of the cost of 1 Gb, Russia took 4th place, having improved its performance compared to 2018.


  • the average world cost of 1 gigabyte of mobile Internet was 195.5 rubles, in Russia – 37.9 rubles (269.3 and 55.5 rubles in December 2018, respectively)
  • the average world cost of a tariff with unlimited mobile Internet was 2791.8 (37.05 USD) rubles per month;
  • Russia took first place in the ranking of countries[3] with the cheapest unlimited Internet;
  • Russia entered the top five countries with the cheapest mobile Internet, moving to 4th place the following factors affect the cost of a gigabyte: an increase in mobile traffic packages with a simultaneous decrease in their cost, introduction of unlimited tariffs; volatility of national currencies; market competition; country size; 5G availability.
C. Type of technology being used

73 million of Russians with age of 16+ (61% of the total adult population) use the Internet on mobile devices – tablets or smartphones. 59% use the Internet on smartphones and 14% use the Internet on tablets. (Omnibus GFK survey 2018). And 32 million Russians (16+ years old) use the Internet only on mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) – this is 35% of all Internet users. However, growth of the audience in itself on the Internet is not the main news. As of January 15, 2019, within the last few years the growth of the Internet’s audience has been slowly and is generally due to the users of the senior generation connecting to the network. At the same time among youth and people of middle age penetration of the Internet is close to its limit.

D. Gender gap

In the period from July to September 2016, according to the Web Index Report, the monthly Internet audience included 85.6 million people, or 70% of Russians aged 12+. In line with global trends, younger age groups have been reached almost completely. For both male and female groups between 12-24, the percentage of Internet users ranges from 95% to 98%, and 92-93% for groups 25-34. The older groups have lower usage rates, declining to 18% for females 65+ and 29% for males 65+.

E. Urban-rural gap

With most of its population living in cities, Russia has the highest penetration of Internet among the CIS countries.Nevertheless high penetration rates in the urban areas, there are wide discrepancies in penetration among different regions and republics of the Russian Federation. In large cities of Russia, the penetration has almost exhausted its growth potential by 2015, with several million individuals still remaining unconnected in cities with less than 500 000 inhabitants and in rural areas (Yandex, 2016). 

There are notable differences between small town Russia (<100,000 residents) and big town Russia  (100,000+ residents), with the former having a monthly reach of 76%, and the latter only 63%. Within big town Russia, the largest cities Moscow and Saint-Petersburg stand out with higher percentages. Income group distribution also shows major differences, with 85% of self-reported income group “above average” using the Internet, as opposed to only 48% in the group “lower than average” (Digital Report, 2018).

[1] eGDP (Gross Domestic Product) is an indicator proposed by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that calculates digital/internet-related expenditure in private consumption, investment, government expenditure and net export.

[2] In % of population

[3] Corresponding tariffs are present in 26 out of 50 countries considered in the study.

Please cite hereafter as “Parsheera, S. Connectivity Landscape in India. In Belli L. and Magalhães L. (Eds). SmartBRICS: How Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa Are Shaping Their Digital Transformation into Smart Countries. (2023).

  1. Number of subscribers across different categories

India has the second largest Internet user base in the world. As per data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were 718.74 million Internet subscribers at the end of 2019 (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI], 2019b) and that figure had gone up to 836.86 million by June, 2022 (TRAI, 2022). These Internet subscription figures indicate the total number of subscriptions and not the actual number of unique and active Internet users in the country. A study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielsen (2019) placed this figure of active users to be in the range of about 504 million. This is about 70 per cent of the total subscriptions reported by TRAI around that period. It is also important to note that even though there has been a significant increase in the Internet subscription and usage figures in the last few years, India still sees a vast digital divide. This divide became all the more evident due to the inescapable push towards digital services during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a population of 1.35 billion, an active use base of 504 million implies that only about 37 percent of the population is actively using the Internet. This may be due to a number of supply and demand side factors. The supply side factors include affordability and availability of Internet access services and devices that can be used to connect to the Internet. On the other hand, the demand side variables include various economic, socio-cultural and demographic factors, such as income, gender, education, language, and age (Parsheera, 2019a).

The IAMAI-Nielsen study found that the highest proportion of Internet users are in the age group of 20-29 years followed by the next age bracket of 30-39 years. Notably, Internet use among the population over 50 years of age was much lower than all the other groups, which is indicative of old age being one of the barriers to Internet access.

Age-wise number of active Internet users

Age group

Number of users (millions)

Per cent

5-11 years



12-15 years



16-19 years



20-29 years



30- 39 years



40-49 years



50+ years






Source: IAMAI-Nielsen, Digital in India Report 2019  – Round 2

The level of access also varies across different regions of the country. For the purposes of administration of telecommunications services, the country has been divided into 22 telecom service areas. While the capital region of Delhi has a very high Internet density of 198 per cent (number of subscriptions for every hundred people in the population), there are other areas like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Assam where the Internet density is much lower, being in the range of 35 to 45 per cent (TRAI, 2022). Further details of the rural-urban variations in the subscriber density are discussed subsequently.

Moreover, variations in Internet access are also shaped by the socio-economic class of users. The IAMAI-Nielsen study used the New Consumer Classification System, which classifies households based on the level of education and ownership of various consumer durables, to assess the role of socio-economic factors in Internet access. They found that 57 per cent of the Internet users belonged to categories A and B of the classification, which signified that they were the wealthier households with higher education levels. This proportion was even higher in the urban areas where 71 percent of the users fell in these two segments. However, they also found that many of the new users who were coming online, particularly from small towns and rural areas belonged to the C, D and E classifications, which indicates a broad-basing of the user profile.

Finally, the data shows that even among those who have Internet access, there are differences in the nature and extent of use. While 77 per cent of urban users reported that they used the Internet everyday, this was only 61 per cent in case of rural consumers. In fact, 13 per cent of rural users noted that they used the Internet less than once a week. In terms of activities for which the Internet was being used, the highest number of users reported chatting and social networking followed by entertainment, online news and email.

  1. Affordability of services

India is known to have the lowest cost of wireless Internet access in the world. As per a comparative assessment of mobile data plans from across the globe, the average price of one gigabyte (GB) of mobile data in India was UD$ 0.09, while the global average rate was about US$ 5 (, 2020). The chart below shows the comparative mobile data price in India and the other BRICS countries.

Cost of mobile data in BRICS countries


Average price/ GB

(Local currency)

Average price/ GB

(US $)


BRL 5.64



RUB 38.33



INR 6.66



CNY 4.30


South Africa

ZAR 101.91


Source:, 2020

Affordability of Internet access is, however, shaped not only by the cost of the service but also the affordability of the device that is to be used for accessing the Internet. The GSMA’s Mobile gender gap report found that the highest percentage of the survey respondents from India reported handset cost to be one of the important barriers to mobile ownership and mobile internet use (GSMA, 2022).

As per a 2019 study, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of mobile phone sales volume in India between 2007 to 2018 was 6.66 per cent. During the same period the average selling price of phones decreased only by a CAGR of 0.11 per cent. The study also notes that despite the gradual increase in adoption of smartphones, the Indian market still remains dominated by feature phones, which constitute over 50 per cent of the sales volume (Kathuria et al., 2019).

One of the notable developments in this segment has been the launch of Reliance Jio’s smart feature phones in 2017, which supports 4G services on Jio’s wireless network. Reports indicate that over 100 million units of the JioPhone had been sold by 2020 (Prabhjot, 2020). Since then, Jio has launched an affordable smartphone in collaboration with Google and the two companies have announced their plans to launch a new 5G device. However, the proliferation of such offers by dominant Internet service providers could also lead to competition concerns in the medium to long term, in addition to privacy concerns arising from the possibility of data sharing between Jio and Google.

  1. Type of technology being used

As in many other parts of the developing world, the Internet access market in India is propelled mainly by wireless services. About 97 per cent of the Internet subscribers in India are connected to the Internet through wireless services (TRAI, 2022). Until around the middle of 2016, most wireless users were using low-speed narrowband Internet services. However, this has come to change in light of the large scale adoption of 4G services in the last few years. At present, 95 percent of the access market consists of users of broadband services. It may be noted here that Indian regulations currently define broadband to mean download speeds of over 512 Kbps, which happens to be a lower benchmark compared to many other countries.

The chart below depicts how the technology-wise Internet user base in India evolved during the period from 2014 to 2018, with many users moving directly from 2G to 4G services (TRAI, 2019c). Besides the number of subscribers, the technology-wise data usage trends also point to the importance of the 4G services, which now constitute 95 per cent of the wireless internet consumption in the country (TRAI, 2022). . This goes to show that along with the steady decline in the number of narrowband users their share in the country’s total data consumption has also been decreasing.


Technology-wise trend in number of wireless subscribers

Source: TRAI Wireless Data Service Report, 2019

In case of wireline Internet access services, the total number of subscribers has increased from about 20 million in 2015 to 28.7 million by the middle of 2022. While the overall trend in this sector is not comparable to the scale of growth in the wireless Internet segment, one of the notable developments that can be seen from the chart below is the significant rise in the number of fibre connections.


Technology trends in wired Internet access


Subscribers in millions

(Dec, 2015)

Subscribers in millions

(June 2022)

Direct subscriber line



Ethernet/ LAN









Cable modem



Leased line






Source: TRAI’s Performance Indicator Reports for the period ending in June 2022 and Dec 2015.

  1.      Gender gap

As per GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report, 2022, the South Asian region has a mobile gender gap of 41 per cent (GSMA, 2022). This implies that women in the region are 41 per cent less likely to use mobile Internet compared to men. In the context of India, the report notes that although the  penetration of mobile internet use among women has been increasing, and saw a significant spike during the first two years of the COVID pandemic, men’s mobile internet use has  increased at a greater pace. The study found that while 51 per cent of men used mobile Internet services, this figure was just 30 per cent for women, indicating a mobile gender gap of 41 per cent.


          Mobile Internet use and ownership in India


Male population %

Female population (%)

Gender gap (%)

Mobile owners




Internet users




                                    Source: GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report, 2022

Further, as shown in the chart above, there was also a gender gap of 14 percent in terms of mobile ownership (down from 20 per cent in 2020). The phone ownership status of men and women also varies by type of device, with 49 per cent of males but only 26 per cent of females owning a smartphone. The type of device has a bearing on whether and the extent to which one can engage with the Internet.

Researchers have noted that this mobile gender gap is driven by a mix of economic factors and normative barriers arising from social norms, customs, and perceived gender roles (Barboni et al., 2018). While the Internet gender gap in India still remains stark, it is encouraging to note that this gap has been narrowing over time — it has narrowed down from 68 per cent in 2017 to the current figure of 41 per cent.

E. Urban-rural gap

Approximately 65 per cent of India’s population lives in rural areas. However, at present, only about 40 percent of the total number of Internet subscribers in India come from rural areas. Further, the Internet density figures show that there are only 37.8 rural Internet subscribers per hundred people in rural areas, as compared to 103.2 in case of urban subscribers (TRAI, 2022). This shows that much of the adoption of Internet services has been concentrated in the urban areas. A comparison with the rural subscription figures a few years back, however, shows that there is a trend of increased adoption in rural areas although the pace of growth in the urban segment has undeniably been much higher. For instance, at the end of 2015, India had only 112.16 million rural subscribers as opposed to the current figure of 339.3 million.

There are also significant inter-regional differences in the rural and urban Internet density figures. For instance, the north-eastern state of Assam has an urban density of 115 per cent but a rural density of just 33 per cent. A similarly wide gap is also seen in other states including Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. On the other hand, there are smaller states and regions like Goa, Sikkim and Delhi that reflect a high rural as well as urban Internet density (TRAI, 2022).

Please cite hereafter as “Ikeng, L. Connectivity Landscape in China. In Belli L. and Magalhães L. (Eds). SmartBRICS: How Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa Are Shaping Their Digital Transformation into Smart Countries. (2023).

A. Number of subscribers across different categories

Until March 2020, Internet users in China had amounted to 904 million with an Internet access rate of 64.5%; 75.08 million new users added since June 2019, contributing to a 4.9% rise in the Internet access rate.[1] Comparedly, as per the the 47th China Statistical Report on Internet Development (also applying to some latest data in the following), the number of Internet users in China reached 989 million by December 2020, an increase of 85.4 million compared to March 2020, and the penetration rate reached 70.4%, an increase of 5.9 percentage points compared to March 2020 (Cyberspace Administration of China [CAC], 2021b).

Likewise, by March 2020, cellular network users had amounted to 847 million, 29.84 million more than in 2019. However, cell phone Internet users in China reached 986 million in December 2020, up 88.85 million from March 2020. Cell phones accounted for 99.7% of Internet users.

As of December 2020, the size of China’s non-Internet users was 416 million, a decrease of 80.73 million from March 2020. Regionally, China’s non-Internet users were still mainly in rural areas, and the proportion of non-Internet users in rural areas was 62.7%, which was 23.3 percentage points higher than the proportion of the national rural population. Comparedly, the number of non-Internet users in China was 496 million until March 2020, 40.2% of those were from urban areas and 59.8% were from rural areas; 51.6% of non-Internet users don’t use Internet due to the lack of knowledge of computers and the Internet, 19.5% lack input methods (Pin-Yin), 13.4% of them don’t have access to devices such as computers, 14.0% is due to age (too young or too old), 8.8% feel the usage is unnecessary or uninterested, 7.3% report they don’t have the time for it. The previous report on the same issue in 2019 stated that 44.6  of non-Internet users don’t use Internet due to the lack of knowledge on computers and Internet, 36.8% lacks input methods (Pin-Yin), 15.3% of them don’t have devices such as computers, 14.2% is due to age (too young or too old), 10.6% feel the usage is unnecessary or uninterested, 9.4 % report they don’t have the time for it, and 5.4% don’t have access to Internet locally. In comparison to the data published in 2019, most categories in the 2020 report don’t seem to change much except in 2019 there was a category of “not having access to Internet locally”, which seemingly was added to the category of lack of knowledge to computers and Internet in 2020.

B. Affordability of services

China is actively promoting Internet access with Policies on Facilitating Faster and More Affordable Internet Connection. The Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang, stated on May 28th 2020 that the average annual income in China is 30000 RMB (approximately 4200 USD), and 600 million live on an annual income of 12000 RMB (approximately 1686 USD).

C. Type of technology being used

Until December 2018, users of fiber to the home (FTTH/O) in China amounted to 368 million households, taking up 90.4% of broadband Internet connection users.

Until March 2020, 99.3% of network users in China accessed the Internet via cell phones, having a 0.7% growth in comparison to December 2018; 42.7% of network users accessed the Internet via desktop computers, dropping 48% in December 2018; 35% of network users accessed the Internet via laptop computers, a 0.8% decrease compared to December 2018; 29% of Internet users accessed the Internet via tablet computers, a slight regression of 0.8% compared to December 2018; 32% of network users accessed the Internet via TV, a one percent increase to that of December 2018.

D. Gender gap

As of December 2020, the ratio of male to female Internet users in China was 51.0:49.0, which was basically consistent with the ratio of male to female in the overall population. Until March 2020, 51.9% of the users are men while 48.1% are women, also until June 202, 52.7% of the users are men while 47.3% are women, quite similar to 52.4 % versus 47.6% ratio in December 2018.

E. Urban-rural gap

As of December 2020, the number of rural Internet users in China was 309 million, accounting for 31.3% of all Internet users, up 54.71 million from March 2020; the number of urban Internet users was 680 million, accounting for 68.7% of all Internet users, up 30.69 million from March 2020. The number of urban Internet users was 680 million, accounting for 68.7% of the total number of Internet users, an increase of 30.69 million compared with March 2020. Until March 2020, rural areas contributed 28.2% (255 million) of Internet users, while 71.8 % (649 million) are from urban areas, in comparison to June 2019 when rural areas contributed 26.3% (225 million) of Internet users, while 73.7% (630 million) from urban areas.

[1] The COVID19 pandemic did result in a 50% surge of Internet traffic in China, and over 60 % rise in Wuhan, according to the Information and Communication Development Department of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. However, it doesn’t seem to contribute to the expanding of Internet access, which has been maintaining a 2% to 4% growth each year.

Please cite hereafter as “Hadzic, S. Connectivity Landscape in South Africa. In Belli L. and Magalhães L. (Eds). SmartBRICS: How Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa Are Shaping Their Digital Transformation into Smart Countries. (2023).

This section is based on data from Research ICT Africa’s report ‘State of ICTs in South Africa’(Gillwald et al., 2018) and the policy brief ‘After Access 2022: Internet usage trends in South Africa ’(Research ICT Africa, 2022).

A. Number of subscribers across different categories

The share of South Africans using the Internet increased from 49% in 2018 to 76% in 2022. Education and income are the major determinants of mobile and Internet connectivity and use.The main barriers to Internet access are a lack of awareness and knowledge of how to use it. For those who are already online, the main barrier to using the Internet more is overwhelmingly the high cost of data.

The real gap is a poverty gap. The socially and economically marginalised are unable to harness the Internet to enhance their social and economic well-being. Despite mobile

broadband, the digital divide between the poor and the rich is significant in South Africa.

According to ITU data from 2017, 2.84% of the population uses fixed broadband, while there are 58.62% active mobile broadband subscriptions.

B. affordability of services

According to the UN Broadband Commission, affordability of data prices is defined as the price of 1 GB of data having to be less than 2% of disposable income (Alliance for Affordable Internet, 2018). In South Africa, due to the large inequalities and disparities in disposable income, some studies have shown that in 2016 in rural low income areas certain populations spent as much as 22% of their disposable income only to be able to make a few short phone calls and send some SMSes (Rey-Moreno et al., 2016).

The affordability divide between the low-income and high-income South Africans is creating barriers to connecting the low-income earners. RIA’s African mobile pricing or RAMP project tracks the cheapest baskets of 1GB of prepaid data in several African countries. In the last quarter of 2012 the cheapest pack of 1GB data in South Africa was was around 4.65 USD. (Research ICT Africa, n.d.)

C. Type of technology being used

During the After Access Survey (household and individual user survey, analyzing the demand side) in 2017, 62% of households reported one or more members having access to or using the Internet. However, most of this access (57%) takes place ‘using mobile devices’, with just over 10% of households reporting Internet access ‘at home’.

Mobile devices, such as USB dongles, portable hotspots and mobile phones are the primary tools that are used by those households that do access the Internet, while fibre is only used by 2% of the population.

One of the reasons why mobile wireless technology is dominant is the availability of data services that can be purchased incrementally at low cost, such as top-up on demand – instead of committing to a prescribed monthly fee.

Source: ‘State of ICTs in South Africa’, Research ICT Africa

D. Gender gap

While the GDP per capita figure masks extreme inequalities in South Africa, the country performs well in relation to gender equity. The gender gap in Internet use in South Africa was 12% in 2017. Since then until 2022, it has become almost neligible.

In contrast to other African countries, where all ICT indicators favour males, in South Africa females (85%) are more likely to own a mobile phone than men (83%). However, males are more likely to own a smartphone than females. This suggests that men are more likely to be able to afford more expensive phones and that most women are unable to buy smartphones due to income disparities. This, in turn, would imply that females are less likely to access the Internet.

E. Urban-rural gap

While the gender gap seems to be fading, disparities in access still exist between urban and rural populations. However over the period between 2018 and 2022, the  rural gap decreased from 22% to 10%.

2. What is the country’s ranking in the global ICT indices, such as ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI), WEF’s Network Readiness Index (NRI), A4AI’s Affordability Drivers Index, GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index (MCI)

A. Classification on the ITU ICT Development Index

After the release of the 2017 index (International Telecommunication Union [ITU], 2017), there were some recommendations for modifying the indicators to increase the accuracy of the assessment of the development of information and communication technologies in the countries.

However, the quality of the data for evaluation in 2018, with the recommended changes already, pointed out significant flaws in the set of indicators, so the index was not released. The most recent indicator (ITU, 2019) was also based on the original methodology, since the data obtained from the changes contained problems, even after the orientation workshops.

Therefore, the International Telecommunication Union maintained the indicators and published the 2019 index. Brazil is classified as a developing country.

B. The classification in the WEF Network Preparation Index

The Network Readiness Index 2022 (Dutta & Lanvin, 2022) assessed a total of 131 economies and the multifaceted impact of information and communication technologies on society and the development of countries. Considering the overall scores, there are no major differences between the top ranked countries. Brazil occupies the 44th place. ​​On the pillars, in technology the ranking is 43, people is 40, governance is 44, and impact is in position 61.

C. A4AI Accessibility Driver Index classification

The index assesses the political, regulatory and supply environment for internet access, with the aim of providing more accessible broadband. The index classifies countries according to the expansion capacity of the technology infrastructure deployed, the local political structure for equitable access and the adoption of broadband.

According to the 2022 ranking (Alliance for Affordable Internet [A4AI], 2022), Brazil occupies the 15th position, with a score of 72.89 for access, and 59,09 for infrastructure. However, Brazil dropped some positions in the ranking because of delays in the implementation of rules of law and permission on tower zoning.

D. The classification in the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index

The most recent connectivity index is from 2022. Brazil has a score of 62.51, there are more specific relevant scores: 99% have 3G coverage, mobile connection has 106% penetration, and mobile broadband connections have 102% penetration.. The infrastructure score is 74.8, with an emphasis on network coverage of 89.5, however, with a performance of 76,4. The affordability index is 59.4, the inequality is 10, handset price 62.3, taxation 73.6, and the mobile tariffs of 80. Regarding the consumer profile, readiness is 80, basic skills 67.6, mobile ownership 78.8, and gender equality 93.2. Finally, the content and service index are 87.3, with an emphasis on the low online security index of 57.5.

The connectivity index confirms the gaps in internet access in Brazil, accentuated by the low accessibility and quality of the infrastructure, mainly due to the high cost and lack of digital skills, and low investment in local exchange points.

A. Classification on the ITU ICT Development Index

In ITU’s ICT Development Index Russia’s IDI 2017 rank is 45, with the IDI 2017 value 7.07; (no ranks were issued in 2018 and 2019).

B. The classification in the WEF Network Preparation Index
In 2019 Russia’s NRI rank is 48 with a score of 54.98, with an upper-middle income. The group of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is headed by Russian Federation (48th). Its best performance relates to People (38th), especially the ICT usage and skills of firms and national authorities (35th in Businesses and 32nd in Governments). At the level of the subpillar, meanwhile, the country does even better when it comes to Inclusion (29th). However, the same pillar — Governance (56th) — also includes Russian Federation’s weakest dimension in the NRI: Regulation (91st). Other areas in need of improvement include Future Technologies (72nd) in the Technology (51st) pillar and Quality of Life (85th) in the Impact pillar (59th). The associated pillars, Technology and Governance, are also the two weakest dimensions of the CIS, which suggests that many countries in the region should pay more attention to promoting online safety and ICT regulation and to preparing themselves for disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.
C. A4AI Accessibility Driver Index classification

Russia has not been ranked in A4AI’s index.

D.  The classification in the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index

Russia’s score for the GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index for 2018 is 73.0 (the Difference 2014-2018 score is 6.9). The category with the highest rank was consumer readiness, earning 86.6 points (with basic skills scoring 84.0 and gender equality 88.2). The infrastructure in mobile connectivity, which included network coverage and performance among other criteria, was the weakest sector with a score of 64.6 The content and service sector has the score of 75.9.

Ranking in global ICT indexes




ITU’s ICT Development Index, 2017

134 of 176

The index consists of three sub components. India scores were as follows:

Access sub-index — 3.60

Use sub-index — 1.62

Skills sub-index — 4.73

The ITU has not published a revised version of the index since them although work is in this direction is reportedly in progress

Network Readiness Index, 2021

61 of 131

India received a score of 51.19 on the index. The index consists of four pillars, across which India received the following scores:

Technology — 48.8

Impact — 55

People — 50.9

Governance — 50.9

This index was previously released by the World Economic Forum. However, since 2019, this is being led by the Portulans Institute (PI).

A4AI’s Affordability Drivers Index, 2021

10 out of 72

India received a score of 72.32 out of 100 on this index. Its scores on the communications infrastructure and access sub-indexes were as follows:

Communications infrastructure — 60.8 (rank 12)

Access sub-index — 75.5 (rank 13)

Affordability index – 72.3 (rank 10)

GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index, 2022

94 of 170

India received a score of 61.3on the index, which consists of the following sub-components:

Infrastructure — 59

Affordability — 69

Consumer readiness — 47

Content and services — 74

In 2017, China’s IDI ranked 80th worldwide with the value of 5.60 (global average being 5,11), and is one of the fastest growing countries. (International Telecommunication Union [ITU], 2017) China ranked 59 in the WEF’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) with a value of 4.2 (Portulans Institute, 2022) while ranking 35 out of 61 countries in A4AI’s Affordability Drivers Index with the value of 52.25 out of 100 (Alliance for Affordable Internet [A4AI], 2021). China scored 74.3 in the GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index, scoring 73.9, 67.3, 76.3, 80.2 in infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content and services respectively (GSMA, n. d.).

The ICT Development Index (IDI) is a composite indicator launched by ITU in 2009 to assess and benchmark the developments in information and communication technology (ICT) across countries and over time. In the last edition from 2017, South Africa ranked 92nd globally (Research ICT Africa, n.d.), out of 176 assessed countries (data from 2017) with the IDI value 4.96.

Since then, ITU launched a process for revision of the indicators included in the IDI, and a new version of the IDI (ITU, 2020)  will be published soon.

WEFs Network Readiness Index (NRI) focuses on international competitiveness.

In the 2021 evaluation, South Africa was ranked 70th out of 130 countries (Portulans Institute, 2022) , with the overall score 48.88. Again, the score on ‘governance’ (which includes regulation) was relatively high – 61.25, however due to the low uptake (the score on ‘people’ and ‘impact’ was 46.42 and 42.25, respectively) the overall rank dropped significantly. The ‘technology’ score was 45.59.

A4AIs Affordability Drivers Index (The Affordability Report 2021) looks more at affordability, and out of 72 countries that were evaluated in 2021, South Africa was 27th. SA scored 68.51 on the access sub-index, 49.50 on the infrastructure sub-index, and 62.58 on the affordability driver index (where it climbed up one rank since the last evaluation).

GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index  (GSMA 2021) looks at mobile Internet uptake.

South Africa scored 64.5 in the 2021 evaluation of the index, scoring 65, 53.9, 74.0, 67.0 in infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content and services, respectively.

The infrastructure index calculation is based on network coverage (90.8), network performance (60.4), other enabling infrastructure (67.4) and spectrum (30.7). Obviously, the fact that South Africa has failed to release high demand spectrum contributes to the low overall infrastructure index. Favourable taxation (85.4) does not compensate for extremely high levels of income inequality (0.0) and high mobile tariffs, hence the affordability index is the weakest of all four components. The affordability index is additionally composed of handset price (47.9) and mobile tariffs (74.7). The consumer readiness index is calculated based on mobile ownership (75.5), basic skills (61.9) and gender equality (85.4). Content and services index calculation is based on local relevance (64.6), availability (63.6) and online security (78.5).

Essentially, in terms of these indices, South Africa generally ranks somewhere in the middle globally, but in the African context often significantly ahead of other African states.

3. Does the country have a strategy for the expansion of Internet access, such as a national broadband plan or similar?

The National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) updated the Structural Tactical Plan for Telecommunications Networks (PERT). The 2019-2020 Plan was designed with the objective of expanding access to broadband in Brazil, with adequate quality and prices, through the coordination of efforts and investments, between the public and private sectors, therefore it is a regulatory and formulation input of public policies that establish infrastructure goals for the implementation of networks essential to public services[1].

The Structural Plan for Telecommunications Networks (PERT) focuses on structural deficiencies in the transport and access networks that support the provision of broadband services. In addition to diagnosing the telecommunications infrastructure, the document focuses on deficiencies in the access and transport network that support broadband services[2]. With the diagnosis of broadband, the agency establishes priorities, guiding and coordinating the telecommunications sector. PERT is also linked to the 2015-2024 Strategic Plan, which seeks to promote consumer satisfaction, competence and sustainability in the sector, dissemination of data and information from the sector, emphasizing access, use, quality and performance of services as the main commitment. Among the tactical guidelines of the agency’s strategy, the following stand out: expansion of transport and access infrastructure; satisfaction, quality and price by improving consumer relations; stimulating sustainability and competition among service providers; promoting the efficient use of the spectrum and regulatory performance for a responsive model; institutional strengthening.

Among the programs of the agency’s strategic plan and the Union’s 2020-2023 Pluriannual Plan, the “Conecta Brasil” program aims to promote access by expanding broadband from 74.68% to 91.00% through regionalized targets[3]. Decree nº 9.612 of 201 established the promotion of access to telecommunications considering the economic conditions of services; such as expanding broadband access in underserved, rural or remote urban areas; and digital inclusion to guarantee access to technologies in areas  characterized by social inequalities.

Other specific measures are part of the 2025 Program, Communications for Development, Inclusion and Democracy –  under the responsibility of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC). The program’s goals are: to increase the average speed of fixed broadband, to increase the proportion of access to mobile broadband to 90%, to make mobile broadband available in all municipalities, and to expand the coverage with an optical transport network (backhaul)[4].

[1] PERT is part of Anatel’s Tactical Plan 2019-2024, established through ordinance 2,382 / 2019 (Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações [ANATEL], 2020b)

[2] Telecommunications networks are divided into: core, transport and access. The access network is the local network that connects the user to the operator’s network. The transport network (backhaul) is the intermediate section of the network, which connects this local network to the central network (backbone) of the provider, from which interconnection with other national and international providers takes place, enabling access to the internet.

[3] Information about Conecta Brasil and the Pluriannual Plan available at the Ministry of Communication’s official webiste (2021b).

[4] For more information about the 2025 Program, see the document released by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management (2020).

Russia’s strategy for Internet access expansion along with other technological development aspects is broadly outlined in the following set of documents and frameworks on Russia’s vision for the national broadband development and digital economy:

  1. National program “Russia Digital Economy Program” outlining Russia’s goals for 2025;
  2.  May 2018 Presidential Decree;
  3. State program of the Russian Federation “Information Society (2011-2020)”;
  4. the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Agenda 2025.

Also, until 2018 Russia had a national broadband plan that had very ambitious goals for mobile broadband coverage expansion. The aforementioned documents and agendas serve as a logical continuation of the previous national broadband plan.

There is a Decree of the President of the Russian Federation from May 7, 2018 on national goals and strategic objectives of the development of the Russian Federation for the period until 2024 (Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 204 of May 7, 2018). This law prescribes to the Government of the Russian Federation to ensure the accelerated introduction of digital technologies in the economy and social sphere among other national development goals of the Russian Federation for the period until 2024.

In accordance with this law the roadmap “The main activities of the Government of the Russian Federation for the period until 2024” (2018) was approved by the Government on September 27, 2018.  This is the key document of strategic planning of the Government of Russia until 2024.

In the section 2.1. on “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” of the aforementioned document, the Government of the Russian Federation is aimed to achieve the following goal and targets of the national project “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” in regards to the national broadband plan:

“creation of a stable and secure information and telecommunication infrastructure for high-speed transmission, processing and storage of large amounts of data, accessible to all organizations and households, including providing broadband access to the information and telecommunication network “Internet” of households and socially significant infrastructure objects, the creation of reference data centers in federal districts, an increase in the share of the Russian Federation in the global volume of provision of data storage and processing services”.it
Investment into a globally competitive secure infrastructure to support the growth of a data driven economy remains (The World Bank, 2018) a top priority, as emphasized in the May 2018 Presidential Decree.

In July 2017, Russia adopted the Russia Digital Economy Program with an expected annual budget of US$1.8 billion until 2025 (Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1632-r of July 28, 2017) to address the current weaknesses preventing the country from joining global digital economy leaders.

To manage the program, five basic directions for the development of the digital economy in Russia for the period until 2024 have been identified. The basic directions include normative regulation, personnel and education, the formation of research competencies and technical background, information infrastructure and information security.

The Digital Economy national programme adopted by Government Order 1632-p of July 28 2017 sets the provision of stable 5G mobile services in all major cities of Russia by 2024 as one of its major goals.

The Digital India mission is a flagship programme of the Indian government. It includes a number of initiatives which have been brought under nine key pillars that include the creation of broadband highways, securing mobile connectivity for all and the creation of public Internet access (Digital India, n. d.). One of the components of the broadband highways mission is the Bharat Net project for the creation of a national optical fibre network. The project aims to provide broadband connectivity to 250,000 village Panchayats, or village level local governance institutions. A government undertaking called Bharat Broadband Network Limited has been created to manage the roll out of the Bharat Net project. Once this infrastructure has been created, all service providers will be allowed non-discriminatory access to it to launch services in rural areas.

The implementation of the project has been much slower than anticipated. The project is now in its second phase and as of November 2022 only 188,243 of the 250,000 village Panchayats had been declared to be service ready (Bharat Broadband Network Limited, 2022). The reasons given by the government for the delay in the project include delays in commencement due to field surveys and pilot testing of the technology, right of way issues and delays being caused at the state government level in the latest phase of the project (Government of India, 2020).

The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) announced by the Department of Communications (DoT) in 2018 also recognises the provisioning of broadband access for all as one of its strategic objectives (Department of Telecommunications, 2018a). It articulates that the following mission is to be achieved by the year 2022 — To promote Broadband for All as a tool for socio-economic development, while ensuring service quality and environmental sustainability.

Some of the specific goals that have been laid down in the policy include universal broadband connectivity for all citizens at 50 Mbps, 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats, enabling 100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key development institutions, including all educational institutions, and deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots to reach 10 million people by 2022. In terms of institutional mechanisms, the NDCP speaks of the creation of a National Broadband Mission that will implement the rural connectivity and public Wi-Fi initiatives as well as a Fibre First Initiative to focus on fibre to the home development in Tier I, II and III towns and rural clusters.

In May 2020, Cyberspace Administration of China, National Development and Reform Commission, State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic China jointly issued the 2020 working plan of poverty alleviation through internet services. (Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), 2020) The working plan aims to improve internet and broadcasting infrastructure in rural and poor areas; through projects like Extending Radio and TV Broadcasting Coverage to Every Village Project (National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance & General Administration of Radio, Film and Television, n.d.) (村村通, the literal translation is connection between villages, the project isn’t limited to radio and TV broadcasting coverage) as well as nationwide trials of providing universal telecommunication service, rural areas and poor areas in China started to enjoy the convenience of Internet and information society. Until October 2019, fiber optic network and 4G network has over 98% coverage in administrative villages, while poor villages have a 99% broadband coverage. In 2013, China issued the “Broadband China” strategy and Implementation Plan, the plan has five main goals: to promote regional broadband development, to accelerate the optimization and upgrade of broadband networks, to improve the application of broadband networks, to promote the development of broadband industry chain, and improve the capacity of maintaining broadband network security. Take promoting regional broadband networks development as an example, the goal was divided into three different sectors, eastern, central and western, and rural farm areas. For the eastern part of China, the goal is to actively utilize optical fiber and new generation of mobile telecom technology as well as TV broadcasting technology to improve the performance of broadband networks, ultimately catching up with developed countries. Central and western areas focus on broadband networks infrastructures, improve the capacity of backbone networks and inter-network interconnection capabilities, and broadening the coverage of broadband networks. As for rural farm areas, the goal is to take broadband into the coverage of universal telecommunication services, and further enforce the Extending Radio and TV Broadcasting Coverage to Every Village Project mentioned above; different technologies such as fiber optic, copper wire, coaxial cable, 3G/LTE, microwave, satellite transmissions have been adopted to speed up the expansion of broadband networks in administrative areas and natural villages. (The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China, 2013)

Broadband expansion has been prioritized in the National Development Plan. Government adopted a national broadband policy in a document entitled ‘SA Connect: Creating Opportunities, Ensuring Inclusion’ (Electronic Communications Act, 2005).

The four central strategies adopted in the policy are

  1. Digital readiness
  2. Digital development
  3. Building the digital future
  4. Realising digital opportunity

The strategy is designed to provide universal accessibility across the country at a cost and quality that meets the needs of citizens, business and the public sector, as well as access to the creation and consumption of a wide range of converged applications and services required for effective economic and social participation.

The SA Connect document contains several targets expressed as ‘broadband access in Mbps user experience’. The targets also differentiate between targets for the population as a whole and targets for schools, health facilities and government facilities.

Essentially the targets are as follows:




Baseline (2013)

By 2016

By 2020

By 2030

Broadband access in Mbps

user experience

% of population

33.7% internet


50% at 5 Mbps

·  90% at 5 Mbps

·  50% at 100 Mbps

·  100% at 10 Mbps

·  80% at 100 Mbps


% of schools

25% connected

  50% at 10 Mbps

·  100% at 10 Mbps

·  80% at 100 Mbps

·  100% at 1 Gbps

Health Facilities

% of health


13% connected

 50% at 10 Mbps

·  100% at 10 Mbps

·  80% at 100 Mbps

·  100% at 1 Gbps

Government Facilities

% of government



50% at 5 Mbps

·  100% at 10 Mbps


·  100% at 100 Mbps


However the strategy failed to meet 2016 targets as well as 2020 targets.

Besides SA Connect, the other main policy initiative was the protracted National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper, which was finalized in 2016 and accepted by Cabinet and Parliament. It focuses on improving access to infrastructure, competition (particularly in the services market), and inclusion of all citizens in the digital economy. The white paper covers everything from revised institutional arrangements for the sector to universal access and service and cybersecurity. (National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper, 2016)

International Commitments

1. Is the country a member of the ITU?

The ITU is the United Nations System Agency dedicated to topics related to Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technologies. The entity supports the shared global use of the radio frequency spectrum, through the international cooperation of orbital satellites, the improvement of the telecommunications infrastructure, establishes standards for interconnection between various communication systems, and is committed to topics such as climate change, accessibility and strengthening security cybernetics. The agency operates in three sectors: standardization of telecommunications, radiocommunications and the development of telecommunications. Brazil has been a signatory of international technical cooperation projects with the ITU since August 1877. The headquarters of the Americas regional office is in Brasilia.

Yes, Russia, the Russian Empire at the time, joined the ITU (International Telegraph Union) in 1865 (1865/12/31), and since then, the Russian Federation has been a member of the ITU, which since 1934, is named International Telecommunication Union.

India has been a member of ITU since January 1, 1869 and has been a regular member of the ITU Council since 1952. It was last re-elected to the Council in 2018 for a 4-year term from 2019 to 2022 (Press Information Bureau, 2018a). At present, there are 20 ITU members from India, which includes government organisations, service providers, academic institutions and other entities. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is the nodal agency for coordinating with ITU from India.

In September 2018, ITU announced the establishment of an ITU South Asia Area Office and Technology Innovation Centre in New Delhi. Besides India, this office will serve eight other countries in the region, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (Press Information Bureau, 2018b).

China has been a member of ITU since 1920, and first sent a delegation to attend the Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU in Madrid where China signed the International Telecommunication Convention.[1]

[1] The full list of Member States of the ITU can be accessed in the ITU website (ITU, 2022b).

Yes. South Africa became a member of the ITU in 1881. In 1965 following the Montreux Plenipotentiary Conference South Africa was excluded from participating in meetings of the Organisation but continued to remain a member of the organisation. A follow-up decision taken at the 1989 Plenipotentiary Conference in Nice resolved that South Africa would continue to be excluded from all conferences, meetings and activities of the ITU until such time as apartheid policies were eliminated. This resolution was set aside by the Executive Council on 9 May 1994 and formally adopted during the 1994 Plenipotentiary Conference.

South Africa submitted instruments of accession to the constitution, convention and optional protocol of the ITU on 30 June 1994, thus permitting its full participation in the ITU with effect from the 1994 Plenipotentiary Conference held in Japan. At that conference and at the subsequent conferences in Minneapolis, in 1998 and Marrakech, in 2002, South Africa was nominated and elected to membership of the Council.  (PATU/ATU,  2004)

In 2018, South Africa was elected (South African Government, 2018) into the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Executive Council and Radio Regulations Board (RRB).

Before the establishment of the Department for Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) in 2019, the Department of Communications (DoC) was responsible for setting electronic communications policy, overseeing radio frequency spectrum and representing South Africa in international fora such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

2. Is the country a signatory of the 1988 or 2012 version of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs)?

Yes. The International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) are global treaties applied to establish the principles of supply and operation of international telecommunications, facilitating interconnection and interoperability through networks and services. In 1988, the World Conference on International Telecommunications updated the regulations; in 2012, the rules on international tariffs were prioritized.

Yes, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) signed the 1988 ITRs. Russia has signed the 2012 ITRs.

India is a signatory to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) of 1988. It, however, did not sign the 2012 version of the ITRs adopted at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai (Masnick, 2012).

China is a signatory of the 2012 version of the ITR.

Yes. South Africa signed (ITU, 2004) the 2012 version of the International Telecommunications Regulations.

3. Does the country have a policy of following ITU recommendations or/and technical standards?

The ITU has played a crucial role in Brazil since the privatization and modernization of telecommunications, following the Anatel, which is the regulatory body and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications. ITU and Brazil have cooperation projects aimed at the development of telecommunications, such as support and integration of indigenous communities, children and young people in the information society.

Article 69. on “International cooperation of the Russian Federation in the field of communications” of the Federal Law of 07.07.2003 No. 126-FZ (The law “On Communications”) defines the policy of working with ITU:

“The Communications Administration of the Russian Federation, within the limits of its authority, represents and protects the interests of the Russian Federation in the field of telecommunications and postal services, interacts with communications administrations of foreign states, intergovernmental and international non-governmental communications organizations, and also coordinates the issues of international cooperation in the field of communications carried out by the Russian Federation, by citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian organizations, ensures the fulfilment of obligations of the Russian Federation arising from international treaties of the Russian Federation in the field of communications.”

“Telecommunications Administration” (administration) is the government agency or service responsible for fulfilling obligations under the Charter of the International Telecommunication Union, the Convention of the International Telecommunication Union and the Radio Regulations. In Russian Federation, the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media (until 2018 the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation (Minsvyaz) acts as a Telecommunications administration.

The Unified License agreement through which the Government of India authorises a telecom operator to carry out telecommunications services in the country contains certain references to the ITU’s standards. It requires that the licensee can only use such equipment or products that meet the standards specified by the DoT’s Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC). Where no such mandatory standards have been laid down by TEC, the licensee can only use those equipment and products that meet the relevant standards set by recognised International standardization bodies, including the ITU (Department of Telecommunications, 2016b).

The TEC’s standardisation guide sets out the process for ratifying/ adopting national standards in India based on the standards developed by the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) or international standards transposed by them. The TSDSI is an autonomous, multi-stakeholder body that is recognised by the DoT as India’s National Telecom Standards Development Organisation (Department of Telecommunications, 2018c). It carries out standards development for telecom and information communication technology (ICT) products and services in India (Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India [TSDSI], 2022b). The examples of international standards listed in the guide include those published by bodies such as the Organisation for International Standardisation (ISO), International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) and the ITU.

As per a presentation made by the Executive Director of TSDSI in 2016, some examples of ITU standards based products in India include the telephony signaling protocols, Signaling System No. 7, the integrated services digital network (ISDN), Gigabit-capable passive optical networks (GPON) and Intelligent Networks (Chauhan, 2016).

Yes, most of China’s telecommunications related legislation and regulations is in accordance with ITU standards, for example the Measures for the Management of Filing, Coordination, Registration and Maintenance of Satellite Networks Article 1 states: In order to strengthen and standardize the declaration, coordination, registration and maintenance of satellite networks, these Measures are formulated in accordance with the “Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Radio Management” and the regulations of the International Telecommunication Union (hereinafter referred to as ITU) (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2017b). The Technical Requirements for the Average Loudness and True-Peak Audio Level of Digital Television Programmes of China also follows ITU Recommendation BS.1864-0 (03/2010). (The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio and Television, 2014)

South Africa supports various ITU initiatives (Cwele, 2018);

  • Since 2015, South Africa has been serving as an active member of the UN Broadband Council for Sustainable development under the leadership of ITU and UNESCO Secretary Generals.
  • South Africa has been actively participating in various ITU committees and regional meetings.
  • In 2018, the ITU Telecoms World Conference was hosted in Durban, South Africa.
  • As a legacy of this conference and with the support of ITU and other international organisations, the African Digital Transformation Centre was launched in the capital city of Pretoria. This Centre’s objective is to incubate enterprise talent, harness innovation and prepare the African continent to take full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It will assist African Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) with conformance testing, standardisation and protection of their intellectual property. It will contribute to the development and utilisation of African-produced ICT solutions designed to meet local needs.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s  mandate (ICASA,  n.d.) is to regulate the telecommunications, broadcast and postal services in the public interest and ensure affordable services of a high quality for all South Africans.

In regulating the industry ICASA aligns its actions, policies and regulations with frameworks set by international and regional bodies to which it is affiliated, including the ITU.

Although overall high-level spectrum policy and international country interaction with the ITU are clearly under the Ministry’s domain, regulatory practice in many jurisdictions with independent sector regulators (or spectrum agencies) leaves spectrum management and band planning within the ambit of such a specialised agency, along with regulation, assignment, licensing, charging, monitoring and enforcement in relation to spectrum.

4. What is the composition of the country’s delegations at ITU meetings, including official reunions and study groups (e.g. government only, or multistakeholder including private sector, academia and civil society representatives)?

The Brazilian composition is multi-sectorial and made up of governmental bodies and entities, private entities and the academic sector. The National Telecommunications Agency is the administrative and regulatory body and is supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications. The delegation of associated consultants is represented by Advisia OC&C, and telecommunications operator Claro SA, as a SIO, Idea Eletronic System, Multiedgers, and SBA Communication.. The academic sector is represented by the CPqD Foundation – Center for Research and Development in Telecommunications and the Federal University of Pará, in addition to the Regional Office of the ITU in Brasília.

The composition of Russia’s official delegations at ITU meetings consists of: government, private sector (namely state (co)-owned companies) and academia (state universities).

Only one delegation representing the Administration of Communications of the Russian Federation may be sent to an international ITU event.

The composition of Russia’s delegations at ITU’s meetings, in particular to the Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU, world and regional conferences and assemblies, is defined by the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (Order of the Ministry of the Information Technologies and Communications of the Russian Federation No. 47 of December 29, 2004). The Russian Federal Communications Agency (Rossvyaz) is responsible for the formation of the delegation in cases where an international procedure for coordinating the use of radio-frequency assignments, including orbital-frequency positions for spacecraft, is carried out.

As the technical wing of DoT, the TEC represents it in international bodies like the ITU (Telecom Engineering Centre, 2017). In addition, it is also possible for individuals from other organisations like the TSDSI, industry and academia to be a part of the delegation (Biswas, 2017). For instance, the TSDSI provides an online form through which one can solicit information for participating in ITU-T’s study groups 13, 5, 17 and 20 (TSDSI, 2022a).

Further, the DoT has also constituted National Working Groups on ITU’s study groups to contribute to the ITU’s activities keeping in view the interests of India’s telecommunications sector (Telecom Engineering Centre, 2017). The role of these working groups is to build consensus and harmonise the interests of various stakeholders and proactively make contributions to ITU’s relevant study group meetings (Telecom Engineering Centre, 2022).

The delegation of China at ITU meetings is composed of Bureau of Radio Regulation of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (the State Radio Office), the State Radio Monitoring Center, the State Radio Spectrum Management Center, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, National Radio and Television Administration, Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation of Macau, Office of the Communications Authority of Hong Kong, related telecom corporations, satellite operators and manufacturers (Industrial Culture Development Center of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2019).

The composition of South Africa’s official delegations at ITU meetings (ITU 2022) consists of: government, private sector (both state (co)-owned companies and fully private) and academia (state universities).

The administrative body is the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, with the support of Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies.

The private sector is represented by three major operators (Telkom, Vodacom and MTN), Sentech (signal distributor for the South African broadcasting sector), and engineering companies GEW Technologies and Orbicom.

The academic sector is represented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

5. Is the country a member of the WTO? If so, is the country a signatory of the general agreement on trade in services?

In 2016, Brazil implemented its commitment to the WTO through the acceptance of the protocol on financial services. The country has acceded to the Fifth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the WTO (GATS) (World Trade Organisation, 2016).

The Russian Federation has been a member of WTO since 22 August 2012. As part of WTO accession, Russia signed the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) that provides a legal framework for addressing barriers affecting trade in professional services.

Yes, India has been a member of the WTO since 1 January 1995. It has also been a signatory to the General Agreement on Trade in Services since its entry into force in 1995. India has listed specific requirements relating to the telecommunications sector in its Schedule of Specific Commitments. The requirements relating to this sector have been indicated in the original Schedule of Specific Commitments dated 15 April 1994 and were later updated on 11 April 1997 (GATS/SC/42, 1994; GATS/SC/42/Suppl.3, 1997).

China is a member of the WTO but is not a contracting party of GATT 1994 (World Trade Organization [WTO], 2022). China joined the WTO on 11 December 2001 after years of preparation and debates over the jurisdiction of GATT.[1] The WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) sets binding rules on barriers to trade in services related to market access and national treatment, but does not regulate members’ domestic regulatory practices in trade in services. On December 2, 2021, 67 WTO members, including China, the European Union and the United States, held a meeting at the level of heads of delegations of each participating party to the WTO on the joint declaration initiative on domestic regulation of trade in services, and jointly issued the Declaration on the Completion of Negotiations on Domestic Regulation of Trade in Services. The rules related to domestic regulation of trade in services aim to optimize the process of approval of licenses related to trade in services, enhance the transparency and convenience of government regulation, reduce business operating costs, and improve the global business environment for trade in services (China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, 2022).


Yes. South Africa was a member of the GATT and participated in the Uruguay Round of negotiations. The country ratified the Marrakesh Agreement in December 1994 and thus became a founding member of the WTO when the Organisation was established.

6. is the country a signatory of any regional framework for regulation of telecommunications or member of any regional organization for telecommunications regulation?

Anatel has the competence to represent Brazil in international telecommunications organizations, such as: União Internacional de Telecomunicações (ITU), a specialized UN agency; the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (Citel), an organization of the Organization of American States; the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO); and the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO); Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers on the Internet (Icann), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Latin American Forum of Regulatory Entities (Regulatel) and the Association of Communications and Telecommunications Regulators of CPLP (Arctel-CPLP), as well and for the Communications Administrations of the States Parties to the Southern Common Market – MERCOSUR (ANATEL, 2022c).

A. Russian Federation is a participant and a full member of the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC / CIS)

RCC[1] is an international organization with the functions of the CIS interstate coordinating body in the field of electric and postal communications, and also has observer status in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and also interacts with international and regional organizations, actively participates in conferences and forums.

Permanent executive body of RCC is the executive committee whose location is Moscow, Russia. Operating parts of RCC are the commissions, councils of operators of telecommunication and a mail service, the working groups whose activity is directed to development and implementation of specific objectives of the commonwealth.

The RCC consists of 20 participants – 12 full members and 8 observers. Participants of RCC and at the same time full members of RCC are the following countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Republic of Uzbekistan, Ukraine and also observers Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia and International organization of space communication Intersputnik. In the Russian Federation the administration of communications’ functions is assigned to the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media (2022).

B. European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT).

In 1994 Russian Federation became a member of CEPT[2] – the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrators.

C. The Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications (Intersputnik, Organization).

At present, the governments of the following twenty six countries are members of the Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications (Intersputnik, 2022a): Republic of Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Bulgaria, Hungary, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Federal Republic of Germany, Georgia, Republic of India, Republic of Yemen, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Cuba, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Republic of Nicaragua, Republic of Poland, Russian Federation, Romania, Syrian Arab Republic, Federal Republic of Somalia, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Czech Republic.

To date, the government of Russian Federation has appointed the following Intersputnik Signatory: The Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Russian Satellite Communications Company” ( A Signatory is a telecommunications entity appointed by an Intersputnik Member, for which the Intersputnik Operating Agreement entered (Intersputnik, 2022b) into force.

D. International satellite communications organization INTELSAT (MOSS INTELSAT).

The Russian Federation is a member of the international satellite communications organization INTELSAT, the main goal of which is to continue and implement, in accordance with the intended direction, the design, development, creation, launch into orbit, operation and maintenance of the space component of the global system of commercial communications satellites, created in accordance with the provisions of the Interim Agreement and the Special agreements. The responsible ministry is the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation[3].

E. European satellite communications organization “EUTELSAT” (EOSS “EUTELSAT”).

The main purpose of EUTELSAT shall be the design, development, construction, establishment, operation and maintenance of the space segment of the European telecommunications satellite system or systems. In this context, EUTELSAT shall have as its prime objective the provision of the space segment required for international public telecommunications services in Europe[4].

Eutelsat owns two subsidiaries in Russia, including home internet provider Konnect. In turn, the Russian state satellite operator owns a small stake in Eutelsat itself. (Corporate documents say most of the 3.62 percent ownership stake corresponds to the Russian Satellite Communications Company, or RSCC) (Ling, 2022).

[1] Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications <>. Retrieved May 12, 2022.

[2] European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) <>. Retrieved  May 12, 2022.

[3] The Agreement on the International Organization of Satellite Communications INTELSAT was signed at Washington, on August 20, 1971.

[4] The Convention establishing the European Telecommunications Satellite Organization “EUTELSAT”, including its Preamble and its Annexes, was opened for signature by Governments at Paris on 15 July 1982

The DoT is a member of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), which was founded jointly by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the ITU. The APT has a strength of 38 Members, 4 Associate Members and 137 Affiliate Members (Asia-Pacific Telecommunity, 2022). Its activities include assisting members in the preparation of global conferences and promoting regional harmonization of programmes and activities in the region. In 1997, the APT and ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific came together to create the South Asian Telecommunication Regulators’ Council involving 9 South Asian countries (Mahmood, 2017). In case of India, the SATRC Membership is held by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Since joining the APEC in 1991, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter People’s Republic of China) have been actively participating in APEC Telecommunications and Information working group (Department of International Cooperation, 2022). China is also signatory country of the APEC-TEL Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), which, is a multilateral arrangement between economies in the APEC region, as well as The MRA for Equivalence of Technical Requirements, which was endorsed by the APEC Telecommunications Ministers. (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 2021) China is also a member state of the International Mobile Satellite Organization (2022). International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2023), International Maritime Satellite Organization (with Beijing Maritime Communication & Navigation Co.-MCN representing China), and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China, 2013a).

South Africa is represented in international fora such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), African Telecom Union (ATU), and the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA).

Pan-Africa Telecommunications Union (PATU) / (ATU) was established as a specialised agency of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 7 December 1977 in order to harmonize and co-ordinate the development of telecommunications networks and services in Africa.

At the 4th Extraordinary Session of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of PATU on 7 December 1999, in Cape Town, the African Telecommunications Union (ATU, 2022) was established as successor to the PATU. South Africa signed the Constitution and Convention of the ATU at that time (PATU/ ATU, 2004).

ICASA, the South African regulator, represents South Africa at CRASA (CRASA. n.d), the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa. CRASA has thirteen active members, namely regulators from the following SADC (Southern African Development Community, n.d.) countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Based in Gaborone, Botswana, CRASA’s focus is to harmonize the Information Communications and Technologies (ICT) regulatory environment in the SADC region in order to improve ICT business environment and investment climate in SADC countries. (Southern African Development Community (SADC), n.d.)

The country is also a member of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO); and the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO)


1. Does the country have a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority? If so, is it an independent body and what are its attributions?

The National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) is responsible for the policy implementation of telecommunications services, inspection, regulation and performance of activities related to service providers.

The regulatory agency was created in 1997 as part of a process of privatization of Brazilian telecommunications, and responds to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and the Ministry of Telecommunications. With the General Telecommunications Law, the agency became an entity that is part of the indirect Federal Public Administration, subject to a special autarchic regime that performs functions of public interest, autonomous and specialized.

The authority of the National Telecommunications Agency involves: concession and licensing the service offer; supervision and control of the spectrum and orbital slots; issuing guidelines to regulate the provision of telecommunications services, interconnection and sharing of infrastructure; integrated maintenance of network compatibility and operations; supervision and control over consumer rights; homologation of equipment to ensure electronic compatibility; quality and safety requirements for services, and supervision of network neutrality rules.

In a recent Provisional Measure no 980, 2020, the President of the Republic created the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations and the Ministry of Communications. National telecommunications policy, national broadcasting policy, became the Ministry of Communications’ duties until December 2021.

The telecoms sector is regulated by:

  1. the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media[1], which is vested with the authority to create a general development strategy for the telecoms, information distribution and technology industries and to issue subordinate regulations in pursuance of the main regulatory framework set by federal laws;
  2. the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Connection, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor), which is a federal agency under the ministry and oversees compliance in these spheres.

As the main regulator in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector in Russia, the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media is responsible for establishing and enforcing state policy in the sphere of electronic and postal communications, for promulgating the development and introduction of new information and communication technologies, and for coordinating the work of other state agencies in this area. Legislative oversight is exercised mainly through the State Duma Committee for mass media. The Committee develops mass media-related draft laws, and provides expert analysis of laws submitted by other Duma committees regarding their compliance with current media law.

Broadly, Mincomsvyaz is in charge of elaborating and implementing state policy in the TMT sector. It also, inter alia, participates in the legislative process (namely, by submitting bills to the government) and adopts secondary legislation in the area.

[1] Until 2018 the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation (Minsvyaz or Mincomsvyaz).

TRAI, which was constituted under the TRAI Act (1997) is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of telecommunication services in India. This refers to any service that involves the transmission of signs, signals, writing, etc. by wire, radio, visual or other electromagnetic means (TRAI Act, 1997, Section 2(k)). TRAI has been vested with recommendatory and regulatory functions. Its regulatory functions include monitoring compliance with the terms of telecom licenses, interconnection between service providers, monitoring quality of services and ensuring compliance with universal service obligations (TRAI Act, 1997, Section 11(a)). It has also been given the powers to notify the rates at which telecommunication services can be provided. However, at present, the Authority follows a tariff forbearance policy in most all segments of the market. This means the prices are left to be decided by market forces. Besides these regulatory functions, TRAI has also has a statutory responsibility to make recommendations to the government on various aspects like licensing terms, introduction of new players in the market, facilitating competition, technological improvements, and efficient spectrum management (TRAI Act, 1997, Section 11(a)).

Following an amendment to the TRAI Act in 2000 and a subsequent notification issued by the government, broadcasting services were also included within TRAI’s regulatory ambit. The same amendment also created an appellate tribunal called the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). The TDSAT has the authority to adjudicate disputes between the government, as the licensor of telecom services, and service providers as well as among service providers themselves.

The Indian government recently put out a new draft Indian Telecommunication Bill (2022) for public comments that proposes certain amendments to the powers of the TRAI.  Specifically, the draft bill seeks to remove the requirement under the current TRAI Act requiring the government to seek the recommendations of the TRAI before issuing a new telecommunications license (Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, Section 46).

While TRAI is organised as an autonomous statutory body, it cannot be regarded as being completely independent of the government in terms of its constitution and funding structure. TRAI consists of a Chairperson, up to two full-time members and up to two part-time members, all of whom are appointed by the Central Government (TRAI Act, 1997, Section 3). Further, the funds required for TRAI’s functioning also come from the Central Government, from out of the Consolidated Fund of India (TRAI Act, 1997, Section 21). This refers to an account which consists of all revenues and receipts earned by the Government. Any expenditure made by the government from this fund requires authorisation from the Parliament (Office of Chief Controller of Accounts, n. d.). As per Section 25 of the TRAI Act, the government has the power to issue directions to TRAI on matters of policy. A similar provision is seen in the legislations applicable to most statutory regulators in India.

The head office of TRAI is located in New Delhi, in addition to which it has five regional offices in the cities of Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Bhopal and Jaipur. The administrative functioning of TRAI at the head office level is divided into various divisions like financial and economic analysis, consumer affairs and quality of service, networks, spectrum and licensing, technological development, and legal.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is the primary telecommunication regulatory authority in China,[1] subordinate to the Ministry are, among others, the Info-communication Management Bureau, in charge of supervising telecommunications and Internet services, which also controls the entry to telecommunications and Internet services market (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2015b); the Communications Development which coordinates the development of public and special-use communication networks and the Internet, drafts network-technology development policies, and drafts rules and oversees telecom service fees (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2008b); Cybersecurity Bureau of which is responsible for organizing the security plans, policy and standards, of telecommunication and Internet, it also is in charge of the establishment and usage management of telecommunications, Internet and information security technology platform, and to monitor, notice and respond to emergencies in telecommunications and Internet (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2008a); Radio Regulatory Bureau (State Radio Office) which divides, distributes, and assigns radio frequencies, oversees radio station operations, coordinates and manages civilian satellite positioning, coordinates with the military on radio management issues, and manages issues related to foreign radio (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2021). The Ministry is not an independent body, rather, it is subordinate to the State Council.

[1] Regulation on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China Article 3 paragraph 1: The competent department of information industry of the State Council is responsible for the nation-wide supervision and administration of telecommunications in accordance with this Regulation (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016)

The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is a product of statute, the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa Amendment Act of 2000, amended in 2005. The ICASA Act, Act 13 of 2000, establishes the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). ICASA exercises the regulatory powers and functions provided for in the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) (Act 36 of 2005), the Broadcasting Act (Act 4 of 1999), and the Postal Services Act (Act 124 of 1998).

ICASA was established in July 2000, as a merger of the telecommunications regulator, the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

The ICASA Amendment Act 2005 also provided for the incorporation of the Postal Regulator into ICASA. The Amendment Act of 2005 also increased ICASA’s council complement from seven to nine councillors.

ICASA’s mandate is to

  • grant licences to electronic communications operators and service providers;
  • monitor licensee compliance with licence terms and conditions;
  • develop regulations;
  • plan and manage the radio frequency spectrum;
  • protect consumers.

2. What is the allocation of regulatory responsibilities between the appropriate government department(s) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority?

Anatel was the first regulatory agency in Brazil, created in 1997, by the General Telecommunications Law n° 9.472. The agency is an entity that integrates the indirect Federal Public Administration and is subject to an autonomous regime, linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication. Administration and budget are independent and autonomous.

The agency must adopt measures to serve the public interest and develop telecommunications, with independence, impartiality, legality, impersonality and publicity. In the list of attributes, the following stand out: implementing the national telecommunications policy; representing the country in international telecommunications organizations; radio spectrum management, use of orbits and respective standards; product certification; managing conflicts of interest between telecommunications service providers; exercising  the legal powers to control, prevent and suppress infractions of the economic order, with the reservations of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade); and protect users’ rights.

The provision of telecommunications services requires a series of regulatory activities by Anatel, such as specific licenses. Anatel is responsible for defining the type of service according to the purpose for users, and establishes the requirements for obtaining each license, varying by type of service. The main services covered by the regulations are: fixed telephony, mobile telephony, multimedia communication service and pay television.

There are exceptions for small broadband servers that are exempt from licensing by Anatel. Pay-TV is under the authority of Anatel, but broadcasting over the air is not up to the agency. The broadcasting sector is under the competence of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication. With regard to television, there are two separate legislative frameworks for broadcasting outdoors. The film and audiovisual industries are also subject to regulation by the National Film Agency (ANCINE).

The State Commission for Radio Frequencies (2022) (SCRF/GKRCh) and the Federal Radio Frequency Service, which are part of the Ministry for Digital Development, Connection and Mass Communications, are responsible for:

  1. spectrum allocation;
  2. the supervision of radio electronic equipment and radio frequency devices; and
  3. compliance control regarding the allocated spectrum and the collection of frequency-use fees, respectively.

Furthermore, three state agencies that fall under the auspices of Mincomsvyaz:

  1. the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) is the main licensing authority of all types of broadcasting and telecom service in the telecommunication sector and is in charge of mass media registrations; it is in charge of the supervision of personal data protection and information distribution issues. The RKN also maintains and operates the state register of web resources blocked in Russia.  It also monitors the compliance of telecom operators with the established regulatory requirements.
  2. the Federal Print and Mass Media Agency (Rospechat) and
  3. the Federal Agency of Communications (Rossvyaz), which is in charge of certification in the telecom area.

Telecommunications services in India are regulated jointly by the DoT in the Ministry of Communications and TRAI. In addition, TRAI also regulates the broadcasting sector, which is included in the definition of telecommunications service, jointly with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

TRAI’s key functions were discussed in the previous response. The DoT is responsible for the granting and administration of telecom licenses, spectrum management policies, and overall enforcement of laws applicable to this sector. As per the government’s allocation of business rules, some of its specific responsibilities include all policy, licensing and coordination matters relating to telecommunications; promotion of standardisation, research and development, and investments; and international cooperation in related matters (Government of India, 1961). The Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing (WPC) in the DoT is responsible for management of spectrum and licensing activities.

The Digital Communications Commission (previously referred to as the Telecom Commission) that was created through a government order in 1989 is also an important non-statutory body in this sphere (Resolution of the Cabinet Secretariat No. 15/1/2/87 of April 11, 1989). It is responsible for formulating and implementing policies for the DoT, which are then approved by the government. The Commission is headed by the Secretary of DoT and has a set of full-time members along with several part-time members. These part-time members belong to other government departments like the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (Department of Telecommunications, 2022).

See answer of previous question.

Roles for the sector are divided between the government (the Ministry), which is responsible for policy formulation, and the national regulatory agency ICASA.

In 2014 the Department of Communications split into two departments: Department of Communications (DoC) which was responsible for broadcasting services and new media, and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) which dealt with the ICT sector, Internet access policies, and infrastructure. In this rearrangement of the institutions, responsibility for the regulator was assigned to the DoC, and the DTPS was left with no direct line to the regulator, which is essentially the implementer of its policy. During that time, ICASA was reporting to the Minister of Communications, but the Minister of the DTPS was responsible for the key sectors over which ICASA is expected to preside (telecommunications, post and the Internet). A lot of time was spent trying to unravel the legislation. Eventually in 2019 the two departments merged again to operate as one central ministry leading the country’s ICT agenda, under the name of Department of Communications and digital technologies.

ICASA is a Chapter 9 institution (an institution which supports democracy) in terms of the South African Constitution and is a portfolio organisation of the Department of Communications (DoC).

Besides ICASA, other entities that report to this ministry are:

  • ZADNA, domain name authority – the statutory regulator and manager of .za country code top-level domain
  • FPB – Film and Production Board
  • USAAFA, Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) and the Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF)
  • Broadband Infraco, a wholesale provider of backhaul connectivity
  • National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA)
  • Sentech, the signal distributor for the South African broadcasting sector
  • South African Broadcasting Corporation SOC Limited (SABC)
  • South African Post Office (SAPO)
  • State Information Technology Agency (SITA)
  • Telkom.

The ICT Policy White Paper (or specifically the resulting ICT Sector Commission and Tribunal Bill) proposes to merge ICASA, zaDNA and FPB into one single regulator. The new economic regulator will be answerable to the department, while retaining independent regulation of broadcasting and content. The new regulator would essentially resemble ICASA, and it would additionally assume many of the functions of other bodies.

3. If the country follows a federal structure, is there an allocation of responsibilities relating to the telecommunications sector between the central/ federal government and the states?

Anatel carries out inspection activities in the telecommunication services sector and maintains Regional Managements and Operational Units in all Brazilian states. According to the General Telecommunications Law n°. 13.879 of 2019, its main task is to implement the telecommunications policy at the national level.

The new General Telecommunications Law mainly changed the permission for the migration of concessions to authorizations, under the guarantee of investment in the expansion of broadband, the transfer of radio frequency authorization to another company, as a secondary use, and the transfer of reversible assets to providers of telecommunication services.. Although the changes allow services of collective and essential interest to be operated exclusively by the private sector, the responsibilities in the federal structure have not changed.

Previously the Russian regions (states) had independence in the area of information technologies since Article 73 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation secures to them the entirety of state power outside the limits of joint jurisdiction and exclusive jurisdiction of the federal center.

After the vote on changes in the Constitution of the Russian Federation took place on 1st of July 2020[1], the Russian regions (states) formally lost independence in the area of information technologies, due to changes in the Article 71[2] of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

In particular, in the sections i) and l) of the Article 71 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation the list of exclusive jurisdiction of the Russian Federation has been supplemented with a new element – information technologies and digital data circulation.  

How these changes will translate into the allocation of responsibilities between the federal center and the Russian regions is yet to be seen, as the vote was very recent.

[1] The changes in the Constitution of the Russian Federation came into force on the 4th of July 2020, after the President of the Russian Federation signed a Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of No. 445 of July 3,2020 “On the official publication of the Constitution of the Russian Federation as amended”.

[2] The text of the Constitution of the Russian Federation was amended by the Laws of the Russian Federation on the amendment to the Constitution of the Russian Federation No. 1-FKZ dated March 14, 2020.

The Constitution of India sets out the allocation of legislative responsibilities between the Union Government and the States. As per this, the power to make laws relating to “posts and telegraphs; telephones, wireless, broadcasting and other like forms of communication” has been vested in the Central Government (The Constitution of India, 2022, Entry 31, List 1 (Union List), Seventh Schedule). However, some aspects of telecom regulation might relate to other subjects that fall in the State List or in the Concurrent List, which means that both the Union and the State Government can regulate such matters. The subject of land, which is an important area in terms of right of way policies for telecom infrastructure, is one such example of a subject that falls under the domain of State Governments (The Constitution of India, 2022, Entry 18, List 2 (State List), Seventh Schedule).

China does not follow a federal structure, the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau however, are autonomous to some degree (Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of People’s Republic of China, 1993). Article 17 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China reads: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be vested with legislative power. Laws enacted by the legislature of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for the record. The reporting for record shall not affect the entry into force of such laws (Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of People’s Republic of China, 2021). Thus, giving power to the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to legislate regulations such as the Communications Authority Ordinance, which regulates issues regarding telecommunications in Hong Kong as well as the establishment of the Communications Authority (Communications Authority, 2012). The Communications Authority is independent to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (Communications Authority, 2021). Macau on the other hand, has the Basic Telecommunications Law, which was decreed by The Legislative Assembly, in terms of the subsection 1) of the 71st Article of the Basic Law of the Special Administrative Region of Macao to define the bases of the telecommunications policy of the Special Administrative Region of Macao, as well as the general framework which regulates the establishment, management and exploration of telecommunications networks and the telecommunications services rendered.[1] Telecommunications authority in Macau is the Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation, which was established in accordance with the Administrative Regulation No. 5/2006 (repealed and replaced by Administrative Regulation No. 29/2016), the Bureau is in charge of providing postal public services and regulating, monitoring, promoting, and coordinating all activities related to the telecommunications industry.

[1] To learn more, see the Basic Telecommunications Law (2001).

The provincial governments of the nine provinces of South Africa have their own executive and legislative branches, but not separate judicial systems. In terms of the telecommunications sector, there is no separation of responsibilities between the national government and the provinces.

4. Is there a competition department within the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority?

There is no competition department, but competition matters are the competence of the Competition Superintendence that was instituted by Anatel’s bylaws in April 2013. The Competition Superintendent analyzes the case and submits the approval to the agency’s Board of Directors.

There are caveats to the infrastructure sharing conflicts that involve the electricity, telecommunications and oil sectors, and it is supported by the joint resolution n°2 of 2001, between the municipalities – Anatel, the National Petroleum Agency and the National Electric Energy Agency

No. The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media has no competition (or anti-monopoly) department.

TRAI does not have a separate competition division but issues relevant to competition in the telecom sector could be taken up by different divisions. For instance, in February 2018, TRAI issued an amendment to its telecommunication tariff order to include provisions on significant market power and predatory pricing (TRAI, 2018d). It provided that any service provider that holds more than thirty per cent market share would be barred from offering services at a price which is below the average variable cost, with a view to reducing competition in the relevant market. This order was struck down by the TDSAT for lack of transparency and based on the observation that specifying a threshold of thirty per cent amounts to the abdication of TRAI’s regulatory powers (IANS, 2019).

Through the draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022, the government has proposed to give TRAI an explicit competition mandate. This refers to the proposed power to direct licensees to “abstain from predatory pricing that is harmful to the overall health of the telecommunication sector, competition, long term development and fair market mechanism” (Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, Section 46(k)).

As per the portal of MIIT, its Information and Communication Administration Bureau reportedly announced some campaign-like enforcement against online unfair competition (Xinhuanet News, 2021). At the same time, MIIT’s Department of Industrial Policy and Regulations used to make policies on enterprise mergers (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, n. d.).

One of ICASA’s strategic objectives is to promote competition, by implementing measures to facilitate effective, competitive markets in the sector. This ex ante regulation is designed to protect consumers by safeguarding fair competition and by preventing anti-competitive behaviour. Ex post regulation, which deals with failures after they occur, and is the scope of the Competition Commission and Tribunal.

However, ICASA’s failure to impose ex ante regulation and act effectively on competition issues has resulted in the Competition Commission (The Competition Commission South Africa, n.d) being identified as the agency best suited to deal with such issues.

5 Does the country have a Competition Authority? If so, is it an independent body and what are its attributions?

The country has the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade), which is a Brazilian federal autarchy, linked to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. Component to Cade is the activities of the Brazilian Competition Defense System and the Secretariat for Economic Monitoring (SEAE).

Cade is responsible for guiding, inspecting, preventing and investigating abuses of economic power, acting on prevention and repression. The most recent regulation, Law n° 12.529 of 2011, reorganized the body into the Administrative Tribunal for Economic Defense, the General Superintendence and the Department of Economic Studies. The Administrative Court has the function of judging competitive matters, preventing, reprimanding and educating the Brazilian market; the Superintendence, on the other hand, instructs processes in the control of conduct, concentrations and market monitoring; and the Department prepares economic studies to assist other agencies[1].

[1] Information on the Brazilian Consumer Protection System is described in Law 12.259 of the Presidency of the Republic (2011).

Russia’s Ministry for Antimonopoly Policy and Support to Entrepreneurship (MAP Russia) was abolished on March 9, 2004, and its powers were delegated to other authorities. The functions of the federal antimonopoly body, control over the activity of natural monopolies and observance of the legislation on advertising were delegated to newly established Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).

Federal Antimonopoly Service (the FAS Russia) is an authorized federal executive body, which is carrying out its functions with regard to the approval of the regulatory legal acts and control over compliance with the anti-monopoly legislation, legislation in the field of natural monopolies’ activity, in the field of state regulation of prices (tariffs) for the goods (services), advertising, foreign investments in the business entities of strategic importance for the Russian national defence and state security, control in the field of state defence order, purchases of goods, works and services for the state and municipal needs and procurement of goods, works and services by certain legal entities, as well as with regard to the approval of closed methods for selection of suppliers (contractors, performers).

The FAS Russia represented by the Central Office as well as its 84 Regional Offices (which have their own functions and competences) are independent in decision-making. In the structure of public authorities, the FAS Russia is reporting to the Government of the Russian Federation by submitting to the Government of the Russian Federation an annual report on the results of its activities. FAS Russia is subordinate to the Government of the Russian Federation (reports directly to the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation).

The FAS Russia works in the conditions under which the legal framework defining its activities, together with the characteristics of its institutional position ensure the independence of the authority from political influence.

Absence of political pressure on the FAS Russia is ensured by the fact that the authority is directly subordinated to the Government of the Russian Federation, but does not make a part of it. On the one hand, it determines the status of the authority that is different from the status of the federal ministry. On the other hand, as the FAS Russia controls the relevant activity of authorities, this fact ensures the FAS Russia acts independently as an anti-monopoly authority while bringing cases against authorities, primarily against federal ones.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), which is a statutory body constituted under the Competition Act (2002) is the country’s competition regulatory authority. It is responsible for investigating cases relating to anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominance and regulating combinations that might have an appreciable adverse effect on competition. The Commission consists of a Chairperson and between two to six other members appointed by the Central Government (The Competition Act, 2002, Section 8). These selections are to be made based on the recommendations of a selection committee headed by the Chief Justice of India (The Competition Act, 2002, Section 9). CCI’s work is supported by a separate investigative wing called the Office of Director General.

In addition to its regulatory functions, CCI also has an advocacy mandate, which includes providing advice to the government in response to a request seeking inputs on competition implications of policy actions and creating awareness regarding competition issues (The Competition Act, 2002, Section 49). In exercise of its functions under this provision, CCI has issued guidelines for the competition assessment of economic legislations and policies. As a part of this exercise, CCI is reported to have commissioned a market study on the telecom sector, which will cover issues like the  adoption of new technologies, concentration levels and vertical integration (“Competition Commission initiates”, 2020).

Before the institutional reform in 2018, the competence of anti-monopoly work was divided among three departments, with the Anti-monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, the Price Supervision, Inspection and Anti-monopoly Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Anti-monopoly and Anti-unfair Competition Enforcement Bureau of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce exercising anti-monopoly functions.

Among those, the major competition authority in China was the Anti-Monopoly Bureau, which was subordinate to the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. In 2021, The State Antimonopoly Bureau, was established as a national bureau under the State Council, and became subordinate to ​​the State Administration for Market Regulation. The new Bureau reportedly includes Competition Policy Coordination Division, Anti-monopoly Enforcement Division I, Anti-monopoly Enforcement Division II (Bin, 2021).

  • The Division of Competition Policy Coordination coordinates competition policy implementation and antimonopoly investigation on a comprehensive basis; (State Administration for Market Regulation, 2021c)
  • The First Division of Anti-monopoly Enforcement is responsible for anti-monopoly enforcement of monopoly agreements, abuse of dominant market position and abuse of intellectual property rights to exclude and restrict competition; (State Administration for Market Regulation, 2021a)
  • The Second Division of Anti-monopoly Enforcement is responsible for the anti-monopoly review of operator concentration in accordance with the law. It also investigates and handles cases of operator concentrations that violate the law, as well as cases that do not meet the declaration standards but may be able to exclude or restrict competition. (State Administration for Market Regulation, 2021b)

The Competition Commission is one of three independent statutory bodies established in terms of the Competition Act, No. 89 of 1998, to regulate competition between firms in the market. The other bodies are the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Court (CAC). The Competition Commission is the investigating and prosecuting agency in the competition regime while the Competition Tribunal is the court. The CAC hears appeals against decisions of the Tribunal. Although each of the bodies functions independently of each other and of the State, the Commission and Tribunal are administratively accountable to the Economic Development Department (EDD), while the CAC is part of the judiciary.

6. Does the country have a Data Protection Authority? If so, is it an independent body and what are its attributions? If not, which body of the government takes care of personal data-related issues?

The data protection framework is based on the General Law for the Protection of Personal Data (LGPD) n.13.709 of August 2018. The legislation came into force in August 2020. In July 2019, law n.13953 amended the LGPD and created the National Authority for the Protection of Personal Data. The created body must implement, supervise and ensure compliance with the law in the national territory. The LGPD was inspired by the General Data Protection Regulation (European Union). The law regulates the processing of personal data on digital media, either by a natural person or by a legal person under public or private law. The aim is to protect the fundamental rights of freedom and privacy. The law defines data categories; determines the possibilities of collection, processing of data, purpose, and need for requesting and using personal data; establishes the rights of data subjects, including for special conditions of sensitive data and segments of the population; establishes the obligations towards companies, a differentiated regime for the Public Power; determines the creation of a national authority to establish sanctions in case of violations, guidelines, alerts and any type of penalties; citizen guarantee system to request that data be deleted or revoked at any time. The law institutes three important figures: the Controller, the Operator, and the Supervisor. Organizations must have agents responsible for the processing of data with functions determined according to the size and volume of data processed. Therefore, Brazilian law guarantees the choice and consent, access and correction to the data, demands responsibility from data holders, and rights of reparation.

It is important to emphasize that the defense of values ​​of privacy, data protection, intimacy, and inviolability of communications already had a relative guarantee through the following laws: Marco Civil da Internet that developed human rights in digital media, consumer protection law, etc.

After the LGPD was in force, it was approved from the structure of regulations of the National Authority through decree n.10,474 of 2020. The decree created the board of directors with a mandate period and attributions of the directors. The National Authority for the Protection of Personal Data has technical and decision-making autonomy to supervise and develop guidelines and norms related to the protection, collection, use, storage, and distribution of personal data of Brazilian citizens. In January 2021, the Authority’s ordinance 11 of 2021 established a Regulatory Agenda, determined the creation of the Internal Regulation and the Strategic Planning for the 2021-2023 triennium.

Yes, the national data protection authority in Russia is the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technologies and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor). It is not independent and is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 1715 of December 3, 2008. A complete list of Roskomnadzor’s powers can be found on Roskomnadzor website (Roskomnadzor, 2013).

At present, India does not have a data protection authority. A proposal to create such a body was first brought to the table under the draft Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill (2019) that was introduced in the Parliament in December 2019. The proposed Data Protection Authority of India under the 2019 PDP Bill was toconsist of a Chairperson and not more than six full-time members, to be appointed by the Central Government (PDP Bill, 2019, Section 42). The proposed functions of this agency included laying down regulations, protecting the interests of individuals in respect of their personal data and preventing its misuse, ensuring compliance with the provisions of the law, and promoting data protection awareness (PDP Bill, 2019, Section 49). However, in August 2022 the government decided to withdraw the PDP Bill, 2019 and has now replaced it with a new draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 (DPD Bill).

The  DPD Bill replaces the idea of a Data Protection Authority with that of a Data Protection Board of India. This Board is proposed to be entrusted with a much narrower scope of functions, mainly focused on enforcing compliance with the law and addressing situations of data breach (draft DPD Bill, 2022, Section 20). The new bill is also much weaker in terms of clarity about the composition and procedures of the Data Protection Board. It provides that the government will make rules relating to the strength and composition of the Board, the process of selection, terms and conditions of appointment and service, removal of its Chairperson and other Members in the future (draft DPD Bill, 2022, Section 19).

Pending the enactment of this new legislation, limited protections for personal data are available under Section 43A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act). This section provides for the payment of compensation to individuals for any wrongful loss suffered due to a body corporate’s failure to maintain reasonable security practices while dealing with sensitive personal data. Further details regarding the implementation of this requirement have been laid down by the government under the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

In addition, various sector-specific regulators also regulate issues relating to data protection in their respective sectors. In the telecom sector, certain data protection related provisions are contained in telecom licenses as well as in legislations such as the IT Act and the Telegraph Act, 1885. This includes protection of privacy of communications and restrictions on any unauthorised interception of messages (The Telegraph Act, 1885, Section 25; TRAI, 2017a).

Before the Personal Information Protection Law was introduced, China did not have a data protection authority, the allocation of data protection responsibility was scattered between sectors such as Cyberspace Administration, Industry and Ministry of Information Technology, Public Security Organs, State Post Bureau, the People’s Bank of China, etc., thus with the widely distributed power and responsibility and troubles of coordination between sectors, it used to be  difficult to form a top down data protection system. However, the PIPL came into effect in 2021, with its Article 60 saying that the Cyberspace Administration of China plays a coordinating role in protecting personal information and some other ministry-level departments excise data protection authority in their specific sectors. For example, Network Security Bureau of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology sometimes takes care of personal data related issues.

The Information Regulator is an independent body established in terms of Section 39 of the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA). It is accountable to the National Assembly and has jurisdiction throughout the Republic of South Africa.

The Regulator is responsible for the promotion and protection of the right to privacy as it relates to the protection of personal information and right of access to information. The Information Regulator is, among other authorities, empowered to monitor and enforce compliance by public and private bodies with the provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and the POPIA.

In June 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the bulk of the Protection of Personal Information Act will come into force on 1 July 2020, seven years after the Act was passed.

7. Does the country have a specific public body dealing with open data? If so, is it an independent body and what are its attributions?

There is the Federal Executive’s Open Data Policy that defines rules and resources for making open government data available. The initiative was built on a series of documents, regulations and rules.

The Federal Comptroller General (CGU)[1] is the main body responsible for the management and monitoring of the Policy – Decree n° 9.903 of 2019, through the National Open Data Infrastructure (INDA) (Office of Logistics and Information Technology, 2012). A Management Committee composed of several stakeholders supports INDA. The main resource for organizing data is the Brazilian Open Data Portal, which functions as a catalog for research and use of data published by government agencies.

The planning of actions to implement and promote the opening of data by the agencies is operationalized by the Open Data Plan (Federal Government, n.d.b). To execute the plan, there is a Manual for preparing open data plans. The Office of the Comptroller General of the Union has created an Open Data Policy Monitoring Panel, which allows the population to check whether the administrative bodies are complying with the transparency provisions and the fulfillment of the respective plan. The execution of open data plans has a timetable for making the data available.

[1] The Office of the Comptroller General of the Union is a body that reports directly to the Federal Executive Branch in matters related to the defense of public assets and to the increase of management transparency, through the activities of internal control, public audit, correction, prevention and fight against corruption and ombudsman.

The following organizations are working to coordinate and develop Open Government Data (OGD) at the federal level: the Russian  Open  Data  Council[1], the  Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Telecommunication, and the Government Analytical Center of the Russian Federation. The Open Data Council is a part of the Government Commission on Open Government; it coordinates the development of OGD  through preparing government programs, proposals and recommendations, collecting and applying the best practices, promoting the idea of OGD, and through creating independent  feedback channels. The Ministry of Economic Development is responsible for developing the federal portal, providing operational and procedural support and synchronization of federal and regional initiatives.The Ministry of Telecommunications is responsible for coordination of OGD-development by government bodies including corresponding information systems, as well as the advancement of social e-services based on OGD.  The Government Analytical Center of the Russian Federation monitors the OGD in the  Russian Federation: the  results  of  the analysis are published in Open Data Bulletin (Open Data Bulletin, 2015-2016) that has been issued every three months since June 2015.

In Russia, in 2013, a law[2] was adopted to ensure access to information on the activities of state bodies and local self-government bodies, according to which publication of data in the public domain has become mandatory. The basic principles for ensuring access to information on the activities of state bodies and local governments are as follows: openness and accessibility of information on the activities of state bodies; accuracy of information; freedom of searching, receiving, transmitting and disseminating information. The law prohibits the dissemination of information containing state secrets or personal data.

In  2014,  the  Russian  Government approved the road map of IT sector development for the  years  2014-2025  (ICT  Road-Map,  2013),  and  OGD development  is one  of the  main priorities  of the plan.

[1] Guidelines for the publication of open data by state bodies and local governments, as well as technical requirements for the publication of open data. Version 3.0 (Government Commission for Coordinating the Activities of the Open Government, 2014).

[2]The term  “open  data”  was  officially  defined  in Federal  Law No.  112-FZ (2013),  which  formed  the  legal basis for the government’s work with open data.

The Right to Information Act [RTI Act] (2005) creates the statutory framework for bringing about  transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities. It mandates all public authorities to publish details about the organisation, directory of officials, budget allocations, rules, regulations and manuals, etc. on a sub moto basis (RTI Act, 2005, Section 4). In addition, citizens have the right to request for any specific information from the designated public information officials required to be appointed by each public agency (RTI Act, 2005, Section 6). There are, however, some limitations on the end of information that can be sought. This includes any personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or which would cause an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy (RTI Act, 2005, Section 8(1)(j)). The new draft DPD Bill proposes to change the scope of this provision to exclude all personal information, while removing the language that balances the privacy rights of an individual against the larger public interest in disclosure of a certain piece of information (draft DPD Bill, 2022, Section 30(2)).

Further, RTI Act provides for the creation of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions that are responsible for inquiring into any non-compliance with the law by various public authorities. This may include situations where a public information officer has not been appointed, a request for information has been denied or inaccurate information has been provided (RTI Act, 2005, Section 18). In order to ensure the independence of these bodies the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner and other information commissioners is to be done directly by the President based on the recommendations of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and a Union Cabinet Minister (RTI Act, 2005, Section 12). However, in a controversial move, the Parliament made certain amendments to the RTI Act in 2019, which allow the government to vary the terms of appointment and salaries of the commissioners (Sinha, 2019).

The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) adopted by the Department of Science and technology in 2010 is another important development in the open data context. The document creates a framework for ensuring the public availability of data that has been created through the use of public resources provided by the Government of India either directly or through various departments, agencies and autonomous bodies (Department of Science and Technology, 2012). The adoption of this policy was accompanied by the creation of the portal that serves as the open government data platform. A few State Governments have also created similar portals at the state level.

In May, 2022 the Indian government put out a Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy to create a mechanism for the pooling and sharing of non-personal data and anonymized data from government and private sources (voluntarily in the case of private entities) (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 2022). The policy seeks to create a body known as the India Data Management Office (IDMO) to be set up under the Digital India Corporation, a corporate entity under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). The IDMO will develop meta dataset rules, sharing standards standards, and guidelines for the implementation of the data sharing policy.

China does not have a specific body dealing with open data. The Cyberspace Administration of China (Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission), National Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology joint issued the “Work Plan for the Pilot Program of Opening of Public Information Resources (unofficial translation),”(公共信息资源开放试点工作方案)which determined Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang province, Fujian province, and Guizhou province as regions under the pilot program to carry out the pilot program of opening of public information resources (CAC, n.d.). In the “Action Outline for Promoting the Development of Big Data” (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2015) the State Council stated that one of the main tasks is to accelerate the opening and sharing of government data, promoting the integration of resources, and enhancing the governance capacity, and establishing a national unified open platform for government data by the end of 2018 to make public data resources available to the public in a reasonable and moderate. 

The national data and information governance framework provides the legal basis for accessing government information in the public interest. Section 32(1) of the Constitution provides for the right to access information stating that “everyone has the right to access any information that is held by the state; and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”.

The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was enacted by Parliament in 2000 to give effect to this constitutionally-recognised right. The act recognises that the system of government in South Africa before 1994 resulted in a secretive and unresponsive culture in the public and private bodies which would often lead to an abuse of power and human rights violations. PAIA seeks to change that state of affairs by establishing clear rules regarding the right to access of information. The Information Regulator has the mandate to provide guidelines that would be accessible to everyone. PAIA also mandates all bodies to publish a manual which sets out the categories of documents that they may disclose or refuse to disclose.

In order to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in both the public and private sectors, PAIA does not cater only for the accessibility of publicly held information but also makes provisions for accessing information that is held by private bodies in South Africa. Part 2 of the Act is aimed at access to records of public bodies while part 3 is dedicated to the access of records of private bodies. Many provisions in part 2 and part 3 are substantially similar.

The Information regulator has been given oversight of both this law and the data protection law (POPIA).

PAIA doesn’t state anything explicitly on open government data except for saying departments must state which records they ‘voluntarily and proactively’ disclose. The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) has the Open Government Partnership (OGP) mandate. OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and subnational governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

8. Does the country have a body / an authority for managing the cyber security incidents such as CERTs/CSIRTs? If so, what are its attributions and what is the nature of such an entity (e.g. governmental, multistakeholder, private)?

The Center for Studies, Response, and Treatment of Security Incidents in Brazil ( is a service of the (Ponto BR Information and Coordination Center) which was created in 1997, at the initiative of the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil ( The committee is a multi-stakeholder organization that coordinates all Internet-related activities in Brazil. The center is responsible for handling security incidents on computers involving the networks connected to the Internet in the country (Center for Studies, Response and Treatment of Security Incidents in Brazil, 2022).

The center coordinates incidents for any network that uses Internet Resources allocated by, that is, IP addresses or Autonomous Systems allocated to Brazil, and domains under the ccTLD .br.

The center also works to raise awareness of security-related issues, such as trends and events on the Brazilian Internet, to establish Brazilian Security and Incident Response Groups (CSIRTs). CSIRTs are recognized for their strategic role in increasing the levels of security and incident handling of connected networks. The center is supported by boards, centers, advisors, and the World Wide Web Consortium office.

According to the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), there are 5 CERT teams in Russian Federation, CERT-GIB, BI.ZONE-CERT, FinCERT, Infosecurity Incident Response Team (IN4-CERT) and RU-CERT.

 RU-CERT is part of the international associations CSIRT / CERT of the centers FIRST and Trusted Introducer, and within the framework of these associations officially acts as a contact party in the Russian Federation.

RU-CERT is a name of Computer Security Incident Response Team RU-CERT (CSIRT /CERT team) from Russian Federation. RU-CERT is an independent nonprofit organisation, its main objective is to reduce the level of information security threats for users of the Russian segment of the Internet (.ru and .su TLDs). The organization’s area of competence includes countering the use of domain names (in the “.SU” domain) in order to: carry out phishing, unauthorized access to information systems of third parties (users, visitors), distribute malware, and manage malware (botnet control).

In order to achieve its objectives, RU-CERT cooperates with leading Russian IT companies, operators of operative-search activities, state authorities and government of the Russian Federation, foreign centers for responding to computer incidents and other organizations operating in the field of computer and information security.

RU-CERT operates within the regulatory framework of the Russian Federation, therefore, RU-CERT is not authorized to deal with issues that are within the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies. In these cases, one must contact the regional units of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) or the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. RU-CERT does not have the authority to close resources, filter addresses, stop delegating domains, remove content from a particular resource, search for people involved in certain actions, etc. RU-CERT does not record or register the facts of spam messages.

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is India’s national cyber incident response agency. Its functions include the collection and analysis of information on cyber incidents, emergency measures for handling such cases and developing information security related procedures and practices (The Information Technology Act [IT Act], 2000). In order to discharge these functions, CERT-In has the power to call for any relevant information and give directions to service providers, intermediaries, data centres, and others. CERT-In consists of a Director General and such other officers as may be prescribed by the government and it functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (InformationTechnology (The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team and Manner of Performing Functions and Duties) Rules, 2013). As per the rules notified by this Ministry, CERT-In is supposed to interact with and co-ordinate among a range of stakeholders, including intermediaries, industry players, academia, law enforcement agencies, international CERTs and the DoT. The rules also provide for the creation of an Advisory Council to guide CERT-In on policy matters. This Council consists of ten members and two special invitees. Most of the members are representatives of government agencies, such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence, Law and Justice and DoT. However, there is also provision for the inclusion of one industry representative, to be selected on a rotational basis among different Indian industry associations.

The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China (CNCERT/CC) (2013), manages cyber security incidents. In 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (2017d) issued the Public Internet Network Security Incident Emergency Response Plan (unofficial translation)(公共互联网网络安全突发事件应急预案), the Plan stated that under the coordination of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs will lead the work of responding to public Internet network security incidents, and is responsible for commanding and coordinating in occurrence of major cybersecurity incidents. The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China is a non-governmental non-profit cybersecurity technical center.

The National Cybersecurity Policy Framework (NCPF) is the overarching cybersecurity strategy in South Africa. The Cybersecurity Hub (CSIRT, 2016)  was established by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services in 2015. It is South Africa’s National Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), and is working with stakeholders from government, the private sector, civil society and the public with a view to identifying and countering cybersecurity threats.

9. Does the country have a coordination system involving the aforementioned institutions? If so, what is the nature of such an entity (e.g. governmental, multistakeholder, private)?

In 1995, Brazil created the Internet Steering Committee. In 2003, a Presidential Decree modified the committee and created institutions that consolidated the internet governance model. The Committee is a non-state and multisectoral organization, in which members participate in the deliberation of Internet policies and the management of technical resources.

The committee’s decisions aggregate opinions from different sectors of the internet ecosystem in Brazil. The entities, together with the committee, suggest rules and procedures, recommend standards, and promote studies, indicators and statistics for the development of the Internet in Brazil. The Ponto BR Information and Coordination Center was created to implement the decisions and projects of the Steering Committee, thus it is a legal institution under private law, non-state, non-profit association, charged with implementing decisions and projects through the following entities : with the assignment of domain names and Internet Protocols in Brazil;, which is part of the IT emergency response group; the Center for Studies and Research in Networks and Operations Technology that takes care of the technical quality of the Internet; the Center for Studies on Information and Communication Technologies, which is responsible for producing indicators and statistics on availability and use.

Russia has a State System for the Detection, Prevention and Elimination of the Consequences of Computer Attacks (GosSOPKA) that was created in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 31c. of January 15, 2013.

In January 2013, President Vladimir Putin instructed the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia to create a system for detecting, preventing and eliminating the consequences of computer attacks on IT resources located in Russia, as well as in diplomatic missions and consular posts of Russia abroad.

On January 1, 2018, the Federal Law No. 187-FZ of July 26, 2017 “On the Security of Critical Information Infrastructure” came into force in Russia.

 The Law is intended to regulate relations in the field of ensuring the security of information infrastructure facilities of the Russian Federation, the functioning of which is critically important for the state economy. According to the Law, information systems and networks, as well as automated control systems operating in the following areas can be classified as critical information infrastructure objects: health; science; transport; communication; power engineering; banking and other areas of the financial market; fuel and energy complex; atomic energy; defense and rocket and space industry; mining, metallurgical and chemical industries.

Objects of critical information infrastructure, as well as telecommunication networks used to organize interaction between them, make up the concept of critical information infrastructure.

The requirements of this Law affect those organizations (state bodies and institutions, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs) that own (on the basis of ownership, lease or other legal basis) objects of critical information infrastructure or which ensure their interaction.

The Ministry of Digital Development, Telecommunications and Communications of the Russian Federation will create special competition commissions that will determine who will and how to receive subsidies for the creation of industry centers of the State System for the Detection, Prevention and Elimination of the Consequences of Computer Attacks (GosSOPKA) and its inclusion in the system of automated exchange of information on current cyber threats. The corresponding order was published in November 2019 on the Official Portal of Legal Information of the Government of the Russian Federation (Order of the Ministry of Digital Development, Telecommunications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation No. 629 of October 30, 2019).

India does not have a designated co-ordination body or system for co-ordination among different statutory agencies. The absence of such a mechanism has led to instances of regulatory uncertainty in the past. This was notably seen in a dispute relating to the jurisdiction of CCI and TRAI in a case relating to the alleged denial of interconnection by incumbent operators to a new player. The Supreme Court decided in this case that only once TRAI, as the specialised sector regulator, has looked into the technical aspects of the issue should the CCI step in to examine whether there was any violation of competition law (Competition Commission of India vs. Bharti Airtel, 2019; Sanghi, 2018). While doing so, the Court noted the need to maintain ‘comity’ between the sectoral regulator and the market regulator, CCI.

Certain limited elements of co-ordination are reflected in the laws governing various agencies. For instance, the Competition Act enables the CCI and other statutory regulators to make references to one another although the provision is hardy ever used in practice (Parsheera, 2018a). The previous draft of the data protection bill also provided for co-ordination between the proposed DPA and other regulatory authorities (PDP Bill, 2019, Section 56). The proposed mechanics for such co-ordination consisted of mandatory consultation on issues of concurrent jurisdiction and the option to enter into a memorandum of understanding. However, these provisions have been done away with under the new DPDP Bill, 2022.

Leading Group for National Informatization is the coordination body of the institutions, with Xi Jin Ping as the leader of the group (General Office of the State Council, 1999). The group is consisting of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Premier of the State Council, Director General of National Radio and Television Administration, Chairman of the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, Secretary of the Leading Party Members’ Group of the Ministry of Science & Technology and Ministers of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance and so on. The goal of the group is to act as the leader between major cybersecurity and informatization problems between different fields and to strategize the development of national cybersecurity and informatization (Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, n. d.).


1. Are the telecommunication regulations and standards openly and publicly accessible?

In accordance with Article 37, item 3 of the Internal Resolution of the National Telecommunications Agency, the rights and duties observed by federal legislation with regard to access to information, agency decisions and other documents must be disclosed on the internet. The agency has an Open Data Plan (2019-2020)[1] that guides the implementation and opening of data. The Plan is organized according to the Agency’s Strategic Planning, whose objective is the dissemination of open data and sectorial information. In addition, the Plan follows the guidance of the Access to Information Law and the National Open Data Policy of the Federal Executive Branch.

The Plan is in line with the Agency’s Strategic Planning which establishes among its objectives the promotion of the dissemination of sectorial data and information. In addition, the preparation of the PDA is in line with the provisions of the ‘Access to Information Law’, and also Decree n° 8.777 of 2016, which instituted the Federal Executive Branch’s Open Data Policy.

[1] The agency’s  Open Data Plan was approved by Ordinance No. 1838 of 2018 and amended by Ordinance No. 1935 of 2019.

Yes, telecommunication regulations and standards (GOSTs) are publicly available. The Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology (Rosstandart) is part of the system of federal executive bodies of the Russian Federation and is administered by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

The Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology is a federal executive body that performs the functions of rendering public services and managing state property in the field of technical regulation and metrology.

Prior to amendments to the legislative acts of the Russian Federation, the Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology licenses the manufacture and repair of measuring instruments, as well as the functions of state metrological control and supervision. The Federal Agency also exercises control and supervision over compliance with the mandatory requirements of national standards and technical regulations until the Government of the Russian Federation decides to transfer these functions to other federal executive bodies.

It was formed in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 649 of May 20, 2004 “Issues of the structure of federal executive bodies”. The Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology conducts its activities in accordance with the Regulation approved by Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of June 17, 2004 No. 294 (2004).

Rosstandart maintains a database with existing technical regulations (Rosstandart, 2022c), a catalog of national standards (Rosstandart, 2022b) , a catalog of interstate standards (Rosstandart, 2022a) and a catalog of international standards (ISO). This database is available on Rosstandard’s website

According to the TRAI Act, TRAI is meant to exercise transparency in all its functioning. In pursuance of this, the regulations made by TRAI, recommendations made by it to the government and the consultation papers and responses to the consultation are publicly accessible on its website. In addition to this, the legislations and rules administered by the DoT (Department of Telecommunications, n.d.a) and the telecommunication standards developed and adopted by the TSDSI (Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India, 2022c) are also available on their respective websites.

The telecommunication regulations and standards are openly and publicly accessible. According to Article 4 of the Regulation on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016): The supervision and administration of telecommunications shall be carried out according to the principles of separation of the Government and enterprises, anti-monopoly, development promotion, openness, fairness and impartiality.

The telecommunication regulations and standards are openly and publicly accessible. ICASA publishes all the acts, final and underway regulations, inquiries, notices and radio frequency spectrum plans on their website.

2. Is there a specific general telecommunications legislation?

Law n°13.879 of 2019 changed the telecommunications legislation in Brazil. The new framework provides for a new way of operating fixed telephony services through authorization, and the application of balances in broadband investments. The regulation concedes more powers to companies in the telecommunications sector and the exclusive use of bands in the radio frequency spectrum.

With the change, companies acquire the right to exploit the network infrastructure of the old system, by means of authorization, without the direct control of the public regime, which maintains the goals of universalization, continuity and tariff control. Regarding the exploitation of radio frequency bands, companies will be able to sell part of the radio, TV, telephone, mobile and satellite internet transmission bands, through a secondary spectrum market. In other words, the company pays for the exploration and can make a second use of this space.

According to the regulation, the value associated with the adaptation of the concession should guarantee the investment and implementation of data transmission infrastructure in accordance with the guidelines stipulated by the Government. Investment commitments must be integrated with the authorization terms entered into with the telecoms that choose to change the regime, guaranteeing the offer of technologies that prioritize the reduction of regional inequalities, access to networks for people with disabilities and the offer of consumption plans.

Especially on universalization, the new framework defines that services of collective interest are operated exclusively in a private regime, maintaining universalization duties. On the other hand, the presentation of technical projects that are compatible with the applicable rules is released.

Yes, the Federal Law “On communications” establishes the legal principles for activity in the sphere of communications on the territory of the Russian Federation and on the territories put under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, and defines the authority of the state power bodies in the sphere of communications, as well as the rights and the duties of the persons who are taking part in this activity or making use of communications services.

The Telegraph Act and the TRAI Act can be regarded as the primary telecommunications legislations in India. In addition to this, the telecommunications sector is also governed by the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, as well as provisions of the IT Act.

Under the Telegraph Act, a telegraph refers to any apparatus used for transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature through various means (The Telegraph Act, 1885, Section 1AA). The Act provides that the government has the exclusive privilege of operating telegraphs in India but it can grant a license to any other person to carry out such services (The Telegraph Act, 1885, Section 4). This provision forms the basis for the license agreements entered into between TSPs and the government. The other key provisions of the Act include the framework for interception of messages, provisions relating to universal service obligations and the government’s powers to make rules for the conduct of telegraphs. The TRAI Act, as discussed previously, provides for the creation of TRAI and its powers and functions.

Next, the Wireless Telegraphy Act creates a licensing requirement for the procession of any apparatus or material that is used in wireless communication (The Wireless Telegraphy, 1933, Section 3). Finally, the IT Act contains several provisions that apply specifically to intermediaries, which includes TSPs. Notably, Section 79 of the IT Act exempts intermediaries from liability for third-party content, where they are not involved in the creation or modification of such content.


The draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022 now seeks to consolidate and amend the various laws governing the provision and operation of telecommunication services in the country. As and when adopted, this new law will repeal and replace the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950 (Draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022, Section 52(1)).

The general telecommunication legislation is the Regulation on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China issued in 2000 and was revised in 2016. The regulation is formulated to regulate the order of the telecommunications market, to protect the lawful rights and interests of telecommunications users and service providers and to ensure the safety of telecommunications networks and information so as to promote the healthy development of telecommunications (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016).

These laws set out the general legal framework for telecommunications in South Africa:

  • Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act, 12 of 2000 (ICASA Act)
  • Telecommunications Act 103 of 1996
  • Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECT Act)
  • Electronic Communications Act, 2005

They contain a detailed institutional framework, including the creation of the telecommunications regulatory authority (ICASA). They include licensing, competition policy, quality service, interconnection, scarce resources management, universal service, tariffs regulation, penalties and sanctions and dispute resolution. They also cover electronic communications and transactions.

3. Are there any instruments other than legislations and regulations, such as license agreements, that govern the provision of telecommunication services in the country?

The Anatel has a Regulatory Agenda to publicize the entire regulatory process of the Agency. The agenda has norms conducted for a period of two years. The norms are constantly monitored by the Planning and Regulation Superintendence, and guided according to the manual of good regulatory practices (ANATELa, 2018).

The main regulatory instruments for the provision of telecommunications services are: resolutions, overviews, ordinances, laws, decrees, inspection instructions, inspection procedures and standards of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations and Communications. According to the agency’s Internal Resolution No. 612 of 2013, the Regulatory Management is responsible for drafting normative acts that the concession, permission and authorization for the dispatch of telecommunications services, the right to use radio frequencies and the right to use satellite, and proposals for legislative adequacy and for the consistency of the regulatory model of the telecommunications sector. The Station Licensing and Licensing Management performs the processes of bidding, issuing concession, permission and authorization for the exploitation of telecommunications services and authorization for the use of radio frequency, as well as the licensing of stations. The Certification and Numbering Management oversees and controls the use of numbering resources,  the certification and approval of communication products and telecommunications systems. The Spectrum, Orbit and Radio Broadcast Management oversees and controls the use of the radio frequency spectrum, proposing the allocation, destination and conditions of use of radio frequency bands, carries out the coordination and notification procedures for satellite networks and establishes their conditions of use. The Inspection Department must oversee the activities of the co-necessary companies, the telecommunications resources provided, the control of the obligations of the concessionaires and the relationship of service providers with consumers.

The Law on Telecommunications establishes general principles and rules which apply to telecommunications legislation in Russia.

There are also a number of regulations adopted in furtherance of the Law on Telecommunications, e.g. by the Government of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Communications.

a. Such regulations cover, inter alia, the following:

b. Licensing requirements;

c. Rules for the provision of specific telecommunication services;

d. Rules for the operation of telecommunication networks.

In addition, other ancillary considerations affecting the provision of telecommunications services in Russia are regulated by other laws including:

a. The Federal Law ‘On Personal Data’ No. 152-FZ dated 27 July 2006;

b. The Federal Law ‘On Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism’ No. 115-FZ dated 07 August 2001;

c. The Federal Law ‘On Licensing on Certain Types of Activities’ No. 99-FZ dated 04 May 2011.

The telecom license agreement entered into between TSPs and the government is an important document that lays down the terms and conditions on which such authorisation has been granted. The license agreement grants the service provider the non-exclusive right to offer specified categories of services. Historically, the step-by-step liberalisation of the telecom sector meant that there were several different categories of license agreements, depending on the type of services being provided by an entity and the point at which it received the authorisation (Parsheera, 2018b). These included the Cellular Mobile Telephone Service license, the Unified Access Service License, and stand-alone ISP licenses.

Following the adoption of the National Telecom Policy, 2012, the government introduced the Unified License, which is meant to account for the convergence of different types of services. For licensing and spectrum allocation purposes, the territory of India has been divided into 23 telecom service areas (Department of Telecommunications, n.d.b). The Unified License has created a streamlined framework through which an applicant can apply for multiple services and service areas (Department of Telecommunications, 2016a). This license agreement sets out requirements relating to the ownership structure of the licensee,  conditions on use of spectrum, the license term and covered area, as well as various other financial, technical, and operating conditions (Department of Telecommunications, n.d.c). Any violation of the license terms could attract a financial penalty that may range from one to ten million Rupees per service area.

Yes, for example the Internet Society of China (n. d.) once called for wide signatories of  the Telecommunications and Internet Industry Network Data Security Self-Regulation Convention.

ICASA is responsible for regulating the telecommunications sector and these regulations cover electronic communications, licensing, consumer protection, radio frequency spectrum, broadcasting and postal services.

Other considerations affecting the provision of telecommunications services in South Africa are regulated by other laws including the POPI Act, RICA, Consumer Protection Act.

4. Is there any obligation to provide open data regarding the telecommunications infrastructure?

Brazil has made progress in creating laws, standards, policies and practices designed to open data, such as the creation of the National Open Data Infrastructure, the Access to Information Law, the Civil Framework of the Internet, Open Data Policy, Data Governance Policy, Digital Government Strategy and the implementation of the 4th National Partnership Plan with the Open Government Partnership (Brazilian Network Information Center [] & Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society [], 2019). In addition, the provision of data is part of the Agency’s Strategic Planning. In view of this, the agency has an open data panel on infrastructure, quality, indicators, sector categories and the main telecommunication services (ANATEL, 2022a).

No, but there is the register of the communications infrastructure of the Russian Federation is maintained by Roskomnadzor (2012). Clause 1 of the order of the Ministry of Digital Development, Telecommunications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation of July 31, 2019 N 221 “On approval of the terms, procedure, composition and format for the provision by telecom operators, owners or other owners of technological communication networks, organizers of the dissemination of information in the information and telecommunication network” Internet”, as well as other persons who have a unique identifier for the totality of communications and other technical means in the information and telecommunications network “Internet”, in the electronic form of information provided for by subparagraph 4 of paragraph 8 of Article 56.2 of the Federal Law of 07.07.2003 N 126-FZ ” On Communications” provides that telecom operators, owners or other owners of technological communication networks, the organizer of the dissemination of information in the information and telecommunications network “Internet”, as well as other persons who have a unique identifier for the totality of communications and other technical means on the Internet, submit to Federal service for supervision in the field of communications, information technology and mass communications information: about the autonomous system number they have, as well as about the network addresses belonging to the autonomous system; on interaction with telecom operators having an autonomous system number, owners or other owners of technological communication networks, other persons; about the places of connection of their means of communication to communication lines crossing the State Border of the Russian Federation; on the places of installation of their communications equipment connected to communication lines located outside the territory of the Russian Federation; about telecommunication message routes; about technical and software tools (including communication tools) functioning in order to identify the Internet network addresses corresponding to domain names; about the infrastructure of their communication network in electronic form by filling out electronic forms or posting information in XML format in a personal account on the official website of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications on the Internet or by organizing automatic interaction of their communication network management systems or means of communication with the information system for monitoring and managing a public communication network, created in accordance with Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of February 13, 2019 N 136 “On the Center for Monitoring and Controlling a Public Communications Network” (Ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation No. 303-ES22-6625 of May 26, 2022).

TSPs are not under an obligation to provide open data regarding their telecommunications infrastructure. However, Airtel, which is one of the largest service providers in India has voluntarily adopted what it calls an “open network” policy. Its website contains an interactive map through which one can find the details of its current towers and tower upgrade status in different parts of the country (Airtel, 2016). In addition to this, DoT has partnered with the industry to create a portal called Tarang Sanchar (2023). Its main objective is to provide information to the public regarding electro-magnetic fields (EMF) signals but it also allows users to view the telecom tower details in their area and their EMF safety status. The information on the website appears to be incomplete in terms of coverage and is accessible only after the user completes a verification process providing their email address and phone number.

Yes, Urgent notice regarding co-location and sharing of the telecommunication infrastructure (unofficial translation) (关于推进电信基础设施共建共享的紧急通知) stated that State/City Communication Administration should establish telecommunication infrastructure database accessible to basic telecommunication businesses (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2008c).

There is no obligation. Most mobile operators publish their coverage data, but not the data on tower locations etc.

5. Is there any obligation to provide open data on backhaul pricing?

The obligation to provide information is part of a set of regulations related to access to Information and the National Open Data Policy. In addition, the agency has internal guidelines and strategies for opening data and disseminating information. Data on the portion of the population covered with an optical transport network (backhaul) are available for monitoring the Agency’s 2016-2019 Multi-Year Plan Goal (Ministry of Communications, 2021c). However, there is no open data on backhaul prices.

No, but there is the register of significant objects of critical information infrastructure of the Russian Federation in order to identify significant objects of critical information infrastructure of the Russian Federation in the course of intersectoral activities to identify significant objects of critical confidentiality information, the implementation of critical state control in the field of security of critical information in accordance with Federal Law of July 26, 2017 No 187 -FZ “On the security of critical information infrastructure of the Russian Federation”. Maintaining the Register of operations carried out to record, store and provide information in paper and electronic form on significant objects of critical confidential information. The register is formed and maintained by the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (Order of the FSTEC of Russia No. 227 of December 6, 2017).

There is no specific obligation relating to provision of open data on backhaul pricing. Neither is this data being voluntarily provided by service providers.

Article 25 of the Telecommunication Regulation of the People’s Republic of China (2016) states: The service providers shall, at the request of the competent department of information industry of the State Council and other telecommunications administrative authorities, provide complete and correct information and data on the cost of service they provide. Article 25 of the 2016 Telecommunication Regulation derived from Article 26 of the 2000 Telecommunication Regulation of the People’s Republic of China; in the 2016 version the sentence “The standard for fixed and guideline prices shall be formulated by holding hearings in which service providers, end-users and other sectors can exchange their opinion” was deleted, seemingly skipping the process of taking in opinions of service providers and users. (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016)

6. Does regulation foresee multiple categories of telecommunications services (e.g. Internet access, broadcasting)? Are information services distinguished between themselves (content creation and content distribution)?

The regulation provides for multiple categories of telecommunications network services, as well as the use of orbit and radio frequency spectrum resources. Each type of service will be the object of a separate concession or authorization, with a clear determination of the rights and duties of the telecom, users and the Agency. Telecommunications services are classified into services of collective interest and services of restricted interest. Services of restricted interest are subject to certain conditions so that exploration does not harm the collective interest. The legal regime for telecommunications services is classified as public and private. The public regime is the one provided by concession or permission, with attribution of universalization and continuity obligations to its provider. Exploration is allowed only under the private regime and subject to universalization duties.

The service modalities are defined by the Agency according to its purpose, scope of delivery, form, means of transmission, technology employed or other attributes. Information services are differentiated between: Multimedia Communication Service (SCM) and Personal Mobile Service (SMP). Within Anatel, the regulations are then organized into: SCM (Fixed Broadband), SMP (Mobile Telephony), STFC (Fixed Telephony) and SeAC (Pay TV Services) related to radio frequency and satellite, concession regulations, certification and inspection (ANATEL, n.d.d).

Yes, according to the article “29” of the Federal Law of 07.07.2003 No. 126-FZ (The law “On Communications”) and the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of December 30, 2020 No. 2385 (as amended on February 26, 2022) “On Licensing Activities in the Field of Provision of Communication Services and the Recognition of Certain Acts of the Government of the Russian Federation as invalid” together with the “Regulations on Licensing Activities in the Field of Provision of Communication Services”, the following 20 types of communication services and licenses corresponding to them have been established in Russia:

  1. Services of local telephone communication, with the exception of services of local telephone communication using payphones and means of collective access.
  2. Long-distance and international telephone communication services.
  3. Telephone services in a dedicated communication network.
  4. Services of intrazonal telephone communication.
  5. Services of local telephone communication using payphones.
  6. Services of local telephone communication using means of collective access.
  7. Telegraphic services.
  8. Communication services of a personal radio call.
  9. Services of mobile radio communication in the public communication network.
  10. Services of mobile radio communication in a dedicated communication network.
  11. Services of mobile radiotelephone communication.
  12. Services of mobile satellite radio communication.
  13. Communication services for the provision of communication channels.
  14. Communication services for data transmission, except for communication services for data transmission for the purpose of transmitting voice information.
  15. Communication services for the transmission of data for the purpose of transmission of voice information.
  16. Telematic communication services.
  17. Communication services for cable broadcasting purposes.
  18. Communication services for the purpose of broadcasting.
  19. Communication services for the purpose of wire radio broadcasting.
  20. Postal services.

Communication operator is a legal entity or individual entrepreneur providing telecommunication services on the basis of an appropriate license. Communication operator can be classified according to the type of service:

– Operator of universal communication services

– Satellite telephone operator

– Mobile operator

– Fixed-line operator

– Virtual mobile operator

– Internet service provider

An Internet service provider is a telecom operator licensed for one of the following types of services:

– Communication services for the provision of communication channels.

– Communication services in the data transmission network, except for the transmission of voice information.

– Communication services for the transmission of voice information in the data transmission network.

– Telematic communication services.

In 2013, the DoT adopted the universal license regime, which recognises the following categories of services: (i) access service, (ii) Internet service, (iii) national long distance service, (iv) international long distance service, (v) global mobile personal communication by satellite, (vi) public mobile radio trunk service, (vii) very small aperture terminal closed user group service, (viii) INSAAT MSS-reporting service, and (ix) resale of international private leased circuit service. A provider can apply for a license to carry out one or more of these services or apply for a universal licence, which covers access, Internet, national long distance and international private leased circuit services (Department of Telecommunications, 2016a). In 2016, the government also issued license guidelines for virtual network operators (VNOs), which refers to operators who rely on the network of other infrastructure providers for providing telecom services to end users/customers. There is also a separate registration framework for telecom infrastructure providers who provide dark fibre, right of way, and duct space on lease to licensed telecom operators.

The licensing of broadcasting services falls under the domain of the MIB. The MIB issues licenses/ permissions for the following categories of services: (i) direct-to-home (DTH) services, (ii) multi system operators (MSO), (iii) head-end in the sky (HITS) services, (iv) setting up of teleports by TV channels, (v) uplinking/ downlinking of TV channels from India, (vi) down linking of TV channels uplinked from abroad, and (vii) community radio stations (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, n. d.). All of these players perform different functions in the broadcasting system. DTH platforms distribute multi-channel TV programmes directly to the subscribers, MSOs downlink the signals from broadcasters and provide a bundled feed to the local cable operators, and HITS operators uplink TV broadcasts to a satellite, which is then downlinked by local cable operators and distributed to individual subscribers (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, 2017).

The licensing requirements do not extend to the creation of content although content creators do have to adhere to other applicable laws, such as criminal laws, IT Act, copyright laws, etc.  Further, television content is also regulated by the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995. This law provides for the registration of cable TV operators and requires that all such operators should act in accordance with the advertisement and programme code formulated under the law. These codes prohibit the carriage of programmes or advertisements that offend morality, are obscene or defamatory, contempt of court, affect integrity of the nation, denigrate women or children, etc (Dua & Dhwaj, 2016). In addition to this, there are a number of self regulatory initiatives by industry bodies such as the News Broadcasters Association, News Broadcasters Federation, Broadcasting Content Complaints Council, and Consumer Complaint Council (Agarwal, 2020). A group of leading online content providers also came together recently to adopt a self regulatory code for online media platforms (“Netflix, Amazon Prime”, 2020).

China has yet to have a set of a comprehensive telecommunication law, current telecommunication regulations reside on administrative laws and rules. The Telecommunication Regulation of the People’s Republic of China regulates the telecommunication market order, maintains service users and service providers’ legal interests, guarantees network and information safety, promotes the growth of telecommunication industry and so on (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016). The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued several administrative rules in accordance with the Telecommunication Regulation of the People’s Republic of China, including Measures for the Administration of Telecommunications Business Licensing, Measures for the Network Access Management of Telecommunication Equipment, Provisions on Protecting the Personal Information of Telecommunications and Internet Users, Provisions on the Registration of True Identity Information of Telephone Subscribers, Interim Measures for the Quality Supervision and Management of the Telecommunications Service; but as the telecommunication industry grows, the emergence of new technologies results in new challenges in cybersecurity, personal data protection, consumers’ protection, thus, law at the upper level of the legal hierarchy is needed, and was thus discussed in the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress. (Office of Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission/Cyberspace Administration of China [CAC], 2015)

There are two ways to distinguish information services, on one hand in a narrower sense,  information services are divided into content services, entertainment, business and locating information, and so on. Users of information services can be users of fixed communication, users of mobile communication, Internet users, or users of other data transmitting network; in this modality of distinguishing, information services are classified as one of the value-added business of telecommunications services; from the point of view of responsibilities of Ministry of Information Industry (superseded by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology), information services should not only include traditional telecommunications services, Internet, and software services, rather, they should also include radio and TV (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2015a). On the other hand, a broader sense of distinguishing information services is to divide them into categories such as production of electronic information equipment, distribution and renting of electronic information equipment, electronic information transmitting services, computer services, and other information related services according to the Interim Provisions on the Classification of Information Related Industries (unofficial translation)(统计上划分信息相关产业暂行规定); electronic information transmitting services, computer services, and other information related services are opposed to the general information services according to the Interim Provisions; from the perspective of business, information services include telecommunications related services, Internet information services, radio and TV transmitting services, satellite transmitting services, computer and software related services, news publishing related services, libraries and archives related services.

The Electronic Communications Act differentiates between broadcasting services, electronic communication network services and electronic communications services.

ICASA is the official regulator of the South African broadcasting, telecommunications and postal services sectors. In terms of telecommunications, ICASA’s main responsibilities relate to licensing, consumer protection and telecommunication numbering. In terms of regulations for the broadcasting industry, ICASA issues licences to service providers, plans and manages the radio frequency spectrum, and protects consumers against poor-quality services.

The Electronic Communications Act defines ‘‘electronic communications’’ as ‘the emission, transmission or reception of information, including without limitation, voice, sound, data, text, video, animation, visual images, moving images and pictures, signals or a combination thereof by means of magnetism, radio or other electromagnetic waves, optical, electromagnetic systems or any agency of a like nature, whether with or without the aid of tangible conduct, but does not include content service’.

ECT Act regulates the liability of information system service providers such as ISPs, and (clearly) distinguishes between the different roles played by content providers, content platforms and Internet Access Providers.

Based on these definitions, the ECTA states that an “information system service provider” is an intermediary and that an intermediary is neither a content provider nor a content consumer.

Section 70 of the ECT Act notes that, for the purposes of Chapter 11, a “service provider” means any person providing information system services.

‘information system services’ includes the provision of connections, the operation of facilities for information systems, the provision of access to information systems, the transmission or routing of data messages between or among points specified by a user and the processing and storage of data, at the individual request of the recipient of the service

“information system” means a system for generating, sending, receiving, storing, displaying or otherwise processing data messages and includes the Internet

7. Do the country’s national regulations recognize community operators and /or non-profit Telecommunications operators?

The Community Broadcasting Service (RadCom), instituted by law n° 9.612 in 1998, is characterized by frequency modulation, operates at low power and restricted coverage is regulated by concession. Thus, in Ordinance n° 1.909 and Ordinance n°1.976, new rules were established for the processing of concession requests and service provision, creating the National Concession Plan (Ministry of Science, Technology and Communications, n.d.). With the Plan, the award occurs through “selection notices”, and according to the ministerial criteria, the following are included: municipalities that have no authorized entity to perform the service; and municipalities where there is an expression of interest in the provision of services.

After the publication of the Plan with the schedule of notices, the public selection is forwarded, which is analyzed by the General Coordination of Community Broadcasting. During the selection, the Ministry advised the association of competing entities, if any, to jointly provide the service. The authorization for the operating license of the station is made in the Official Gazette of the Union and forwarded to the Presidency of the Republic and the National Congress. The concession of the Community Broadcasting Service lasts for ten years.

No. In accordance with Article 2 of the Federal Law “On Communications”, Russian legislation defines the following types of operators:

an operator occupying a significant position in a public communications network – an operator that, together with affiliated persons, has at least twenty-five percent of the installed capacity in a geographically defined numbering zone or throughout the territory of the Russian Federation or has the ability to pass at least twenty-five percent traffic;

communication operator – a legal entity or an individual entrepreneur providing communication services on the basis of an appropriate license;

universal service operator – a telecom operator that provides communication services in a public communication network and which, in the manner prescribed by this Federal Law, is entrusted with the obligation to provide universal communication services;

operator of obligatory publicly accessible TV channels and (or) radio channels – a communications operator that, on the basis of an agreement with a subscriber, provides communications services for the purposes of television broadcasting and (or) radio broadcasting (with the exception of communications services for the purposes of wired radio broadcasting) and, in accordance with this Federal Law, is obliged to carry out broadcasting of obligatory publicly available TV channels and (or) radio channels, the list of which is determined by the legislation of the Russian Federation on mass media.

While India’s licensing regime does not have a separate licensing process for community or non-profit telecom operators, in 2016 the government introduced a new category called virtual network operators (VNOs). These operators, which have to be set up as a company, are permitted to offer Internet services using another ISP’s network. Accordingly, a small business has the option to either obtain a Unified License to act as an ISP or apply for a VNO Unified License. However, it has been noted that there is some lack of clarity regarding whether VNOs are permitted to enter into agreements with more than one network operator. In a recommendation made to the DoT, TRAI suggested that the licence agreement should be clarified to state that there is no restriction on collaborating with multiple operators for the provision of Internet access services (TRAI, 2017b).

More generally, researchers have pointed to how the complexity of spectrum management processes, limited availability of unlicensed spectrum, and licensing requirements act as barriers in the development of community networks (Srivastava, 2017). In 2018, the DoT issued the NDCP, which refers to the need for reforms in the country’s licensing and regulatory regime to promote innovation, investments and ease of doing business. One of the components of this plan relates to the promotion of public Wi-Fi access through the creation of Public Data Office Aggregators and Public Data Offices (Department of Telecommunications, 2018a). This follows from a recommendation made by TRAI on this subject.

            In the case of the radio broadcasting sector, there is a specialised framework to govern community radio stations, which are seen as a mechanism for distribution of locally relevant content. As per the MIB’s guidelines, education institutions and non-profit organisations like civil society and voluntary organisations are among the entities that are permitted to operate such stations. In order to facilitate the growth of such stations, the government has a scheme for providing financial assistance to community radio stations and a Community Radio Facilitation Centre has also been set up to advise applicants through various stages of the licensing process (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, 2017). There are over 250 such radio stations operating in India.

Article 8 of the Regulation on Internet Information Service of the People’s Republic of China states: A non-profitable Internet information service provider shall file for record its activities at telecommunications administrative authorities of the provinces, autonomous regions and cities under the direct control of the Central Government or the Ministry of Information Technology (MII), and the following documents shall be submitted:

(1)  basic information of the service provider and the its person-in-charge;

(2)  the website address and services provided;

(3)  having obtained the approval of the competent industry authorities in case its service falls within the scope as provided in Article 5 (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2011).

Upon submitting all the above documents, it shall be recorded and given a file number.

In May 2018 South Africa became the first country in the continent to support community networks as a viable communication system provider. The minister of communications highlighted in a speech that the community ownership model advances components of the ICT Development Index and development goals.

Non-profit operators are recognized and mentioned in the Electronic Communications Act as eligible for license exemption.

8. Is there any obligation to share infrastructure: a. poles, cell phone towers, underground routes/tubes b. fiber optics sharing, telecommunication cables c. equipment sharing ?

According to the General Telecommunications Law n° 9.472 de 1997, Article 73, telecommunications service providers of collective interest will have the right to use poles, ducts, conduits and easements owned or controlled by a telecommunications service provider or other services of public interest, non-discriminatory and at fair and reasonable prices and conditions.

In 2017, Anatel instituted the Regulation for Sharing the Infrastructure to Support the Provision of Telecommunications Services, in compliance with the obligations provided for in Law n° 13.116 of 2015, organized so that the service holders provide information about the infrastructure, necessary to define the sharing or waiving the sharing of towers by providers. According to Anatel’s Infrastructure Sharing Manual (ANATEL, 2019), the holder must make available, through the Wholesale Supply Offering System, the georeferenced technical information of infrastructures available for sharing, and include the price composition criteria and the applicable terms. Through the system, the demanding groups connect to the groups with infrastructure.

The sharing of towers, specifically, by a telecommunications service provider that uses radio transmitting stations is mandatory in situations where the distance between them is less than 500 (five hundred) meters, except when there is a technical reason.

In addition, according to the Infrastructure Sharing Regulation, it is mandatory to share excess capacity, such as: fixed physical means, such as poles or towers, surface structure and suspended structures, as well as an unobstructed line of sight between transmitter and receiver; telecommunications networks in their operational set of circuits and equipment, for the transmission and other functions essential to the operation of telecommunication services. Holders have priority in the use of infrastructure.

There is no specific obligation to share fiber optics, however models of the FTTH type are increasingly used, and that is why it is essential to share the structure of poles with electricity distributors.

Until 2013, infrastructure sharing in Russia was limited to passive infrastructure sharing due to certain technical requirements set in the applicable regulation. Those limitations were lifted in 2013 and Russian telecoms operators have since been encouraged to share active and passive infrastructure. Amendments setting the terms of technical interconnection and the joint use of certain elements of infrastructure were introduced via a number of Ministry for Digital Development, Connection and Mass Communications orders between 2014 and 2016. The existing regulation allows for the joint ownership of frequencies and the joint certification of radio electronic equipment and high-frequency devices. However, in practice, major wireless operators are not usually eager to share infrastructure due to the fact that:

  1. their existing networks cover the same geographic territories; and
  2. operators are concerned about the risks of losing subscribers to competitors.

The only area that saw and will most likely see an increase in infrastructure sharing and joint effort is the development of next-generation, long-term evolution and 5G services. Due to the high forecasted costs required to set up these networks, most of which are used by the military at present, major operators are willing to join forces.

In addition to the above, under the Rules of Non-Discriminatory Access to Infrastructure adopted by Government Decree 1284 (2014), dated November 29 2014, natural monopolies in the telecoms industries must provide access to their infrastructure facilities by law.

India has adopted a voluntary framework for sharing of infrastructure among service providers. TSPs are permitted to share active as well as passive infrastructure among themselves based on mutual agreements. Further, the Infrastructure Provider Category-I (IPC-I) framework allows registered infrastructure providers to provide passive infrastructure, namely dark fibre, duct space, towers on lease, and right of way to multiple TSPs, on mutually agreed terms. The IPC-I providers are not permitted to possess  or share any active infrastructure as the possession of wireless telegraphy equipment requires a license under the Wireless Telegraphy Act. However, an IPC-I provider can install active infrastructure (limited to antenna, feeder cable, Node B, Radio Access Network (RAN) and transmission media) on behalf of TSPs, the ownership of which must vest in the TSP (TRAI, 2020b).

In a consultation paper issued in 2020, TRAI raised the issue of whether IPC-I providers should also be allowed to offer common sharable active infrastructure and which elements of active infrastructure this should include (TRAI, 2020b). Enhancing the scope of infrastructure providers to enable the deployment of common sharable infrastructure — both passive as well as active — was also among the strategies articulated by the government in the NDCP, 2018. In 2021, the government decided to amend the telecommunications license to adopt further liberalisation in the active sharing of infrastructure between telecommunication providers to also include infrastructure relating to the core network. In addition, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT ) were permitted to provide backhaul connectivity for cellular mobile services (“DoT amends norms”, 2021).

Urgent notice regarding co-location and sharing of the telecommunication infrastructure (unofficial translation) (关于推进电信基础设施共建共享的紧急通知) regulates obligations of sharing infrastructure,

(1)    Existing poles and towers have to be shared, those that aren’t capable of sharing should adopt measures such as technical upgrades. Owners of existing poles and towers should respond in 10 days and provide reasons if they are not able to share. It is forbidden to construct new towers and poles if the location already has existing towers and poles, construction needs to be approved by provincial coordinating body if there’s special needs to construct new poles and towers.

(2)    New poles and towers need to be co-built.

(3) Other infrastructures should be co-built and shared. Transmission line, including tubes, poles, fiber-optic cable, and base station should be co-built; existing base station infrastructure and transmission line should be shared with other telecommunication companies (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2008c).

Chapter 8 of the ECA read with the Electronic Communications Facilities Regulations 2010 obliges an ECNS licensee to lease a facility to another licensee / licence-exempt person on request subject to that request being commercially and technically feasible. ‘Electronic communications facilities’ defined in the act include:

a. masts (poles)

b. wires and cables (including fibre)

c. equipment which can be used for, or in connection with, electronic communications.

9. Is there any unbundling obligation? Can you be an Internet service provider and a content provider at the same time?

The provision of Internet connection services is not the same as the provision of telecommunications services, that is, the Internet is a Value-Added Service (VAS). As prescribed by the General Telecommunications Law and other Anatel regulations, interested parties are guaranteed the use of telecommunication service networks to provide added value services, provided that the regime is freely agreed, isonomic and non-discriminatory[1].

Faced with complaints from consumers about the recurrence of cases in which operators charge for value added services from telephone bills or internet access, Anatel instituted regulatory oversight as a management tool, and started promoting activities together with operators to maintain compliance with the rules. Among the actions to mitigate the problem, it was recommended that operators adopt a value-added service management system to allow better control over the contracting and collection of services. The mechanism should also allow consumers to consult collection entries[2].

[1] For more information, see Resolution n° 693 (2018) on Telecommunications Services Regulation .

[2] For more information about regulatory oversight and value-added services, see Ministry of Communications (2022e).

Under Ministry for Digital Development, Connection and Mass Communications Order No. 54, dated May 2 2006, operators that hold substantial positions in publicly available networks and operators of universal services and natural telecoms monopolies must keep separate accounts for:

a. different types of activity;

b. provided services; and

c. different sections of the telecoms network used for the provision of such services.

At present, India does not impose an unbundling obligation on service providers although it does create an enabling framework that allows for a certain level of segregation between different layers. Segregation between the infrastructure and network layers is made possible by the IPC-I category registration for stand-alone infrastructure providers. Similarly, the VNO license allows for the segregation of the network and service layers. In the NDCP, 2018, the DoT has referred to the unbundling of different layers (infrastructure, network, services and applications) through differential licensing as one of its strategies. In line with this, the DoT made a reference to TRAI and TRAI conducted a consultation on whether the licensing regime should allow for the separation of the network and service layers (TRAI, 2020c).

In August 2021, TRAI submitted its recommendation to the government on enabling unbundling of different layers through differential licensing (TRAI, 2021). It recommended creating a separate authorization for Access Network Providers—operators in the network layer that would provide network services on a wholesale basis to service delivery operators for retailing purposes.

There is no unbundling obligation, according to Article 6 of Measures for the Administration of Telecommunications Business Licensing (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2017a), an applicant for operating the value-added telecommunications business shall satisfy the following requirements:

(1) It is a legally formed company.

(2) It has the funds and professionals suitable for its business activities.

(3) It has the credibility for or capability of providing customers with long-term services.

(4) Its registered capital is 1 million yuan or more if it is to operate the business within a province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government; and its registered capital is 10 million yuan or more if it is to operate the business nationwide or across provinces, autonomous regions and/or municipalities directly under the Central Government.

(5) It has necessary sites, facilities and technical schemes.

(6) The company and its major investors and major business managers are not included in the list of enterprises with dishonest telecommunications business operations.

(7) Other requirements as prescribed by the state.

An example of an Internet service provider acting as a content provider is China Mobile. While being one of the three largest Internet service providers in China, China Mobile also launches a platform called Mobile Market, which provides users with software, music, games, videos, and comics through a multipurpose application market.[AM1]

Generally there is no unbundling obligation and an ISP can also act as a content provider. However, in the case of dominant operators, there are certain unbundling obligations. In the fixed line sector, Telkom was required to unbundle.

MTN, another incumbent, had started offering content service and even zero rated it. This move was challenged on anti-competition grounds.

One can say that there are constraints on major players who are also holders of Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) licences, however an ISP operator is only licensed by registration for Electronic Communications Service (ECS) licence, so formally they are not so regulated so there are no compulsory unbundling requirements.

10. Is there any obligation to treat Internet traffic in a non-discriminatory fashion (so called network neutrality principles)?

The General Telecommunications Law attributed to Anatel guarantees the universalization and continuity of service provision in the public regime, allowing access to any person or institution, regardless of location and socioeconomic status. Regarding the obligation of continuities, it says about the enjoyment of the service without unjustified stoppages. Still, universalization is a periodic goal of the agency’s strategic plan, emphasizing the service to the physically disabled, as well as rural, remote or precarious urban areas.

In addition, the obligation to treat Internet traffic in a non-discriminatory manner is ensured by Article 3 of the Marco Civil da Internet, Law n° 12.965, of 2014. Article 9 defines that isonomy in the transmission, switching or routing of data packets, without any distinction of content, origin, destination, service or applicability. However, traffic discrimination is possible only if it is a service provision requirement or as an emergency priority. Only in those situations can the operator  perform differential treatment, informing users and ensuring the transparency of conduct.

The exceptions were detailed in Decree nº 8.771 of 2016, of approval of the civil framework of the internet, stressing the permission only for the treatment of technical issues, such as network security, congestion or for the search for alternative solutions in cases of interruption of routes official, through transparency of the measures, in addition to the indication of the management measures in the contracts signed with the user, and wide dissemination of the practices. In the case of emergencies, communication must be made by those responsible to inform the situation of risk, calamity or disaster. The document emphasizes the veto to agreements that compromise the universalization and continuity of service provision[1].

[1] Cell phone and data plans, known as “zero plan” are controversial and impact net neutrality. The “zero-rating” offered by the operators is restricted to the use of certain applied, without discounting the contracted franchise. Some organizations critical of rights on the Internet, report that it is a form of positive discrimination and that it can cause imbalance in the market favoring the use of services and applications to the detriment of others. The business sector, on the other hand, argues that the practice does not violate the net neutrality.

Russian legislation contains no statutory requirements for net neutrality. However, the idea has been broadly discussed and is actively supported by the Federal Anti-monopoly Service. In 2016 the Federal Anti-monopoly Service published a basic document on net neutrality on its website, explaining the main principles and goals therein (Federal Anti-Monopoly Service [FAS], 2016). All major mobile operators (i.e., MTS, Vimpelcom (Beeline) and MegaFon) have expressed their support for the principle of net neutrality.

Despite the fact that the Federal Anti-monopoly Service continues promoting net neutrality and seems to have the support of the market representatives, in September 2018 the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Connection, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) expressed a view that the development of 5G networks and their use for telemedicine and remotely controlled vehicles would require prioritizing such traffic over others.  Furthermore, the association of major LTE operators (MTS, Vimpelcom (Beeline), MegaFon and Tele2) has also expressed (Meduza, 2018) concerns about net neutrality in connection with 5G services in the official letter addressed to the Russian Government in August 2018.

India has adopted one of the most robust net neutrality frameworks in the world. In February 2016, TRAI notified the Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations (TRAI, 2016). The Regulation prohibits TSPs from offering differential pricing for data services based on the type of content being accessed by the user, hence barring any form of zero-rating practices. This was followed by a consultation on the other key aspects of net neutrality, including practices like blocking, throttling and prioritisation of content. This resulted in a decision by the DoT to amend the telecom licenses in July, 2018, to adopt comprehensive net neutrality obligations (Department of Telecommunications, 2018d). As per this amendment, TSPs are prohibited from engaging in any discriminatory treatment of content, including based on the sender or receiver, the protocols being used or the user equipment. Further, TRAI has made recommendations to DoT on the creation of a multi-stakeholder body to advise the government on the enforcement of net neutrality requirements and on traffic management practices. However, the government is yet to take action upon this.

No, there’s no obligation to treat Internet traffic in a non-discriminatory fashion in China given the existence of the Great Fire Wall (Frisch, 2017).

There was an attempt to introduce net neutrality rules in the ICT Policy White Paper and the amendments to legislation that were meant to result.

The White Paper calls for net neutrality on all South African operators and service providers to “ensure that all lawful and legal Internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference”. The white paper, which is a precursor to legislation, said that ICASA will be required to hold an inquiry, in consultation with the competition authorities, into the extent to which regulatory intervention is required to uphold the principles of an open Internet. Among other things, the policy directs ICASA to consider if it will be necessary to introduce rules or guidelines on zero-rating, barring, throttling or paid prioritisation of traffic and, if so, what exclusions to this would be in the public interest (such as zero-rating of access to defined public interest content and services).

The objectives of the white paper based framework include promoting the Internet as a platform for freedom of expression, access to information, innovation and economic growth as well as protecting the rights of users to freely access legal content, applications and services on the Internet and barring intermediaries from unreasonably interfering with or in any way disadvantaging users’ access to the Internet.

However, probably due to the ECA amendment act being caught up with spectrum issues, there was no reference to the subject of net neutrality in the amendment bill.

11. Does the country have any specific legal or regulatory provisions regarding the Internet Access Providers’ possibility to monitor the content of user communications?

Monitoring the content of users’ communications is supported by the General Telecommunications Law and the General Personal Data Protection Law.

According to Article 72 of the General Telecommunications Law, the service provider will only use the information related to individual activities upon the express and specific consent of the user, justified only in the performance of his activity.

Russia adopted laws aimed at establishing additional measures to counter terrorism and ensure public safety. In the media, this package of laws was called the “Yarovaya package” or the “Yarovaya law”.

The expansion of the powers of law enforcement agencies lies in the fact that law enforcement agencies got the opportunity to request information from mobile operators (telephone conversation records, SMS messages, etc.) as part of the consideration of reports of crimes (Articles 2, 3, 4 of the Law N 374-FZ).

The organizer of the dissemination of information on the Internet is obliged to store on the territory of the Russian Federation information about the facts of reception, transmission, delivery and (or) processing of voice information, written text, images, sounds, video or other electronic messages of Internet users and information about these users in within one year from the end of the implementation of such actions.

From October 1, 2018, telecom operators are required to store text, voice, video and other user messages for 30 days. Further, the operator is obliged to increase the amount of storage by 15 percent per year (clause 6 of Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of April 12, 2018 N 445 “On approval of the Rules for the storage by telecom operators of text messages of users of communication services, voice information, images, sounds, video and other messages of users communication services”) (Bogodaeva, 2022)

The interception of telecommunication messages and Internet traffic is governed by the provisions of the Telegraph Act and the IT Act, respectively (The Telegraph Act, 1885, Section 5(2); IT Act, 2000, Section 69). In particular, Section 5 of the Telegraph Act and Section 69 of the IT Act and the rules made under them empower the government to order service providers to carry out the interception of messages and information on certain specified grounds. This can be done with the approval of the home secretary, and in some cases the joint secretary, both at the central and state government level. These provisions have been criticised for their failure to meet the standards laid down by the Supreme Court while upholding the right to privacy and petitions in this regard are currently pending before the Supreme Court (Bailey et al., 2018).

Further, the telecom licenses contain references to a Central Monitoring System (CMS), which is a centralised system to monitor communications on mobile phones, landlines and the internet in the country. As per the license agreement, each service provider is required to put in place dedicated infrastructure to connect its systems with the regional monitoring centres of the CMS.[1] This is meant to facilitate frictionless access to data by law enforcement agencies, which is supposed to be done while acting in accordance with the legal provisions referred to above.

[1] Condition 8.2, Part II of the Unified License Agreement (Department of Telecommunications, 2013).

Yes, there are regulations prohibiting monitoring, Article 8 of the China Internet Sector Self-Discipline Convention: Consciously safeguard the lawful rights and interests of consumers. Preserve users’ information and secrets; do not use information provided by users to engage in any activity that has no relationship with the commitments made to users, do not use technological or other superiority to infringe the lawful interests of consumers or users. (The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China, 2010) However, regulations for monitoring the content of user communications can be seen in administrative rules. Paragraph 7 of the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Preserving Computer Network Security mentioned: Any unit that engages in the computer network business shall carry out activities in accordance with law and, when it discovers illegal or criminal acts or harmful information on the computer network, shall take measures to suspend transmission of harmful information and report the matter to the relevant authority without delay (Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, 2000). Article 5 of the Administrative Measures for the Security Protection of Computer Information Networks Linked to the Internet started: No unit or individual shall use the international networking to produce, duplicate, search and disseminate the following information: (1) information that instigates the resistance and disruption of the implementation of the Constitution, laws and administrative regulations; (2) information that instigates the subversion of the state political power and overthrow of the socialist system; (3) information that instigates the splitting up of the country and sabotage of national unity; (4) information that instigates hatred and discrimination among nationalities and sabotages solidarity among nationalities; (5) information that fabricates or distorts facts, spreads rumours and disrupts social order; (6) information that propagates feudalistic superstitious, obscenity, pornographic, gambling, violence, murder and terror and instigates crimes; (7) information that openly insults others or fabricates facts to slander others; (8) information that damages the reputation of state organs; and(9) other information that violates the Constitution, laws and administrative regulations (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 1997a).

According to the ECTA, there is no general obligation to monitor.

When providing the electronic communication services there is no general obligation on a service provider to monitor the data which it transmits or stores, or actively seek facts or circumstances indicating an unlawful activity.

The Minister may, subject to section 14 of the Constitution, prescribe procedures for service providers to:

(a) inform the competent public authorities of alleged illegal activities undertaken, or information provided by the recipients of their service

(b) to communicate to the competent authorities, at their request, information for enabling the identification of recipients of their service.

The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of communication-related Information Act 70 of 2002) Rica Act regulates the interception and monitoring of direct and indirect communications. RICA contains exceptions relating to where interception and monitoring takes place with the consent of the parties involved, or where it is carried out by law enforcement personnel. In September 2019, the High Court declared a number of sections of South Africa’s interception law unconstitutional.

While a service provider is under no obligation to monitor the data which it transmits or stores or to seek out facts or circumstances which indicate an unlawful activity, once it becomes aware of such facts or circumstances it is obligated to respond thereto with reasonable expediency.

12. Does the country have any specific legal or regulatory provisions regarding the Internet Access Providers’ possibility to collect and process user personal data?

According to the General Telecommunications Law, the service provider may use information regarding the individual use of the service by the user. The provider may disclose only aggregated information to third parties, in order to avoid user identification or violation of privacy.

The General Law on Protection of Personal Data reiterates the specific consent on the collection and use of sensitive data, informed and expressed by the data subject, as fulfillment of legal duty, expressed in the contractual obligations, to guarantee the protection of the privacy and physical integrity of the data owner or third party. Consent is dispensed when the processing of data is imperative for the fulfillment of legal duty, sharing of data aiming at the implementation of public policies with legal support, carrying out studies by guaranteeing anonymity whenever possible. The end of the processing of personal data will occur when the processing expires, when the data subject requests the end of the processing, the purpose of the use of data is reached and verified or by judicial decision.

Therefore, the collection of data from users of telecommunications services is a measure that requires transparency, alignment with legal bases, and the monitoring of a National Data Protection Authority (provided for in art. 55-A of the referred law) to inspect and control data processing, since the information cannot serve other purposes.

The telecom operator is obliged to terminate, under certain conditions, the service of the subscriber if, within the prescribed period, the discrepancy between the personal data of the actual users and the information stated in the subscription agreements is confirmed (Article 13 of Law N 374-FZ). Failure to comply with this requirement entails liability in accordance with Art. 13.34 Administrative Code of the Russian Federation.

According to the Sovereign Internet law, telecom operators are required to install state equipment at traffic exchange points for analyzing and filtering traffic (Deep Packet Inspection; DPI) within the country and communication lines crossing the Russian border ( Federal Law No. 90-FZ of May 1, 2019).

Section 43A of the IT Act, requires all body corporates to maintain reasonable security practices while dealing with sensitive personal data of individuals. This provision is applicable to all body corporates, which also includes TSPs and ISPs. As per the rules made under this section, the processing of data can only take place with the informed consent of the individual; the use of the data is subject to collection and purpose limitations and adherence to specified security practices (Government of India, 2011). Further, the Unified License (and other categories of licenses) also contain provisions relating to the confidentiality and privacy of user information. These include the requirement to protect the privacy of communications, ensure that unauthorised interception does not take place, and maintain security conditions to protect privacy.[1]

[1] Conditions 37 & 39, Part I, Unified License (Department of Telecommunications, n. d.d). 

General regulations of data protection: In 2012, Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Strengthening Information Protection on Networks (The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China & Xinhua News Agency, 2012), laying down rules of personal data collection and usage; in 2013 the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests was amended to add regulations regarding consumers’ data protection; sector 17 of the 2015 Amendment of criminal law of the people’s Republic of China (nine) adds provisions on the illegal sale or provision of a citizen’s personal information and provides the punishment for committing or facilitating such crimes (Order nº 30 by the President of the People’s Republic of China, 2015); the 2016 Cybersecurity Law not only further regulates the collection and usage of personal data, but also clarified obligations and responsibilities of network operators regarding personal data security; during the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National People’s Congress in 2017, personal data has been listed as one of the civil rights under the protection of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese Civil Code and the PIPL were enacted in 2020 and 2021 respectively to establish the core framework of personal data protection.

Data protection on telecommunication: Provisions on Protecting the Personal Information of Telecommunications and Internet Users is the regulation that oversees data protection in telecommunications. The provision was issued in 2013 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology due to the rapid development of telecommunications and internet, also issues like leaks of personal data spurred the legislation of personal data protection (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2013a). The provision can further perfect telecommunications and Internet personal data protection by regulating the collection and usage of users’ personal data when Internet information service providers fail to do so. The issuing of the provision is also implementing the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Strengthening Information Protection on Networks (The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China & Xinhua News Agency, 2012), further making clear the rules of personal data usage and collection of telecommunication operators and Internet information service providers.

South Africa’s data protection law, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) is an all-inclusive piece of legislation that safeguards the integrity and sensitivity of private information. Entities operating in sectors that require them to handle personal particulars – including telecommunications and accordingly, ISPs – are required to carefully manage the data capture and storage process. Companies also have to get permission to keep data, and disclose the reason that they need it.

POPI establishes eight conditions, which need to be met in order for the processing of personal data to be lawful. These conditions include: accountability, processing limitation, purpose specification, further processing limitation, information quality, openness, security safeguards, and data subject participation.

13. Does the country require a license to operate telecommunications networks? Is there any license exemption?

The country requires a license for the multimedia communication service, which aims to standardize telecommunications companies and internet providers. The request is made through a process that is managed by the Anatel Station Concession and Licensing Management.

According to the regulation of the multimedia communication service[1], the request for the issuance of a License through the Mosaic system of Anatel. Licensing is a title of charge, and allows the provision of transmission capacity, internet connection, reception and emission of multimedia service.

Therefore, there are three types of license that differ in: multimedia communication service license to be taken to become an internet provider, as it allows the provision of an internet connection; the Fixed Switched Telephone Service is the second fixed switched telephone service license to provide the Tripple Play service, through the transmission of voice and other signals, intended for communication between certain fixed points; and the conditional access service license, when working with multimedia kits, an additional package, among other services, such as the TV offer. After the payment of fees, authorization goes through the evaluation of the Superintendent of Concession and Installment Resources, and then it is published in the Federal Official Gazette. To issue the license, it is necessary to register the authorized and responsible stations so that the licensing is carried out. Companies with less than 5,000 users in service and who make exclusive use of radiocommunication equipment with restricted or confined radiation are exempt from authorization of the multimedia communication service, according to Resolution n° 680 of 2017.

[1] Resolution N°614 of the Board of Directors of the National Telecommunications Agency (2013).

As regards the telecommunication sector, further to the Federal Law No. 126-FZ (the law on Communications), a licence is a necessary prerequisite for providing telecommunication services in Russia. Operators provide telecoms services in Russia under Government Decree, dated December 30, 2020 No. 2385 (as amended on February 26, 2022) “On Licensing Activities in the Field of Provision of Communication Services and the Recognition of Certain Acts of the Government of the Russian Federation as invalid” together with the “Regulations on Licensing Activities in the Field of Provision of Communication Services”, on the basis of telecoms licences for the relevant type of service. The communication service licences must be obtained by communication service providers wishing to conduct business in Russia. Telecoms licence terms are determined and licences are issued by Roskomnadzor; licences can be issued for a period between three years and 25 years (Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 2385 of December 30, 2020). Please refer to the question No. 6 for the list of the licensed activities.

Telecoms licences are issued under the Federal Law No. 126-FZ (the law on Communications) in accordance with the licensing requirements under abovementioned Government Decree 2385. Licences are issued on a per territory basis and operators that provide a variety of services must hold relevant licences for all services and regions in which they provide services, which can sometimes number hundreds of licences.

The listed titles are not clearly defined or exhaustively described in the Government Decree 2385 or any other regulations. In practice, this sometimes makes it difficult to reach a clear conclusion on whether a certain business activity falls under any type of licensable service (usually a Russian telecoms consultant is engaged for such purposes).

Any operation of telecommunication networks can be done only after obtaining a license from the government. Please see response to questions 2, 3 and 6 of this section for details of the licensing framework.

Yes, operating telecommunications networks in China requires a license according to the Measures for the Administration of Telecommunications Business Licensing (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2017a) issued in 2017 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the license, according to the Telecommunication Regulation of the People’s Republic of China 2016, shall use the method of tender when granting.[1] There is no exemption of the licensing.

[1] Article 12 of the Telecommunication Regulation of the People’s Republic of China (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016)

ICASA’s mandate is to grant licences to operators and service providers. This includes registration, transfer and granting of service licences and licence exemption. As a general rule a licence or licence exemption is required whenever communications are carried from one point to another. Licenses exist to make sure that scarce resources like numbers or frequencies are efficiently allocated, but also to protect consumers when dealing with service providers.

In South Africa there are two categories of licenses regarding electronic communications:

  • Electronic Communications Service (ECS) licences to provide services to customers (such as the provision of voice and data services) either over its own or over another licensee’s network. Example: ISP that uses someone else’s infrastructure.
  • Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) licences which allow the holder to establish, roll out and operate a physical network, based on any technology like radio equipment for wireless networks, copper or fibre cable. ECNS licensees are also able to enter into commercial arrangements with other ECNS licensees, so that they can benefit from and use each other’s network infrastructure.

At the same time, both ECS and ECNS can be either Individual or Class. Individual ones are national in scope and Class licenses are regional, e.g. District Municipality.

Besides the general annual license fee, the USAF Regulations require licensees to pay an annual contribution of 0.2% of annual turnover. (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), 2018)

14. Does the country offer a specific/simplified license for not-for-profit operators or for operators that cover specific areas (e.g. rural areas)?

The provision of the telecommunication service in rural and remote areas is supported by the General Plan of Goals for Universalization in the public regime, governed by Resolution n° 622, of August 23, 2013.

The service to the rural area, specific areas such as rural public schools, or even remote areas is included under the terms of Bidding Notice n° 004 of 2012 / PVCP / SPV by Anatel, which establishes several commitments to the telecommunications service providers winners in terms of the reach of remote regions, with the purpose of allowing digital and social inclusion of the Brazilian population.

Operators are obliged to progressively expand telecommunications services at affordable prices, whether for voice and data connections, including a distance of up to 30 kilometers from the limits of the municipal headquarters. Service coverage for rural public schools should be free of charge. Connections must have at least a 256 kbps download rate and 128 kbps upload rate in remote areas, and a 1 Mbps download rate and 256 kbps upload rate in rural schools.

No. Russia provides for licensing according to the types of activities indicated in question 6, and not depending on the volume of services provided or their zero price.

A telecom operator can choose to provide its services at the national level, at the level of telecom circle/ metro area (India is divided into 22 such circles) or at the level of the secondary switching area, which refers to a subdivision of a telecom circle. An ISP that only wants to serve a smaller local area, which could be up to four secondary switching areas, can apply for a Category “C” ISP license. The financial requirements for applying for this type of license, in terms of the entry fees, bank guarantees and application processing fees, are significantly lower compared to other categories of licenses. This is also the case with VNO licenses. However, there is no special category of licenses that applies specifically to rural areas.


There are certain conditions under which one can get a license exemption.

One can be exempted from holding an ECS license if:

  • A person or company who provides services does that on a non-profit basis.
  • In case of a reseller who provides services on behalf of another licensee.
  • In case of an ancillary service which includes elements of electronic communications service, but these elements do not constitute its major purpose, for example tracking, alarm and similar services. → they all use electronic communications in a way but that’s not their primary purpose

One can be exempted from an ECNS license if:

  • It is a Small Electronic Communications Network (SECN) , or a network that lies within a limited area, and is used by a specific user group (must use frequencies which are licence exempt).
  • A Private Electronic Communications Network (PECN) is a network used primarily for providing electronic communications for the owner’s own use. Where a PECN resells, leases or otherwise makes available any spare capacity on its network to a third party, such resale, lease or other provisioning of spare capacity is subject to additional regulations.

15. Does the country require a license to provide satellite telecommunications services including via non-geostationary orbit satellites?

The satellite telecommunication service is considered a limited private service, of restricted interest, operated at the national and international level, which covers multiple applications, such as the transmission of scientific data, aid to meteorology, operation and space research, regulated by Resolution n° 617 of 2013.

To exploit satellite telecommunications services, it is necessary to obtain two types of authorization from Anatel. First, the right to explore the satellite depends on authorization through public notice and private limited service; second, the authorization of radio frequency associated with the radiocommunication satellite service is necessary, when there is communication with an earth station in the national territory.

The right to exploit the Brazilian satellite, which is made through a bidding notice for a period of 15 years, which can be extended only once for the same period, in orbital positions that are in the process of coordination or notification on behalf of Brazil or resulting from coordination processes with the International Telecommunication Union.

The global mobile service by non-geostationary satellite is governed by Rule n° 16 of 1997 and follows the same prerogatives as the global mobile service by satellite, when requesting exploration, to request, license and concessions. In the case of a foreign company, it is necessary to present a Brazilian legal representative.

Yes, the Russian Federation requires a license to provide mobile satellite services as per Communication Law and, more specifically, Regulation of the Russian Government No. 87 dated 18 February 2005. Including via non-geostationary orbit satellites in accordance with the Order by the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications of Russian Federation (No. 99 dated August 22, 2007) On approval of the Rules for the application of earth stations in satellite communications and broadcasting of the unified telecommunication network of the Russian Federation (as amended on June 15, 2015).

India’s Department of Space is the administrative ministry responsible for the overall regulation of space activities. The provision of satellite communications services requires authorisation from the Department of Space along with separate licenses to be issued by the DoT and MIB for telecommunication and broadcasting services, respectively. The activities for which an authorisation is required from the Department of Space include the establishment of communications systems over India, using Indian or non-Indian orbital resources, establishment and utilisation of non-geostationary orbit satellite communication systems, and establishment of ground segments for space asset operations (Department of Space, 2020).

Yes, Article 5 Paragraph 2 of the Administrative Provisions on the Establishment of Satellite Communication Networks as Well as the Setup and Use of Earth Stations states: the domestic space station to be used has been approved by the MIIT and for which a wireless station license has been obtained. While Article 3 states that “The state applies the licensing system to the establishment of satellite communication networks. The establishment of satellite communication networks shall be subject to the approval of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as “MIIT”). No entity or individual may establish any satellite communication network without approval” (Order n°7 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China, 2009). Also, the Service Guide to the approval of the Establishment of Satellite Communication Networks as Well as the Setup and Use of Earth Stations (unofficial translation) Paragraph 16 mentions that the approval of establishment of a satellite communication network will be a permit or approval document for the use of radio frequencies (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2012).

According to the Electronic Communications Act, satellite systems are considered electronic communication networks, hence the standard license rules apply

16. Has the country established an obligation to provide coverage in specific areas (e.g. rural areas that lack coverage)?

The obligation to provide coverage in specific areas is based on the General Plan of Goals for the Universalization of the Switched Fixed Telephone Service provided in the Public Regime[1]. For the purposes of the plan, universalization is understood as the right of access, regardless of location and socioeconomic condition, to essential services of public interest, upon payment of a tariff established by specific regulation. Costs for meeting targets are borne by the responsible concessionaires.

Regarding coverage in specific areas, it was defined by the type of access, they are: indigenous village, rural area outside the scope of the basic tariff, settlements of rural workers, subscribers participating in low-income programs, remaining quilombo communities, and conservation units in sustainable use, among others.

Concerning the goals of individual and collective access, for locations with more than three hundred inhabitants, or for serving commercial and educational establishments, concessionaires must implement the service within a period determined by regulation. Regarding the access targets for special classes, such as rural areas, they must offer access and guarantee technical and economic viability in accordance with Resolution n° 622 of 2013, which establishes the conditions for connection and speed.

[1] Decree nº 9.619 of 2018 revoked the General Plan of Goals for the Universalization of the Switched Fixed Telephone Service provided in the Public Regime – PGMU, approved by Decree nº 7.512, of June 30, 2011.

The principle of universal access to communication services was incorporated in the Russian legislation, namely, in the Communication Law, in 2003. Encouraging universal access to communication services is one of the paramount priorities of the government’s policy in the TMT area, and is mainly aimed at ensuring access to communication services in rural areas and hard-to-reach regions of Russia (which are quite numerous due to the vastness of the Russian territory).

Currently, in terms of the Communication Law, universal service includes the following types of telecommunication services:

  • telephone services accessible via public payphones (coin stations) or interactive kiosks, which should be available in all residential areas all for all residents within a maximum one-hour walking distance;
  • data transfer services and access to the internet via public access points ensuring internet access (at 10Mbit/s speed) in all residential areas with more than 250 inhabitants (project on ‘bridging the digital divide’).

One of the biggest Russian telecoms operators, JSC ‘Rostelecom’, is in charge of the project aiming at ensuring universal access to the communication services, which is currently ongoing.

It is also important that all Russian communication services providers are obliged to pay contributions to the Universal Service Fund – a specific fund established for the purpose of financing universal communication services.

The roll out obligations imposed on telecom licensees and mandatory requirement of  contribution towards the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) are two of the ways in which the regulatory framework seeks to secure the coverage of rural and remote areas. The allocation of spectrum bands to TSPs is accompanied by specified minimum roll-out obligations, which determine the schedule of deployment required to be followed by the TSP across different areas. These requirements tend to vary across different technologies and bands (Jain & Dara, 2017). For instance, the allotment of the 2100MHz spectrum in 2010 was based on the condition that the provider had to roll out to 50 per cent of the District headquarters, of which, 15 per cent should be in rural areas. Subsequently, in the allotment of 700Mhz spectrum in 2016 the conditions stated that the operators would have to cover all towns and villages having a specified population within 5 years and all villages with a specified population by 7 years (Jain & Dara, 2017).[1] Details of the USOF are discussed in response to question 1 of the Financial Resources section.

[1] The 700Mhz spectrum, however, did not see any takers in this auction.

There is no obligation in doing so, but it is encouraged for telecommunication operators to provide better rates for users in rural areas or underprivileged users according to the Noticeof the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Further Regulating Activities to Market Telecommunications Tariff Schemes (unofficial translation) (工业和信息化部关于进一步规范电信资费营销行为的通知) (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2018).

Yes. According to the Electronic Communications Act the money in the Universal Service and Access Fund must be utilised exclusively for the payment of subsidies to any electronic communications network service licensee for the purpose of financing the construction or extension of electronic communications networks in underserviced areas, where these geographical areas are defined by ICASA.

17. Are there any specific cybersecurity obligations with regard to the telecommunications sector?

The Decree nº 10.222, of February 2020, instituted the National Cybersecurity Strategy, defines measures for the protection of cyberspace and national security, such as technical monitoring in the face of technological changes. In addition, Normative Instruction n° 4, 2020, established the minimum requirements for Cybersecurity that must be adopted in the establishment of 5G networks.

Anatel’s Regulatory Agenda 2019-2020[1], item 7, promotes the elaboration of analyzes and studies on the regulation related to the protection and security measures of the networks and services of telecommunications operators. To support the reassessment, Public Consultation n° 13 of 2020 (ANATEL, n.d.f) was held on the minimum requirements for cybersecurity of terminal equipment that connect to the internet and infrastructure equipment for telecommunications networks.

In addition, since 2017, the Safer Internet Program (Portal for Good Internet Practices in Brazil [BCP], n.d.), created by the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil with the support of SindiTelebrasil (National Union of Telecommunications Companies), associations of companies and Internet access providers, and partnership with Internet Society, started to develop programs to support the technical community of the Internet, with the objective of reducing attacks on services originating in the country, such as leaking routes and falsifying addresses. It also acts to bring together teams that support network security and stability among operators.

[1] The Regulatory Agenda was established by Ordinance No. 542 of 2019 of ANATEL’s Board of Directors.

Federal Law No. 187-FZ dated July 26, 2017 “On the Security of the Russian Federation’s Critical Data Infrastructure” (2017), which introduces requirements for infrastructure security (the “CDI Law”).

The law sets out the basic principles for ensuring the security of critical information infrastructure, the powers of the state bodies of Russia to ensure the security of the critical information infrastructure, as well as the rights, obligations and responsibilities of persons holding rights of ownership or other legal rights to the facilities for critical information infrastructure, communications providers and information systems providing interaction with these facilities.

The elements of the critical information infrastructure are understood to be information systems, telecommunication networks of state authorities as well as such systems and networks for the management of technological processes that are used in state defence, healthcare, transport, communication, finance, energy, fuel, nuclear, aerospace, mining, metalworking and chemical industries. All these industries are considered critical for the economy and should be protected against any cyberthreats. The law requires such industries to implement protection measures, assign the category of protection (in accordance with the statutes) and then register with FSTEK (2022), which is now the supervisory authority in this field.
            The Sovereign Internet Law was adopted (Federal Law No. 90-FZ ‘On Amendments into the Communication Law and the Information Law’) in May 2019 and on 1 November 2019 the majority of its provisions came into force in Russia. The main purpose of the Sovereign Internet Law is to create an autonomous system that can support the operation of the Russian segment of the internet in the event of disconnection from the global network.

The Sovereign Internet Law imposes a number of obligations on certain categories of persons (communication service providers, owners of various communication networks’ infrastructure as well as information dissemination organisers (e.g., social networks, mail services), as well as establishing a specific register of internet exchange points (‘register’). The obligations imposed include:

  • providing certain information to Roskomnadzor, information on the purpose of using a communication line that crosses the Russian border, and the means of communication installed on it;
  • participating in drills arranged by Roskomnadzor;
  • restricting interaction between networks (e.g., by allowing only the use of the internet exchange points listed in the register) and prohibiting owners of internet exchange points from connecting communication networks to internet exchange points when such networks fail to comply with the requirements of the law; and
  • installing hardware and software tools that enable Roskomnadzor to monitor traffic, including access to resources blocked in Russia.

The license conditions specify various security related requirements to be followed by TSPs.[1] These requirements include the need to have an organisational policy on security and security management, conduct of regular security audits, deployment of only certified equipment, and creation of facilities for monitoring any intrusions, attacks and frauds on technical facilities. In the event that an operator fails to adopt such measures, leading to a security breach, it would be liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs. 500 million. In addition to this, the TSP is also bound by the general cyber security or negligence related provisions under other laws such as the Telegraph Act, the IT Act and criminal laws. For instance, Section 69B of the IT Act provides that every intermediary, which includes TSPs, has to provide technical assistance to an authorised government agency for monitoring and collecting traffic data or information in order to enhance cyber security or deal with any computer contaminant in the country.

[1] Condition 39, Part I, Unified License (Department of Telecommunications, n. d.d)

The 2017 Cybersecurity Law Article 21 states: The state shall implement the rules for graded protection of cybersecurity. Network operators shall, according to the requirements of the rules for graded protection of cybersecurity, fulfill the following security protection obligations, so as to ensure that the network is free from interference, damage or unauthorized access, and prevent network data from being divulged, stolen or falsified.

(1) Developing internal security management rules and operating procedures, determining the persons in charge of cybersecurity, and carrying out the responsibility for cybersecurity protection.

(2) Taking technical measures to prevent computer viruses, network attack, network intrusion and other acts endangering cybersecurity.

(3) Taking technical measures to monitor and record the status of network operation and cybersecurity incidents, and preserving relevant weblogs for not less than six months as required.

(4) Taking measures such as data categorization, and back-up and encryption of important data.

(5) Performing other obligations as prescribed by laws and administrative regulations.

In light of Article 21, Ministry of Public Security issued the Notice of the Cyberspace Administration of China on Regulations on the Classified Protection of Cybersecurity (Consultation Paper) (unofficial translation) (CAC, 2021a) to further implement the protection of cybersecurity.

The 2021 Cybersecurity Review Measures aims to enhance the secure and controllable level of critical information infrastructure and safeguard national security; the regulation regulates the purchase of network products and services by critical information infrastructure, which affects or may affect national security.

The previous version of 2020 Cybersecurity Review Measures was revised in 2021, most notably was the addition of the provision “Article 7: Online platform operators holding the personal information of more than 1 million users and newly listing on foreign markets must report for cybersecurity review with the Cybersecurity Review Office.” (CAC et al., 2022).

The Cybercrimes Bill will place obligations on electronic communication service providers (which includes any entity or person who is declared by the Ministry of State to own or control a critical information infrastructure) which become aware that its electronic communication network is being used to commit an offence to immediately report the matter in the prescribed manner to the South African Police Services and preserve all information/ evidence that will be relevant to the investigation of the offence.

18. is there any regulation regarding cybersecurity incidents?

According to the National Cybersecurity Strategy, public administration bodies and entities are responsible for implementing strategic actions planned to format a national cybersecurity system. According to the regulation, the Institutional Security Office of the Presidency of the Republic is responsible for coordinating cybersecurity, in line with cyber defense under the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense.

It is the responsibility of the Government Cyber ​​Treatment and Response Center – CTIR Gov, to improve the response to cyber incidents with an emphasis on emerging technologies, issuing alerts and recommendations, and the participation of critical infrastructures in cyber exercises.

The strategy is expected to improve the legal framework on cybersecurity, preventing and mitigating threats, through the management of computational incidents, detection, screening, analysis and response. For this, public and private organizations must have a treatment and response team (Computer Security Incident Response Team). Currently, Brazil has about eight centers for treatment and response to cyber incidents. The country also has two treatment and response centers under national responsibility, the Center for Studies, Response and Treatment of Security Incidents in Brazil –, more focused on commercial networks and private institutions. With a similar assignment, but focused on government networks, there is the Center for Treatment and Response to Cyber ​​Government Incidents – CTIR Gov35.

Normative Instruction n° 4, of March 2020, defined the basic cyber security requirements that must be adopted in the establishment of 5G mobile phone networks. The established requirements seek to increase the protection of society and national institutions, in view of the possibility of vulnerabilities and backdoors within 5G technology systems.

There is a reinforcement of the General Law on Protection of Personal Data, which provides that those who deal with private data adopt security measures against unauthorized access and accidental loss, destruction, modification or any other type of violation. The National Authority for the Protection of Personal Data has technical and decision-making autonomy to supervise and develop guidelines and norms related to the protection, collection, use, storage, and distribution of personal data of Brazilian citizens.

Anatel’s Regulatory Agenda 2019-2020 provides for the regulation of aspects associated with network security and the provision of services, addressing the general aspects associated with cyber security within the scope of telecommunications networks[1].

[1] The current regulatory agenda underwent some changes by order of the council and also, to ensure the maintenance of the actions of the previous agenda. The current Agenda now has 48 initiatives, 16 of which are new initiatives and 32 are continuations of the Agenda from the previous biennium (Ministry of Communications, 2022d).

As a result of possible computer attacks, a special law was adopted that deals with specific measures and requirements to be implemented and adopted to ensure the safety of the critical information infrastructure (Federal Law No. 187-FZ ‘On the Safety of Critical Information Infrastructure’, dated 26 July 2017). Although the practical application of this new Law is still not fully clear, the general idea behind it is that all critical infrastructure objects will be categorised depending on their economic, political and social importance (that is, there will be three categories of importance). Depending on the relevant category of importance, specific rules and requirements will apply with respect to security measures to be implemented.

The responsibility of cyber incident response in the country vests with CERT-In. As per the provisions of the IT Act and rules formulated under it, CERT-In is supposed to act as the trusted referral agency responding to cyber security incidents and adopting measures to reduce their risk, including through audits, awareness and training initiatives (Information Technology (The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team and Manner of Performing Functions and Duties) Rules, 2013). In 2018, there were reports of the creation of a sector-specific CERT for the telecommunications sector (Kala, 2018). However, as of now, no formal steps are known to have been taken in this regard.

CERT-In is supposed to exchange relevant information relating to attacks, vulnerabilities and solutions affecting critical sectors with the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC). The NCIIPC is a statutory body created under the IT Act for undertaking measures for the protection of critical sectors the disruption of which would result in debilitating impact on the national security, governance, economy and social well-being of the nation (IT Act, 2000, Section 70). The telecom sector has been designated as a critical information infrastructure by the NCIIPC. The prescribed rules for designated protected systems include requirements for the constitution of an Information Security Steering Committee to approve the system’s information security policies and carrying out a vulnerability/ threat/ risk analysis of its cyber security architecture (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 2018).

National Contingency Plans for Cyber Security Incidents oversees cybersecurity incidents. The regulation aims to establish a healthy national cybersecurity contingency system, to strengthen the ability to cope with cybersecurity incidents, to prevent and decrease losses of cybersecurity incidents, and to protect public interests, national security, public safety, and social order. Each provinces’ (including districts and cities) sectors should notify relating units and report the possible cybersecurity incidents when deemed necessary while monitoring and analyzing information; the early warning includes types of incidents, level of the warning, starting time, possible affecting scope, responds to be taken and so on (CAC, 2017b).

According to the POPI Act, the responsible party is required to take appropriate technical and organisational measures to prevent unlawful access to personal information in its possession or control. This includes the obligations to take measures to monitor, detect, prevent or mitigate incidents.

19. Does the law foresee any specific cybercrime involving the (mis)use or the attack of the telecommunications infrastructure?

The normative dimension of cybercrimes in the country results in a set of important laws, such as the Marco Civil da Internet, the General Law for the Protection of Personal Data, the Cyber ​​Crimes Law and Law n° 12.735 that creates police stations specialized in combating digital crimes. This framework has been reinforced by policies and strategies, such as the National Cybersecurity Strategy and the National Critical Infrastructure Security Policy.

However, according to the analysis of the National Security Strategy (Item 2.1), the normative dimension is insufficient and requires a national effort, given the nature of the instruments that are restricted to the Federal Public Administration, not considering the productive sector and service providers. such as telecommunications. Therefore, it is recommended to improve national cybersecurity laws.

Normative Instruction n° 4 of 2020, which defines the minimum cybersecurity requirements, includes confidentiality and liability, requiring service providers to implement malicious packet detection functions to minimize the effect of attacks and identify abnormal patterns in traffic on 5G networks. According to Article. 5, the infrastructure equipment is open to auditing and processes. In the case of failures, intentional or not, that compromise personal data, the company and the subcontracting concessionaires will respond according to their responsibilities.

It is important to note that the National Policy for the Safety of Critical Infrastructures, established an Integrated Data System to enable the continuity of the provision of its services, through prevention and precaution, reflecting the need to adopt security procedures in all aspects, including cyber.

The Law No. 187-FZ dated July 26, 2017 “On the Security of the Russian Federation’s Critical Data Infrastructure” foresees attacks on critical data infrastructure.
As a result of possible computer attacks, this law was adopted that deals with specific measures and requirements to be implemented and adopted to ensure the safety of the critical information infrastructure. Although the practical application of this Law is still not fully clear, the general idea behind it is that all critical infrastructure objects will be categorised depending on their economic, political and social importance (that is, there will be three categories of importance). Depending on the relevant category of importance, specific rules and requirements will apply with respect to security measures to be implemented.

As noted above, the telecommunications sector has been designated as a critical information infrastructure. As per Section 70(3) of the IT Act, any person who secures access or attempts to secure access to a protected system in contravention of the provisions of the law may be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years and would also be liable for a fine. This is in addition to the general provisions relating to designation of cyber crimes under the IT Act, which cover any unauthorised access to a computer, computer system or network, concealing or tampering with computer source documents, and indulging in cyber terrorism. The Telegraph Act also makes it an offence to trespass into or obstruct the signal room or office of a telegraph operator, and to intentionally damage or tamper with messages or equipment. Being a much older legislation, the text of the law, however, does not refer specifically to cyber crimes.

Yes, the Critical Information Infrastructure Security Protection Regulations (unofficial translation) (关键信息基础设施安全保护条例) foresee cyber crime involving the (mis)use or the attack of the telecommunications infrastructure (CAC, 2017a).

There is no legislation in force which specifically relates to cybersecurity requirements applicable to national critical infrastructure at present. The latest version of the Cybercrimes Bill that was passed by the National Assembly has removed references to national critical information infrastructures (which were referenced in the previous versions of the bill).

If a provider becomes aware that their telecommunications infrastructure has been used to commit an offence, the provider has the obligation to report the matter in the prescribed manner to the South African Police Services and preserve all information/ evidence that will be relevant to the investigation of the offence.

20. Does the law foresee SIM and/or IMEI registration?What are the requirements applicable to such registration (for instance, the documents and information required for Know-Your-Customer (KYC) processes)?

According to the General Telecommunications Law, all devices that access the cellular network, that is, those that use a SIM card must have an Anatel certification. Certification is a prerequisite for marketing telecommunications products. According to Anatel’s Certification and Homologation Regulation, it is necessary to register the SIM card with the operator, providing the CPF. Telephone providers may only allow connection to devices that are certified for the mobile network, and the use of radio frequency emitting devices without certification is prohibited.

Anatel advises the user to check the International Mobile Equipment Identity before making the purchase. Since each cell phone has a specific location number this makes it easier in case of theft or robbery. It is through this number that operators can prevent cell phone misuse. However, there is no obligation under Brazilian law. Anatel has a “Legal cell phone” program to support consumers when purchasing irregular handsets. It is possible to check the situation of the device on the Anatel website, by inserting a sticker that is in the cell phone case, behind the battery or by typing * # 06 # on the cell phone and the call key.

The General Telecommunications Law and other regulations do not stipulate specific Know Your Costumers / Client rules, as a compliance resource to analyze the risk of consumer choices. But consumers who have bought an irregular cell phone without knowing it, find support in the Consumer Protection Code, to have their right guaranteed and to return the device through the invoice and warranty term. Especially, when buying over the Internet, the customer has 7 days from receipt of the product to make the return.

Mandatory paid registration of mobile devices by IMEI might be applied starting from 1st of July 2021 according to the Kommersant newspaper (Tishina, 2020) with reference to a law project that is currently under development. 

The senators proposed to introduce paid registration of all mobile devices with Internet access in Russia from February 1, 2020 using the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The corresponding bill was developed by the first deputy head of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation Lyudmila Bokova with a group of parliamentarians.  The bill proposes to oblige manufacturers and importers to register mobile devices by IMEI number. Individuals will be able to independently register gadgets (not only cell phones, but also tablets, laptops and other devices) purchased abroad on the website of state services. The possibility of extending this rule to all devices is being discussed, including sensors (used, for example, in electricity and water meters), which, like a mobile phone, must have serial numbers.

Cellular operators will be obliged to block devices that are not allowed to work in networks by IMEI. According to the project, a central database of these numbers will be created. It will be synchronized with the international GSMA database.

Supposedly, several lists of devices should be created. The black list will include stolen, illegally imported phones blocked at the request of the law enforcement agencies; the white list – fully functioning devices in cellular networks; the gray list and the list of exceptions – temporarily functioning phones for the period of checking the legality of import and purchase.

SIM card registration requirements

In June 2018, a Federal law No. 245 of July 29, 2017 came into force that prohibits the use of mobile phones without specifying passport data. All subscribers with incorrect documents risk being left without communication. These are new requirements of the communications law; the regulations came into force on June 1, 2018. The new law is intended to force market participants to properly fulfill their obligations to uniquely identify subscribers, which is already provided for by existing legislation.

In accordance with the law the telecom operator is obliged to verify the accuracy of information about the subscriber and information about the users of the communication services of the subscriber – a legal entity or an individual entrepreneur, including those provided by a person acting on behalf of the telecom operator, in accordance with this Federal Law and the rules for the provision of communication services.

Under Section 4 of the Telegraph Act, every license holder is required to identify any person to whom it provides its services using any of the following means —  (a) online or offline authentication using Aadhaar (b) passport or (c) any other officially valid document or modes of identification as may be notified by the government.[1] It should be the voluntary choice of the person who is sought to be identified to pick any of these options. While this provision was introduced in the law only in 2019, TSPs were anyway required to conduct a know your customer (KYC) verification for all subscribers under the terms of the license agreements and rules made by the DoT.

The DoT has also specified a customer application form (CAF) containing all the information that has to be provided by the customer. In case of an electronic KYC process, the DoT has specified a list of over 33 parameters that the licensee needs to include in the subscriber database (Circular of the Department of Telecommunications No. 800-26/2016-AS.II., 2019). This includes data such as the mobile number allotted, CAF number, name, gender, address, nationality, details of local reference (for outstation customers) and SIM activation date. An additional set of requirements have been specified for the issuance of bulk connections to entities (rather than individuals) using the digital KYC route (Circular of the Department of Telecommunications No. 800-26/2016-AS.II., 2020). This includes documentary proof of the entity’s name and address, authorisation from authorised signatory and list of end users. In addition, the physical coordinates of the office also need to be recorded and physically verified before activating the bulk SIM cards.

[1] This provision was added to the law by the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act (2019).


The Provisions on the Registration of True Identity Information of Telephone Subscribers Article 3 states: The term “registration of true identity information of telephone subscribers” as mentioned in these Provisions refers to the activity in which a telecommunications service operator truthfully registers the true identity information provided by a subscriber when it handles network access procedures for the subscriber’s fixed or mobile telephone service (including wireless network cards, same below), concludes an agreement or confirms the provision of service with this subscriber. Thus, the true identity of an individual when registering for the service is mandatory (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2013b). To register, according to Article 7, an individual may provide any of the following valid identity document

(1) A resident identity card, a temporary resident identity card, or a booklet of permanent residence;

(2) An identity card for servicemen of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army or an identity card for policemen of the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force;

(3) A Mainland travel permit for Hong Kong and Macau residents, a Mainland travel permit for Taiwan residents, or any other valid travel documents;

(4) The passport of a foreign citizen; or

(5) Any other valid identity documents as prescribed in laws, administrative regulations, and provisions of the state. The range of the provisions include fixed or mobile telephone service, and wireless network card (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2013b).

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also issued the Notice on Related Works of Further Perfecting the Management of Real-name Registration of Phone Users (unofficial translation) (关于进一步做好电话用户实名登记管理有关工作的通知), requiring telecommunication companies to implement face recognition starting 2019/12/1, only after the face recognition process can the individual access the network; the Notice also forbids the reselling of SIM cards (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2019).

Under the 2002 Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act 70 of 2002) (RICA), providers of electronic communications services are required to obtain certain information from subscribers in the sign-up process, known as Know-Your-Customer process. A South African citizen must provide his or her name, address and identity number. For non-citizens, a name, address and passport number are required.

21. Does the country specify the prices or tariffs for provision of telecommunication services or impose any minimum or maximum limits?

The financial consideration for the provision of public services is regulated by a price ceiling model that establishes the maximum value of the tariff to be practiced. There are annual readjustments, according to the combination of inflation and the fact of tariff reduction, in addition, Anatel promotes tariff reviews to maintain the balance of concession contracts. The price is given according to the service traded on the market, the monitoring and adjustments depend on the regulation that supports the contract between the user and the service provider. A calculation is made for the Telecommunications Services Index (Ministry of Communications, 2022f), which is made up of a combination of other indices in the economy and to update values ​​associated with the provision of telecommunications services, such as public telephone tariffs, reflecting the real variations in providers’ expenses, guided by Resolution n° 253 of 2009.

Another important foundation is the guarantee of equality between operators, the General Telecommunications Law imposes the obligation of interconnection between the networks (fixed and mobile) of the operators. In Act n° 9.919 of 2019[1], the maximum values ​​for the use of local fixed networks for the subsequent years were changed. This ensures that no telephone operator, whether fixed or mobile, refuses to make its telephone network available for call termination originating on another operator’s network.

[1] Repealed by Decree No. 10,553 of 2020

According to article 28 on “Regulation of tariffs for communication services” of the Federal Law No. 126-FZ dated July 07, 2003 ( the Law “On communications”):

  1. Tariffs for communication services are established by the communication operator independently, unless otherwise provided by this Federal Law and the legislation of the Russian Federation on natural monopolies.
  2. Tariffs for public telecommunications and public postal services are subject to state regulation in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation on natural monopolies. The list of public telecommunications and public postal services, tariffs for which are regulated by the state, as well as the procedure for their regulation is established by the Government of the Russian Federation. Tariffs for universal communication services are regulated in accordance with this Federal Law.
  3. State regulation of tariffs for communication services (except for the regulation of tariffs for universal communication services) should create conditions that provide communication operators with compensation for economically justified costs associated with the provision of communication services, and compensation for a reasonable rate of return (profitability) from the capital used in the provision of communication services, tariffs for which are set by the state.

Tariffs in the fixed-line segment are determined by the Federal Tariff Service on an annual basis, taking into consideration inflation and the operators’ expenses. The price competition in the long-distance (LD) segment increased as mobile operators began implementing promotional tariffs to promote voice traffic growth after the crisis (long-distance traffic is predominantly built by corporate clients). At the same time, traditional operators had limited room for maneuver as intra-zonal and domestic LD tariffs, which are subject to regulation by the government, remained flat over the last three years. As a result, mobile operators managed to bite off a heavy share of the intraregional and long-distance market from traditional fixed-line operators, first of all regional operators of Svyazinvest, which are now united under Rostelecom (Gazprombank, 2012).

The TRAI Act empowers TRAI to notify the rates at which telecommunications services are to be provided (TRAI Act, 1997, Section 11(2)). In pursuance of this, TRAI has notified an instrument called the Telecommunication Tariff Order, which has been amended from time to time, to set out the conditions governing telecom tariffs. While in the initial years TRAI followed the practice of specifying tariffs for different types of services, it has now transitioned to a forbearance regime for almost all categories of services. Currently, TRAI specifies tariffs for the following types of services — national roaming, fixed rural telephony, USSD and leased lines (TRAI, 2018a).

China does not regulate prices of telecommunication services, since the 2016 version of the Regulation on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China, service fee will be determined by the market (Article 23: Telecommunication services shall be subject to market-regulated pricing. Telecommunication operators shall fully consider the production and operation costs, the supply and demand situation in the telecommunication market, and other factors to reasonably determine the charging rates for telecommunication services. The Article replaced Article 24 of the 2000 version) (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2016) rather than being set by fixed, guideline or market prices stated in the 2000 version of the Regulation on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China (Article 24: Charges for telecommunications services are set by fixed , guideline or market prices. Charges for basic telecommunications services can be set by fixed or guideline prices set by the government or by market prices. Charges for value-added telecommunications services can be set by market prices or guideline prices set by the government. Charges for telecommunications services involving full market competition can be set by market prices. The Catalogue of Charges for telecommunications services set by fixed, guideline or market prices shall be formulated by MII after consulting the State Planning Commission) (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2000). However, Chinese government still encourages the lowering of prices for telecommunication services with policies such as Notice of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Further Regulating Activities to Market Telecommunications Tariff Schemes (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2018), the Notice encourages telecommunication service providers to provide different plans regarding their usage, and encourages service providers to act in accordance with the requirements of the Policies on Facilitating Faster and More Affordable Internet Connection.

Under chapter 10 of the Electronic Communications Act (Competition matters), ICASA is empowered to address retail price controls as pro-competitive licence conditions upon licensees having significant market power. A licensee has significant market power with regard to the relevant market or market segment where the Authority finds that the particular individual licensee or class licensee:

(a) is dominant;

(b) has control of essential facilities; or

(c) has a vertical relationship that the Authority determines could harm competition in the market or market segments applicable to the particular category of licence.

22. Are there any policies or regulations governing right of way issues, such as utilising land to dig trenches and lay fibre, for creation of telecommunications infrastructure?

Infrastructure sharing is supported by Antenna Law n° 13.116 of 2015, which provides for the right of way and use of areas to hold fibers, such as the creation of telecommunications infrastructure. The law establishes the general conditions for installation and sharing of the infrastructure, and on the mandatory permission for the passage of cables and optical fibers for the installation of telecommunications networks, as a priority treatment. However, it does not exempt the concessionaire from complying with engineering standards and requirements and with municipal, state or district laws and the courses required from installation to operation. The right of way has to be authorized by Organs regulatory bodies under whose competence the area to be occupied or crossed.

To support infrastructure sharing, Anatel approved Judgment n° 359 in 2019 of the infrastructures sharing operational manual established by the Infrastructure Sharing Regulation to Support the Provision of Telecommunications Service 2017. The manual enforces the obligations of the Law on Antennas (Berbet, 2019) by sharing the means using the Input Supply System with information from the infrastructure. Any conflicts will be resolved by Anatel itself. The manual also lists the chances of sharing.

The government is expected to publish the decree regulating the Antenna Law to address the right of way and the sharing of critical infrastructure between energy companies, roads and railways, in addition to specifying the situation of small providers and the need for a license. The right of way for cables, systems and resources of telecommunications networks.

The Land Code sets a specific category of land that can be used for communications, radio, television and informatics services. Federal and municipal land can be leased for the construction and exploitation of communications network infrastructure. The terms for granting such rights are set in the Land Code and city planning regulations. The Land Code also contains rules on the establishment and recordation of easements on lands where telecoms infrastructure is located and way-leave rights for the purposes of exploitation and repair.

There are no specific regulations or policies governing the right of way/servitude issues for creation of telecommunication infrastructure. However, there are various articles of the Civil Code (1994) and Land Code of the Russian Federation (2001) that articulate steps for recovery of damages (requesting compensation for loss or damage) from temporary occupation of land plots for laying a linear communication structure with subsequent temporary (short-term) use for emergency repair cases, and laying fiber-optic telecommunication cable.

In particular, these are Article 57 and Article 62 (paragraph 1) of the Land Code of the Russian Federation; and Article 1, Article 12 and Article 15 (Clause 2) of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation.

Since land is a state subject under the Indian Constitution, the power to make laws and regulations governing the use of land vests with the State Governments. Accordingly, each state government has been following its own practices for issuing RoW permissions, which also tend to vary at the local and municipal levels within a state. This is reported to be the cause of delays and exorbitant costs in the roll out of telecom infrastructure (TRAI, 2019a).

In a bid to address these issues, in 2016, DoT adopted the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, which aims to create a streamlined process for issuance of RoW permissions. The rules, which include requirements relating to online application process, limits on application fees and time-bound decision-making, cover the setting up of both underground and overground infrastructure. Initially, the rules applied only to TSPs but this was revised in 2018 to also cover infrastructure providers like tower companies (DoT includes tower…, 2018). As per a Parliamentary Standing Committee Report, as of August 2018, only seven states had adopted policies to bring their RoW regime in line with these rules (Standing Committee on Information Technology, 2018). A subsequent report stated that this figure had risen to sixteen states but a smaller number of them had agreed to the uniform RoW pricing suggested under the DoT’s rules (Kurup, 2020).

The draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022 contains a chapter dedicated to right of way permissions. It includes provisions relating to non-discriminatory and non-exclusive grant of right of way, process for permissions involving public and private property, the government’s power to establish common ducts and cable corridors and dispute resolution mechanisms (draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022, Chapter 4). In addition to this, the government has announced an initiative called the GatiShakti Sanchar Portal (2022) to serve as a collaborative institutional mechanism for right-of-way approvals.

There are policies governing the right of way for creation of telecommunication infrastructure in China. The Notice on Strengthening the Planning of Urban Basic telecommunication Infrastructure (unofficial translation) (关于加强城市通信基础设施规划的通知) acts as the source of the planning of telecommunication infrastructure building. The notice was jointly issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2015, it aims to push forward the development of urban telecommunication infrastructure, to support the healthy advancement of information telecommunication industry, and to promote the development of industrialization, informatization, and urbanization. The notice acknowledges that integrating planning of telecommunication fiber optic cable, tower, cables, data centers, and base centers into the Urban and Rural Planning Law is essential for the promotion of constructing national information infrastructure and the implementation of the “Broadband China” strategy. When developing road traffic, underground cable, and green space, government sectors should incorporate the construction of telecommunication cables, base stations, and towers into the plan and the coordination in accordance with the Guiding Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Promoting the Urban Underground Utility Tunnel Construction (Office of the State Council, 2015). When planning Urban Underground Common Trench, it is needed to consider leaving space for cables and wires for telecommunications infrastructures; when planning public infrastructures such as railways, bus stations, scenic areas and transportation hubs, it is needed to simultaneously plan and construct various kind of telecommunications infrastructures; when planning municipal infrastructures such as roads and its protective green lands and street lights, government sectors need to comply with related national regulations and save space for base stations and towers while considering the needs for the conducting of power in order to perfect the connection between the planning of telecommunications infrastructures and power sources (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2015c).

Under Chapter 4 of the Electronic Communications Act, ECNS licensees have broad rights to enter upon land for the purpose of constructing, maintaining, altering or removing electronic communications facilities, subject to environmental and other applicable regulation.

The Minister must, in consultation with the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, the Minister of Land Affairs, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Authority and other relevant institutions, develop guidelines for the rapid deployment and provisioning of electronic communications facilities. These guidelines must provide procedures and processes for:

(a) obtaining any necessary permit, authorisation, approval or other governmental authority including the criteria necessary to qualify for such permit, authorisation, approval or other governmental authority; and

(b) resolving disputes that may arise between an electronic communications network service licensee and any landowner, in order to satisfy the public interest in the rapid rollout of electronic communications networks and electronic communications facilities.

In 2020 the minister of communications and digital technologies published a draft policy for the rapid deployment of electronic communications facilities and it is an attempt on the part of the government to bring greater balance to the interaction between licensees on the one hand and landowners on the other hand.

If licensees want to roll out facilities using public (municipal) land, they have to apply for what is referred to as a wayleave – the permission from the local authority in order to dig up the pavement to lay the fiber or to erect a base station on that land.

In case of private land, compensation is payable to a landowner where a licensee comes onto the land and uses it for a purpose which disrupts the rights of the landowner. The policy talks about reasonable compensation, where the landowner is not able to exploit the licensee, and the licensee is not able to exploit the landowner. Ultimately it throws the detail of the question of compensation down to the regulator ICASA which will over the next year have to develop a set of regulations which clarifies how that compensation will be calculated.

23. What are the regulations applicable to the setting up and operation of landing stations and international gateways to the Internet?

The  Licensing standards Earth Stations include gateway-type access stations. The international gateway is usually used to make calls over IP networks (VoIP) internationally. Anatel did not create rules that fit the offer of VoIP operators. The VoIP is considered a multimedia communication service, as a technology and not a telephone service with the use of numbering and interconnection, so it applies the rules of the Multimedia Communication Service, Resolution n° 614 of 2013. The resolution establishes as interconnection, the type of connection between compatible telecommunications networks, so that users can communicate with service users from another network or access services available on them. The operating license of the station allows and authorizes telecommunications and radio frequency services, as for earth stations with access between space traffic and telecommunications networks, in an integrated manner.

Regarding the licensing of Access earth stations, Resolution n° 719 of 2020, which supports the General Licensing Regulation, provides that the process can be carried out both by the holder of the service exploitation concession and by the holder of the exploration right of the satellite operator.

According to the Article 8 on Registration of ownership and other property rights to communication objects, of the federal law No. 126-FZ dated July 07, 2003 “On communications”:

Communication facilities that are firmly connected to the land and the movement of which is impossible without disproportionate damage to their purpose, including line-cable communications facilities, refers to real estate, the state registration of property rights and other property rights to which is carried out in accordance with civil law. Features of state registration of property rights and other property rights to linear-cable communication facilities are established by the Government of the Russian Federation.

The setting up and operation of the international gateways to the Internet is done in accordance with the Regulation “On the procedure for joining public communication networks and the procedure for regulating the traffic pass of public communication networks” (1995). This Regulation has been developed in pursuance of clause of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 10.10.94 No. 1989 “On the Peculiarities of Public Administration of a Public Telecommunication Network” (Presented as an Appendix to the letter of the Ministry of Communications of the Russian Federation No. 54-u of March 28, 1995).

DoT has issued guidelines for the setting up of submarine cable landing stations for international gateways to the Internet (Department of Telecommunications, 2007). While seeking the permission, the ISP has to provide  details of all the ISPs that would be connected to the landing station and any additions to that can only be made with the prior written permission of the authority. Only internet traffic is allowed to be carried through the landing station and it should not be used for any unlawful activities or against public interest. Further, the landing station has to adhere to various other requirements specified by the government, such as ensuring that there is no bulk encryption of traffic by any ISP, monitoring and security requirements, filtering of traffic based on key words and addresses defined by security agencies (Department of Telecommunications, 2007).

TRAI has mandated that access to the cable landing station has to be made available in a fair, non-discriminatory and transparent manner (TRAI, 2007). The cable landing station also has to submit the terms and conditions of access facilitation and co-location facilities to TRAI for its approval. The landing station then has to publish the approved reference interconnect offer based on which an access seeker can approach the landing station for its services. Subsequently, through an amendment to this regulation in 2012 and a new regulation on facilitation and co-location charges, TRAI notified that it would be setting the facilitation, operation and maintenance and co-location charges that may be charged by cable landing stations. Following a judicial challenge to these regulations, in 2018, TRAI released a new schedule of applicable charges under these regulations (TRAI, 2018b).

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Provisions on Strengthening the Protection of International Communication Network Structure (unofficial translation) (关于加强国际通信网络架构保护的若干规定) Article 4 regulates measures that basic telecommunication operators have to adopt for the protection of international transmission networks such as international communication accesses (including cable land points and earth stations of satellites), submarine cables, and cables (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2010).

According to the ECA, Chapter 8, ICASA must prescribe a list of essential facilities including international electronic communications facilities such as submarine cables and satellite earth stations. It also states that:

An electronic communications network service licensee may not enter into any

agreement or other arrangement with any person for access to, or use of, any

international electronic communications facilities, including submarine cables and

satellites, that—

(a) contains an exclusivity provision;

(b) contains provisions that create undue barriers to access to and use of such

international communication facilities; or

(c) otherwise restricts any party to such agreement or other arrangement from—

           (i) leasing;

           (ii) selling; or

           (iii) otherwise entering into an agreement with any licensee under this Act or person providing services pursuant to a licence exemption for access to, and use of such international electronic communications facilities.

24. Are there any regulations of the Over-The-Top (OTT) services?

Over-the-top services are those that operate at the application layer where internet users produce, access and exchange information. Due to their functionalities of video, voice and messaging services over IP, applications compete with telecommunication services, so it must be reached by the regulatory agenda.

According to the General Telecommunications Law, Article 61, the regulatory treatment must be given between the companies with added value, that is, the one that mobilizes over-the-top service, and the telecommunications operators. According to the article of the law, the value-added service is the type of activity that adds new uses to a telecommunications service, but with which it is not to be confused. In Brazil, the Internet is considered a value-added service and, therefore, over-the-top companies are not subject to the obligations of Anatel’s telephone and regulatory companies.

There is a discussion about the definition over-the-top within the scope of the International Telecommunication Union: first if the definition of over-the-top services will be in accordance with the competition with the services provided by the operators; second, whether the over-the-top concept will be redefined by the entity to impact the political agenda of member states. The question of definition and regulation seems open, thus Anatel approved the public consultation on the numbering regulation (ANATEL, n.d.g). According to the agency’s proposal, the numbering of the personal mobile service will be used as a global mobile service; Fixed broadband will be identified according to the fixed telephone plan number as approved by the public consultation in November 2022.

Voice over IP (VoIP) services are not expressly regulated by Russian legislation. VoIP operators normally provide services under the terms of telecoms licences for data transfer for voice information transmission purposes. Rules for the interconnection of telecoms networks adopted by Government Decree 161, dated March 28, 2005, allow the connection of Internet Protocol-based networks to other networks.

In terms of statutory regulations, the main trend appears to be a tightening of state control over information distribution via communications networks and the Internet, including messaging and over-the-top services and restrictions on the anonymity of communications (eg, through identification requirements for online and electronic service users).

From 2018, the Federal law No. 149-FZ of July 27, 2006 ‘On information, informational technologies and the protection of information’ stipulates that users must identify themselves on messenger services like Telegram, Snapchat and Yandex. The amendments also meant that Roskomnadzor could block messenger services – something that happened when Russia tried to block Telegram in April 2018, leading to considerable collateral damage as sections of the Russian segment of the Internet (RuNet) became unavailable to regular users.

In 2020, TRAI concluded a four-year long consultation process on the regulation of OTT communication services (TRAI, 2020a). In March 2016, DoT had asked TRAI for its recommendations on issues relating to net neutrality and whether there is a need for a regulatory framework for OTT services. TRAI concluded that it was not an opportune moment to recommend any sort of comprehensive regulatory framework for OTT services and that market forces should be allowed to take their course. It also referred to the sufficiency of the extant laws and regulations in this regard. Some of the provisions that are applicable to OTT entities, among other covered entities, include requirements relating to data protection and supporting lawful information requests under the IT Act as well as copyright and criminal laws.

However, the government has decided to take a different route in terms of bringing OTT players under the fold of regulation. The definition of telecommunication service under the draft bill includes OTT communication services (draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022, Section 2(21)), which implies that all the provisions applicable to telecommunications services might also apply to this category of service providers. Further clarity in this regard is awaited from the government, which has made statements to indicate that only OTT players that provide services comparable to telecommunication services might be covered under a “light-touch” regulatory framework (“Regulation of OTT”, 2022).

In addition, OTT providers that qualify as online intermediaries are also governed by the IT Act and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 2021). The rules contain requirements relating to content moderation, provision of information to users, and grievance redress.  Further, entities that qualify as significant intermediaries are bound by additional requirements relating to appointment of designated officers and identification of the first originator of content by social media platforms.

Yes, there are five main technical requirements: General technical requirements for OTT TV, Technical requirements for OTT TV integration platform, Technical requirements and interface specification for program integrating system of OTT TV integration platform, Technical requirements and interface specification for accounting management system of OTT TV integration platform, and Technical requirements for OTT TV content service platform (Department of Science and Technology, 2020).

South Africa’s dominant operators have been seeking regulatory intervention on the grounds of creating an equal playfield and have argued that OTTs have no licence or tax obligations. A parliamentary discussion (PMG, 2016) was held in January 2016 to address the question of appropriate governance of Over-the-Top (OTT) services. Several stakeholders agreed that part of the problem is not having a globally accepted standard definition of OTT services

25. What are the grounds, if any, on which the country can suspend access to the Internet or direct the blocking of access to specific websites?

The suspension of Internet access can be triggered as an interruption to improve its dimension. In the case of network maintenance, the provider must communicate the fact to consumers at least 7 days in advance, in accordance with Resolution n° 614 of 2013 d to Anatel. The repair is valid for some type of system degradation that compromises the quality of the service provided.

The suspension of telecommunications and Internet services as cancellation due to default, complies with rules established by Anatel, in the General Regulation of Consumer Rights of Telecommunications Services[1]. Regarding the Marco Civil da Internet (Law No. 12,965 of 2014), Article 11 there are discussions about the possibility of suspending internet access, that is, users’ telecommunication services.

According to the article, in any situation of collection, storage, treatment of registration, data, communications by providers and internet applications in which at least one of the acts occurs in the national territory, the rights of privacy, confidentiality and protection as provided for must be respected. in legislation.

The blocking of access to specific websites is accompanied by a work group signed by the partnership between Anatel and the National Cinema Agency (ANCINE) (ANATEL, 2022b) and by the National Council for Combating Piracy and crimes against intellectual property of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The work group recently created by the agencies aims to develop a joint regulation to administratively block sites that offer pirated audiovisual content. Thus, agencies can remove illegal sites from the internet without the need for judicial intervention.

Judicial intervention is based on Law n° 9.609 and Law n° 9.610, both of 1998, which provide for the protection of the intellectual property of computer programs, their commercialization in the country. In addition, the National Council for Combating Piracy and crimes against intellectual property of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security has been responsible for supporting the blockade guidelines.

[1]Approved by ANATEL Resolution No. 32 (2014).

Restrictions on the content accessed by customers (network users) are mainly based on security considerations.

The Information Law contains a complex procedure on blacklisting of websites containing information the dissemination of which is prohibited under Russian law. The state regulator Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), under 2012 amendments to the federal law No. 144-FZ (On information, information technologies, and protection of information) has the authority to block access to websites, but only after the warning to an Internet provider and sufficient time for the website owner to correct the wrong information. There should be a warning and three days given for the follow-up action, according to the law. However, there are precedents when Roskomnadzor has been blocking online resources abruptly, without following the standard procedure and without notice.[1] 

Roskomnadzor is in charge of holding a specific unified Register (Roskomnadzor, 2019) of domain names, internet website page locators, and network addresses that allow to identify Internet websites containing information prohibited for distribution in Russia (Register).

The Information Law also imposes additional regulatory obligations on operators providing internet access to their customers. Thus, telecommunications operators (providing internet services to their customers) should have access to and regularly upload information from the Register, and restrict access to blacklisted websites within 24 hours starting from the moment when such website is included in the Register. The list of grounds for the blocking of access to a web resource is constantly expanded. This measure is performed by telecoms operators which must cover all such costs.

Furthermore, the Information Law specifically prohibits the use of technologies that allow access to blocked websites (for instance, VPN services, anonymous search engines, etc.).

[1] See the case of an independent “Fergana” news website being blocked on October 1, 2019 in Russia (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2019).

Section 69A of the IT Act authorises the government to issue orders for the blocking of content on the following grounds — sovereignty, integrity and defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above. An intermediary that fails to comply with these directions can be punished with an imprisonment of up to seven years in addition to a fine. Further, the telecom licence agreement also contains a requirement to prevent the carriage of objectionable, obscene, infringing content once specific instances of such infringement are reported to it by the government.[1]

The detailed process of implementation of blocking requirements is laid down in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguard for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009. A blocking order may be issued at the request of a government organisation, in which case it needs to be considered by an inter-ministerial review committee, or based on directions issued by a court. The rules also require that the blocking order has to be kept confidential, which leads to a lack of transparency in the process.

In addition to the blocking of specific websites and content, government agencies in India also have the ability to suspend or shutdown Internet access in particular areas. The large number of such shutdowns draw their legal basis from Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This provision contains broad powers allowing the authorised officer to “direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take certain order” to prevent injury, danger to human life, health or safety, disturbance of public tranquility or a riot. In 2017, DoT issued the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, (Department of Telecommunications, 2017), which lay down the process through which an Internet suspension order can be issued and reviewed. In a challenge against the long Internet shutdown imposed in Kashmir, the Supreme Court has emphasised the need for transparency of shutdown orders. The Court noted that such orders must adopt the proportionality based approach principle and a review of the order just be carried out every seven days (Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India; Gulam Nabi Azad vs. Union of India).

[1] Condition 38.1, Part I, Unified License (Department of Telecommunications, n. d.d).

The Interim Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on the Management of International networking of Computer Information (State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 1997b) in 1996 gives power to the government to block websites, Article 6 reads: To carry out international networking of computer information, the output and input channels provided by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in its public telecommunication network shall be used. No units or individuals shall establish or use other channels for international networking on their own accord. In 2017, the Notice of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Cleaning Up and Regulating the Internet Access Service Market (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2017c) was issued, the Notice states that business operations such as Conducting business without license, conducting business beyond territorial scope, conducting business beyond business scope, and subleasing or transferring business license, include enterprises providing the IDC (Internet data center), ISP (Internet service provider) and CDN (content distribution network) services. The Interim Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on the Management of International Networking of Computer Information and the Notice of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Cleaning Up and Regulating the Internet Access Service Market include the provisions that impose the Internet blockade commonly known as the Great Fire Wall of China.

There are no grounds upon which Internet access can be suspended, unless there was a state of emergency that could suspend the constitution. Interestingly, regulations in terms of the current state of disaster due to the global pandemic can not suspend the constitution.

26. Does the country have specific policy or strategy promoting the development of Internet eXchange Point (IXP) and other interconnection and transmission systems?

The Brazil Internet Exchange ( is the strategy responsible for promoting a direct interconnection infrastructure between the autonomous networks that make up an internet in the country. The Internet Steering Committee Project in Brazil was created in 2004. The project was renamed in 2015 from to for an internationalization process.

The initiative is coordinated by the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil ( and by the Ponto BR Information and Coordination Center ( It is a private service, with its independent autonomous systems, linked by internet access and content providers, such as content distribution networks that use IPv6 and IPV4 traffic among themselves, such as academic, governmental, and financial institutions, among others. In Brazil there are 33 networks operating in different locations (, n.d.a).

The interconnection between the systems is done through agreements signed between the participants within the scope of the IXP. According to the Committee, currently, São Paulo’s traffic exchange points are a worldwide exponent and contain a number of interconnected networks and data traffic. Generally, the points are regional and are created to fulfill the objective of improving the costs and quality of connections in the localities, so they have data centers with simultaneous interconnection equipment for organizations. The aim is to provide the Internet faster, more cost effectively.

Another project created by the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil ( and the Ponto BR Information and Coordination Center ( to support interconnection and transmission systems is OpenCDN ( & Brazilian Internet Steering Committee [], n.d.). The project works to improve the speed, cost and quality of Internet access, shortening the distance between available content and the user. It is based on CDN (Content Delivery Networks) technology and was started in 2018, in the metropolitan region of Salvador. With the project, it is possible for the CDN to install cache servers in data centers that are already connected by local Internet Exchange Points.

The principal rules of telecoms network interconnections are set out in Articles 18 to 20 of the Federal Law 126-FZ (the Communications Law). Further, two decrees adopted by the government provide the specific technical requirements for:

  1. general network interconnections; and
  2. the interconnection of broadcasting networks, respectively.

Apart from these mandatory rules, all terms of interconnection and network-to-network access are defined and agreed on by the contracting operators. Operators of publicly available telecoms networks must provide interconnection services to other operators.

Operators considered to have a substantial position in publicly available networks (where a ‘substantial position’ is defined as holding more than 25% of the capacity in the relevant geographic numbering area, individually or as part of a group of affiliates) must offer equal and non-discriminating terms for all connecting operators on the basis of standard published contracts. Operators that hold a substantial position cannot refuse interconnection, except where such connection would contradict their licence terms or applicable regulation.

Network connection costs are government regulated for operators that hold a substantial position in publicly available networks. For such operators, the Federal Agency for Communications sets the minimum and maximum costs of interconnection services per connection point.

Disputes on interconnection-related issues are resolved through standard judicial procedures in arbitrazh (ie, commercial) courts.

The Federal Law of May 1, 2019 N 90-FZ[1] “On Amendments to the Federal Law” On Communications” and the Federal Law “On Information, Information Technologies and the Protection of Information”, providing for the creation of a national Internet traffic routing system, centralized management tools, etc. One of the major changes according to this law is that telecom operators are required to install state equipment at traffic exchange points for analyzing and filtering traffic (Deep Packet Inspection -DPI) within the country and communication lines crossing the Russian border (Federal Law No. 90-FZ of May 1, 2019; Federal Law No. 31-FZ of March 18, 2019). Also, telecom operators are obliged to enter in the register and use exclusively these exchange points (the procedure is determined by the Government).

[1] The so called law on “Sovereign Internet” has entered into force on November 1, 2019.

In 2003, the Department of Information Technology established the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) as a not for profit organisation to encourage peering among ISPs in India for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country (National Internet Exchange of India, 2022). As a body set up by the government, NIXI has been allowed to operate without any license requirements and also falls outside the purview of DoT and TRAI regulations on quality of service, tariff, and interconnection port charges (TRAI, 2011). Besides NIXI there are a few other IXPs that are operating in India. However, it is reported that as of now only a fraction of the country’s overall Internet traffic flows through these IXPs (Deep, 2020).

In 2011, TRAI had recommended to DoT that IXPs should be brought within the licensing regime so as to ensure their proper functioning, including mandatory interconnection of ISPs at IXPs (TRAI, 2011). But to date there remains uncertainty regarding the legal framework applicable to IXPs. While some IXPs are operating under an ISP license, there are others that claim that no such license is required since NIXI is also operating without a license (Deep, 2020).

Since 2000, China has been actively setting up Internet exchange points in Beijing, Shanghai,[1] and Guangzhou (“Is the new”, 2019); and after 2015, as the need for interconnections between networks increases, Internet-corporations-directed Internet exchange points emerged, for example, several Internet corporations established content acceleration platforms to open up communications between private network providers. In 2019, China established the National New Internet Exchange Point in Hangzhou, with the aim of realizing “one point to access them all” (一点接入、全网联通) and therefore improving the capability of the Internet and lower the price of Internet access and data transmission cost (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2020). As of 2020 and 2021, three additional New Internet Exchange Points were created in Zhongwei (Ningxia), Qianhai (Shenzhen), and Shanghai respectively (Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Communications Administration, 2020; Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2021a; China News Network, 2021).

[1] The research on the innovation and supervision of Internet exchange center, Chen Huihui (2016).

The National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper (Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, 2016) includes the following as objectives for policy intervention for Internet exchange points (IXPs):

  • To keep continental traffic continental, regional traffic regional and local traffic local;
  • To ensure efficient Internet traffic management across the continent, the SADC region and within South Africa;
  • To increase the speed of inter-country exchange of data;
  • To reduce the costs associated with exchanging data between countries in Africa, the SADC region and within South Africa;
  • To facilitate peering between ISPs in South Africa; and
  • To encourage South African ISPs to peer in the SADC region.

The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) launched South Africa’s first Internet exchange point in Johannesburg in 1996. (INX-ZA, 2022), a division of ISPA, operates community-run Internet exchange points in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

The African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AFPIF, n.d.) addresses the key interconnection, peering, and traffic exchange opportunities and challenges on the continent and gathers together infrastructure providers, Internet service providers, IXPs, international financial institutions, policymakers, and regulators.

Chapter 7 of the Electronic Communications Act is dedicated to interconnection. ICASA issued the Interconnection Regulations (ICASA, n.d) in 2010 which gave effect to that chapter. The purpose of these regulations is to:

  1. To facilitate the conclusion of interconnections agreements by stipulating: (i) agreements principles, (ii) timeframes and processes to be followed by parties and (iii) the procedures for the submission, review and filing of agreement.
  2. To provide for and require the provision of interconnection services to enable licensees to interconnect with each other.
  3. To encourage interoperability.

The setting of pricing principles governing interconnection essential in facilitating the entrance of competition into the market.

27. Have any exceptional measures been adopted to regulate Internet access in light of the Covid19 crisis?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government issued Law n° 13.979 of February, 2020, establishing measures to deal with the public health emergency situation, to safeguard the provision of public services and maintenance of essential activities with a view to adopting restrictive measures of the law, two Decrees were issued.

Decree n°10.282 and Decree n° 10.288, both regulated the definition of essential public services and activities, such as telecommunications and the Internet, identified by broadcasting services, postal services and telecommunications and Internet services as essential activities.

Regarding the suspension and cancellation of services due to consumer default, the rules established by the General Telecommunications Services Consumer Rights Regulation, within the scope of Anatel’s duties, were maintained.

In compliance with the judicial decisions of April 2 and 7, 2020, of the judgment of the 12th Federal Civil Court of São Paulo, Anatel recommended to the fixed and mobile telephony service providers to support the provision of services during the emergency period of the Covid-19 , as well as the reestablishment of the services of those consumers who have already suffered delinquency cuts. The decisions refer to Public Civil Action n° 5004662-32.2020.4.03.6100 (Instituto de Defesa do Consumidor [IDECON], 2020).

In 2019 Russia passed the “fake news” law (Federal Law on Amendments on the Law on Information, of 13.03.2019 No. 31-FZ). According to this law, distribution of deliberately unreliable socially important information in the media, as well as in information and telecommunication networks under the guise of reliable messages shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine for citizens from thirty thousand to one hundred thousand roubles (an equivalent of US$450 and US$1500 respectively at the time when the law was passed).

On March 31, 2020, in response to COVID-19, Russia passed amendments to legislation on “fake news”, in particular, regarding the spread of fake information that can threaten people’s life and safety as well as distributing deliberately false information of public significance. Violation of these amendments can imply imprisonment from three to five years (Federal Law No. 100-FZ of April 1, 2020).

The following are some of the COVID-19 related developments and measures relevant to the telecom sector:

  1. Telecommunication, internet, broadcasting and cable services were exempted from the lockdown restrictions imposed by the government to deal with COVID-19 so as to allow the continuous functioning of these essential services (Pathak et al., 2020). In addition, some of the states took specific measures to enable the smooth functioning of mobile networks. For instance, the Maharashtra State Electricity Regulatory Commission reduced commercial electricity tariffs by 10-15 percent (Pathak et al., 2020). In Kerala, the government took an initiative to monitor the regular supply of diesel to telecom towers that relied exclusively on diesel generator sets (Bhandari, 2020).
  2. DoT suspended the testing of the mandatory telecom rollout obligations of TSPs in light of the delays reported by the operators in the acquisition of approvals, import of network equipment and physical deployment of the infrastructure (“India’s private telcos”, 2020).
  3. In the initial weeks of the lockdown TSPs undertook measures like extending the validity of pre-paid numbers and providing free talktime and messaging benefits. These measures were targeted towards the low ARPU users who the TSPs believed were in more need of such relief although TRAI had indicated a preference to make the relief packages available to all prepaid users (Sengupta, 2020).
  4. The Cellular Operators Association of India wrote to DoT and various OTT video providers seeking their co-operation in mitigating network congestion that may arise due to the increase in video streaming. The OTT players responded by declaring that they would take temporary steps to ease the pressure on mobile networks (Parsheera, 2018b).
  5. The industry body referred to above (see #4) also proposed that the government should enable free access to certain critical websites, such as those relating to health services and providing COVID-19 related information (Parsheera, 2018b). This was proposed to be done using the available exemptions for public emergencies under the regulations on discriminatory tariff for data services. However, this request is not known to have been actioned upon by TRAI or DoT.

Since the outbreak of Covid 19, China has actively blocked combinations of words throughout the Internet, for example on the livestream platform YY, multiple words such as “武漢不明肺炎” (unknown Wuhan pneumonia) 丶 “武漢海鮮市場” (Wuhan seafood market) 丶 “沙士變異” (SARS mutation) 丶 “爆發SARS疫情” (SARS outbreak) 丶 “武漢衛生委員會” (Wuhan Municipal Health Commission) 丶 “P4病毒實驗室” (Wuhan P4 Laboratory) have been blacklisted; Weibo, since January, have blocked words and phrases such as 中國政府防疫措施 (China’s work against the pandemic)丶港澳台防疫工作 (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan’s works against the pandemic)丶李文亮 (Li Wenliang); other phrases such as “human to human transmission”, “Xi Jinping goes to Wuhan” have all been blocked (BBC News, 2020). Local governments have been actively censoring the Internet, too, until June 23rd 2020, Guangdong Administration for Market Regulation had blocked 17226 pieces of information related to wild animal trade (South+Client, 2020).

ICASA requested all network service providers to heed the call to enable the country to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, by facilitating easy and affordable (and/or free) access to data. In this regard, they engaged the sector on possible ways of radio frequency spectrum relief for the duration of the declared state of disaster to ease congestion, ensure good quality of broadband services, and enable licensees to lower cost of access to consumers (particularly in relation to education, emergency and other social services).

After the SA government proclaimed a state of disaster at the end of March, ICASA made additional radio spectrum available to ensure that the network can keep up with additional demand during the lockdown. ICASA also called on all service providers who meet the minimum certification requirements for TV white spaces to make use of the TVWS database for purposes of providing affordable and/or free access to data to rural consumers during this period.

ICASA also considered relaxation of the tariff notification filing requirements to enable speedy roll-out of specifically tailored data packages to respond to the pandemic.

Access to spectrum

1. How does the country organise access to spectrum for data transmission (e.g. via auctions)?

With the General Telecommunications Law n° 9.472 of 1997, the process of privatization of telecommunication services in the country, adopted the form of auction, competition or sale of shares in public offering, as a way of organizing the spectrum. Article 157 of the said Law defined the radio frequency spectrum as a limited resource and as a public good, the management and use of which is Anatel’s responsibility. Article 158 competes with Anatel for the Radio Frequency Allocation, Distribution and Destination Plan.

The Plan must allocate the frequency bands guided by international recommendations, serve the public interest, develop the national sector and facilitate consultation and knowledge of the spectrum with regard to decision-making by interested parties.

In 1998, Resolution n° 65, established the Bidding Regulation for the Concession, Permission and Authorization of Telecommunications Service and Authorization for the Use of Radiofrequency.

With the regulation, the telecommunications service concession is defined and that should be made through publication in the Official Gazette and submitted to public consultation. In the next phase, all the bidders’ proposals are analyzed and judged according to the requirements of the invitation to bid. Then, the winning proposals and resources are enabled, and then the Anatel Council awards the service award. It is worth emphasizing that during the qualification of the winner, tax regularity, technical, legal, economic and financial quality are checked, including in the case of consortia. The concession is formalized by signing a contract.

The concession of permission is given in an exceptional situation by compromising the functioning of the service, which leads to intervention in the concessionaire company or by a concession. The permission is preceded by the bidding process, and formalized by signing the term.

Authorization and use of radiofrequency are an administrative act linked to the concession or permission, which assigned a fixed period of right to use radio frequency and following the rules of the General Plan of Concessions and Regulation of Telecommunications Services of Anatel.

With the increase in applications that can be transmitted through the data transmission spectrum, Anatel keeps the Frequency Band Allocation, Destination and Distribution Plan updated, together with the band assignment table. Both the allocation and destination of the bands are organized according to the function of the spectrum use: primary services and secondary services. Specific definitions of spectrum usage follow Resolution n° 671 of 2016.

The band frequencies and prices are stipulated by Anatel, placed in public consultation and structured in the auction call instrument. In the bidding model, Anatel splits the spectrum into parts of band frequencies and allocates services to each fraction of the spectrum. In the country, cell phone radio frequency was the first auction in 1996. In 2010, another auction was held for the mobile phone band H[1]. The fourth generation of mobile broadband (4G) that corresponds to the 700MHz band was put up for auction in September 2014. However, the auction rules may change, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications recently issued Ordinance n° 418 of 2020, with recommendations and measures for the bidding of frequency bands for the deployment of the fifth generation of mobile telephony.

[1] For more information on past auctions, see the Senate’s Journal of public hearings (Teixeira & Brasil, 2011).

Articles 22 to 24 of the federal law No. 126-FZ dated July 07, 2003 ( the law “On communications”) set out general provisions on the regulation of spectrum. Under these provisions, the State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCRF/GKRCh), under the Ministry for Digital Development, Connection and Mass Communications, is vested with the authority to regulate the use and allocation of spectrum in Russia. Spectrum frequencies are allocated in accordance with the Frequency Bandwidths Allocation Chart adopted by Government Decree 1049-34, dated December 21 2011. In addition to setting the framework for the use of spectrum and making general decisions on the possibility to use spectrum for the provision of specific services, the SCRF issues permissions (Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, 2022b) to use certain bandwidths and frequency channels. If a relevant radio frequency resource is limited in the territory that the operator applies for, the spectrum is allocated at auction.

The Federal State Unitary Enterprise Main Radio Frequency Centre analyses electromagnetic compatibility and issues expert evaluations of the potential allocation of spectrum to specific operators that have applied for permissions. This entity also oversees compliance with technical operation requirements for spectrum use in Russia.

Compliance with the terms of allocation of radio frequencies is supervised by the Federal Radio Frequency Service.

A. LTE frequencies

 In the beginning of the decade of 2010 (in 2012, 2013, 2014) the 4G spectrum auctions for  LTE frequencies were conducted in Russia.

The largest Russian Telecom operators such as “Rostelecom”, MTS, “Megafon” and “VimpelCom” (Beeline) received LTE-licenses in lower bands (eg. 720-790 MHz, 791-862 MHz) and higher frequency bands (eg. 2500-2690 MHz) at 4G spectrum auction in 2012. Each winner received 2 bands in high and low bands with bandwidth of 10 MHz and 7,5 MHz accordingly. High band is usually used for LTE deployment with small cells (eg. in big cities) while the low band is used in places where larger cell coverages are needed.

In 2014 a new form of frequency distribution through auctions was introduced in the field of frequency regulation. According to Government Decree No. 480 (2014), it was planned to hold the first auction where the LTE frequencies 2570-2595 MHz and 2595-2620 MHz (Band 38) should have been exposed. Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), Roskomnadzor and the Ministry of Economic Development demanded to hold auctions on a regional basis in order to enable new participants to enter the market and receive more funds for regional budgets. As a result, it was decided to include both the federal lot and the regional lots (82 lots) in this action conducted in 2015.

Apart from Band 38, the shrinking number of LTE Russian operators also have licenses in the following bands: Band 20 (800 MHz), Band 3 (1800 MHz), Band 7 (2.6 GHz), Band 40 (2.3 GHz) and also Band 31 (450 MHz), a special low frequency band (initially proposed by Brazil at 3rd Generation Partnership Project (2022)), which provides maximum LTE coverage range, well tailored for rural and remote places coverage (State Commission for Radio Frequencies [SCRF], 2017).

In Russia commercial LTE networks have been launched in 37 regions by the end of October 2013. In the beginning of the implementation of LTE networks, LTE FDD mode was commonly adopted, in Band 7 (2600 MHz), while LTE TDD was used by MTS in Moscow  in Band 38 (2600 MHz) and “Vainakhtelecom” in Chechen Republic, Band 40 (2.3 GHz).

“Osnova Telecom” is deploying LTE TDD networks in Band 40 (2.3 GHz0) which has most of the band resources (from 70 to 100 MHz, depending on the region). In accordance with licensing terms companies should have launched networks in 40 regions by the end of January 2014. On October 3, 2013 “Osnova Telecom” prepared pre-launch networks’ testing in 12 regions.

LTE networks have been deployed in all regions and federal subjects of Russia (Mforum, 2016), facilitated in part by shared investment and use of networks, such as between VimpelCom and MTS. By end of 2015, VimpelCom reported its LTE coverage of the territory that holds 70% of the Russian population (VimpelCom, 2015).

B. 5G frequencies

At the end of 2019, the State Commission on Radio Frequencies (SCRF/GKRCh), that is responsible for the distribution of this resource in Russia, has instructed Roskomnadzor to hold an auction for the right to obtain licenses to provide services in the 5G standard using frequencies of 25.25-25.65 GHz no later than the third quarter of 2020. The bid was supposed to be the first 5G frequency auction in Russia.

However, on March 17, 2020, the SCRF commission had a meeting (SCRF, 2020) and took a decision “On the determination of radio frequency ranges for the creation of communication networks of the 5G / IMT-2020 standard on the territory of the Russian Federation” and approved (Decision of the State Committee for Radio Frequencies No. 20-54-02; SCRF, 2020) a new frequency distribution scheme for the development of fifth generation (5G) mobile communication networks).

Now the SCRF commission adopted a new scheme:

  1. Based on the results of research work on the topic: “Preparation of a draft plan for the conversion of the radio frequency spectrum in the interests of introducing 5G / IMT-2020 technology in the Russian Federation”, determine that the radio frequency ranges 694-790 MHz, 2300-2400 MHz, 2570-2620 MHz , 4400-4990 MHz and 24.25-27.5 GHz are promising for building communication networks of the 5G / IMT-2020 standard.
  2. To establish that the radio frequency spectrum available for the provision of communication services in the radio frequency range 4400-4990 MHz limits the possible number of operators of fifth generation communication networks on the territory of the Russian Federation. The minimum required continuous section of the radio frequency spectrum for the provision of communication services in fifth generation networks in a given territory in certain sections of the radio frequency band 4400-4990 MHz is 50 MHz.
  3. To allocate a radio frequency band 24.25-24.65 GHz to an indefinite circle of persons for use by radio electronic means of the 5G / IMT-2020 standard, including for the purpose of creating technological communication networks, on the territory of the Russian Federation.


Frequencies 24.25-24.65 GHz are proposed to be allocated to “an indefinite circle of persons”, including “to create technological communication networks”. This wording means that applicants will be able to obtain a resource without bidding by sending a corresponding application to the Russia’s State Commission on Radio Frequencies (SCRF/GKRCh).


  1. Allocate LLC New Digital Solutions (a joint venture between MegaFon[1] and Rostelecom to develop 5G) and FSUE NIIR[2] (OGRN 1027700120766) the radio frequency band 24.65-27.5 GHz for use by radio electronic means of fifth generation communication networks for scientific, research, experimental, experimental and design work in order to clarify the characteristics of radio electronic means of communication networks of the 5G / IMT-2020 standard and to determine the conditions for joint use of the radio frequency band 24.25-27.5 GHz of radio electronic equipment of communication networks of the 5G / IMT-2020 standard from radio electronic means of the State Corporation Roscosmos in the coinciding and neighboring radio frequency bands.


Earlier, representatives of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications announced that they were planning to allocate a slightly narrower frequency band to a consortium of the largest Russian Telecom operators – Rostelecom, MTS, MegaFon and VimpelCom (Beeline brand) without trading.


Operators will be able to use the frequencies they have for the construction of 5G networks without “issuing separate decisions of the State Committee for Radio Frequencies.” The document indicates the bands that are currently used for the development of 2G, 3G and 4G communications.

[1] MegaFon is the second largest mobile phone operator and the third largest telecom operator in Russia.

[2] Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Order Of Labor Red Banner Russian Scientific Research Institute Of Radio named after M.I. Krivosheev” (2022) .

Frequency allocations in India are determined based on the table of frequency allocations set out under the National Frequency Allocation Plan announced by the DoT (2018b). Each frequency band is allocated to one or more radio communication services, which includes cellular mobile service, Wi-Fi, sound and television broadcasting, radio navigation for aircrafts and ships, defence and security communications, disaster relief, satellite communications, etc (Department of Telecommunications, 2018b). The further assignment of various spectrum bands to different users is determined by the WPC in the DoT, which is India’s national radio regulatory authority.

A large part of the spectrum still remains reserved for government agencies such as defence purposes, police agencies, railways and the Department of Space. As per a 2015 estimate, nearly 60 per cent of the total available spectrum available for access networks had been assigned for government purposes and 40 per cent was available for commercial telecom services (TRAI, 2015). This has led to calls for the periodic reassessment of the actual spectrum usage by government agencies, which can enable better harmonisation and re-farming of the spectrum (Parsheera, 2019a).

India has experimented with a number of different spectrum allotment practices for commercial cellular and mobile services before it settled on the current practice of allotment through auctions. In the initial years after the opening up of the market to private players, spectrum was allocated through auctions. There was a policy change in 2001 and until the year 2010, India moved to the practice of administrative allotment of spectrum by the DoT on a first-come-first-serve basis. However, following an incident of corruption and mismanagement of 2G spectrum, the policy regime has fully shifted toward spectrum auction as the preferred mode of allotment for cellular mobile services. The reserve price for such auctions is fixed by the DoT, based on recommendations made by TRAI. At present, spectrum prices in India are noted to be among the highest in the world (“Price of 5G”, 2019).

The preference for allotment through auctions finds support from the observations made by the Supreme Court while canceling the improperly issued 2G telecom licenses. As per the court, the alienation of natural resources like spectrum should be supported by the method of auction, which allows all eligible persons to participate in the process (Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Others. vs. Union of India). However, the Court subsequently clarified that it did not intend to impose auctions as the preferred method, as this was a policy decision, but the government is bound to ensure that the adopted means are not arbitrary in nature (“Natural Resources Allocation”, 2012).

In 2002, China tried allocating spectrum via bidding; however, in the past fifteen years the spectrum has been allocated via authorization through administrative examination and approval (State Radio Regulation of China, 2018). The newly revised Telecommunication Regulations establish a system of coexistence of administrative distribution and auction. For radio frequency licenses related to national security and public interest, the administrative distribution method will continue to be used for key protection. The newly revised Telecommunication Regulations stipulate that the allocation of radio frequency resources can be carried out in both administrative and market methods. In the past, frequency allocation in China relied more on administrative examination and approval. The revision of the Telecommunication Regulations establishes bidding and auction as a system, clarifying that commercial frequencies such as terrestrial public mobile communications can be allocated through bidding and auction (Ali Cloud Developer Community, 2017).

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is responsible for interaction with the ITU and represents South Africa at the World Radio Communication Conferences convened by the ITU every four years. The Minister of Communications has the ultimate authority over the band plan which sets out the uses to which the various frequency bands can be put by the users thereof. South Africa falls within ITU Region 1 and the band plan will largely accord with that agreed to under the ITU’s auspices.

The Minister also controls the use of frequency for security services and other Government uses. ICASA is responsible for administration, management and licensing of all radio spectrum that has not been allocated for government or security uses. Spectrum is awarded subject to the allocation set out in the national radio frequency plan. The national radio frequency plan must be updated and amended when necessary in order to keep the plan current.

Initially ICASA followed a first-come-first-served basis, but started working on regulations setting out the mechanisms to be employed in assigning frequency in bands where demand exceeds supply. Since 2010, the South African regulator has attempted to convene a spectrum auction three times, and each time the auction has been withdrawn. There are multiple causes of these serial auction failures. One is the lack of coherent vision from the Ministry of Communications which has seen 13 different ministers in 13 years, that has, in turn, led to disputes between the regulator and the ministry. During all this time, basically over a decade, operators were deploying 4G services in bands that are not originally meant for it, which ended up ultimately costing them more and these costs were passed on to the consumers. Another reason are delays in digital migration and freeing up the high-demand spectrum, namely the 700 and 800 MHz digital dividend bands.

After another delay due to the COVID19 pandemic, the auction process was finally completed in 2022 (ICASA, 2022).

Spectrum is awarded on a technology-neutral basis subject to the allocation set out in the national radio frequency plan.

2. Does the country offer some type of advantage in the spectrum access (e.g. discount or compensation) for operators who use the spectrum to provide services in rural areas?

Rural service in the country has a specific regulation by Anatel. Resolution nº 622 of 2013 defined the guidelines for the provision of fixed telephone service in rural areas and remote regions, except the basic charging area. The service has a General Plan of Goals for Universalization which governs the Authorization Terms (ANATEL, 2022d).

The provision of services in the rural area was established by the Authorization Term linked to Bidding Notice n° 004 of 2012 – Rural and urban Broadband Notice. The service providers that won the bid, should assume the commitment to reach rural and remote areas, allowing the inclusion and penetration of voice and data services. Thus, providers are obliged to offer fixed telephone services and multimedia communication services with defined distance, and to serve rural public schools, providing data connection. Data transmission speeds were also established.

There are no policies or Compensation devices Deeds will offer services in rural areas. However, the General Plan of Goals for Universalization, excluded the goal of creating multifaceted service stations in the rural area, converging on the universal service obligation.

There is a national program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” (Government of the Russian Federation, 2022) that subsidises at least 50% of the cost to mobile operators who build towers in remote areas (“In the Kuban”, 2020). Digital Economy project is planned for 5 years from 2019 till 2024 and foresees various forms of subsidies for the provision of telecommunication infrastructure and development of digital agenda of the Russian Federation.

There is no special policy or concession for operators relating to the use of spectrum in rural areas. However, researchers and businesses have been making a case for allowing the secondary use of unutilised TV white spaces for providing better connectivity in rural areas. In 2015 and 2016, the DoT had granted experimental licenses to various entities, including four academic institutions and Microsoft, to carry out pilot studies involving the use of TV white spaces. However, the DoT subsequently announced that it would not allocate the 470-582 MHz spectrum band for the commercial deployment of TV white spaces technology (Bandhari, 2018). Similarly, researchers have also been making a case for the opening up of unutilised V-band (57 GHz — 64 GHz) and E-band (71–76 GHz and 81–86 GHz) spectrum, which has applications in both dense urban clusters and rural areas (Rai et al., 2018).

There are two major projects that provide services in rural areas, Extending Radio and TV Broadcasting Coverage to Every Village Project and Pilot Program of the Universal Telecommunications Service, these two projects enable the vast Chinese rural population to connect to the rest of the information society via Internet and telecommunications.

It is proclaimed by the Chinese government that “where there are people, there is 4G signal.” The confidence came from the concept of universal service, meaning that anyone can have access to the Internet anywhere with affordable prices, with the main goal being to uphold the public interest of the society. The telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas can be an example, they cost more to build but also charge less, “These builds are money-losing from the perspective of economic efficiency.” Said Shu Hua Ying, a member of the China Institute of Communications, he also notes “In countries such as the US and Canada, the telecommunications industry is highly privatized, therefore economic value will more often than not be the main consideration. However, in China, all the telecommunications companies are state owned, and public welfare is a social responsibility incumbent upon the state.” (Office of Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission/Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), 2019)

No. However the country does impose some coverage obligations, principally for those bidding for spectrum in the 700MHz or 800MHz bands (which are in the process to be auctioned).

ICASA employs Administrative Incentive Pricing (AIP) in order to try and promote the efficient use of spectrum.

3. Does the country offer simplified (i.e. low bureaucratic, affordable) licencing for spectrum access to be used for social purposes or to provide coverage to specific areas? Does this include provision of public Wi-Fi services?

The bidding rules for the right to use radio frequencies provided for in the Regulation guiding by Resolution n° 671 of 2016, item 2, notes that Anatel may reserve radio frequency bands or sub-bands to serve projects of social and digital inclusion, to provide use by public security, civil defense and military purposes.

Wireless technology uses the technical protocol of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers 802.11 which defines a series of transmission and coding standards for wireless communications[1]. Anatel regulates the use of radiocommunication equipment with restricted radiation, which includes the wireless network standard, which is the wireless connectivity standard for local networks. Resolution n° 680 of 2017 on the Restricted Radiation Radiocommunication Equipment Regulation, Article 62, determines that network stations supporting the provision of services of collective interest are exempted from licensing, applying to providers with up to five thousand accesses in service.

The recent Resolution n° 718 of 2020 altered the functioning of the femtocells, allowing the provider to self-configure and manage the users. The femtocells operate as fixed station radio communication, as are low – power antennas and reach and cover signals, especially in indoors environments.

[1] For more information on the adoption of wireless in the country see Marques (2006).

No, Russia does not offer simplified licencing for spectrum access for social purposes. On the contrary, as regards to the provision of public Wi-Fi services, in order to prevent terrorist attacks (e.g. terrorists using public Wi-Fi networks to access the Internet) the following regulations were applied in 2014:

1)  Federal Law No. 97-FZ of May 5, 2014[1];

2) Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 758[2] of July 31, 2014;

3) Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 801[3] of August 12, 2014 on the identification of Wi-Fi users in public places.

According to these Regulations, the owners of free Wi-Fi points, namely: the owners of cafes, restaurants, hotels and other places with public access to the Internet, are obliged to identify users by their phone number or passport data.

[1] Federal Law No. 97-FZ of May 5, 2014 (as amended on July 29, 2017) “On Amendments to the Federal Law “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” and certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation on the issues of streamlining the exchange of information using information and telecommunication networks”

[2] Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 758 of July 31, 2014 “On Amendments to Certain Acts of the Government of the Russian Federation in Connection with the Adoption of the Federal Law “On Amendments to the Federal Law” On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation on streamlining the exchange of information using information and telecommunication networks”.

[3] Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 801 of August 12, 2014. “On Amendments to Certain Acts of the Government of the Russian Federation”.

Recognising the social and welfare benefits of allowing unlicensed usage of spectrum to support services like Wi-Fi applications, DoT has designated certain unlicensed bands that are free to be used by anyone. In 2005, the DoT declared that use of wireless services in the frequency band 2.4-2.4835 GHz would be permitted without a license, subject to adherence with specified power and antenna height limits. Subsequently, the use of frequencies in the 5.150-5.350 GHz and 5.725-5.875 GHz range was permitted for indoor uses (Srivastava, 2017). In 2018, the government announced that spectrum in the 5.1-5.3Ghz and 5.7-5.8Ghz bands was unlicensed both for indoor and outdoor uses (“Government frees spectrum”, 2018).

India currently lags behind other countries in terms of the proliferation of public Wi-Fi networks. The recommendations made by TRAI in this regard include the introduction of a new class of entities called Public Data Office Aggregators that would be allowed to provide public Wi-Fi services without need for a specific license (TRAI, 2018c). Promoting the adoption of open public Wi-Fi access is one of the key objectives set out by the DoT in the NDCP. The proposed strategies in this regard include the use of public private partnerships to roll out 1 million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas and 2 million in rural areas.

Regarding the spectrum allocation of the Extending Radio and TV Broadcasting Coverage to Every Village Project, contracting businesses of the Program can have priority when distributing telecom frequencies. For the price standards for rural communications, telecommunications businesses can flexibly formulate various forms of preferential policies, the new price standards should be reported to the Ministry of Information Industry (now Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) or the provincial communications administrations for approval or filing; taking into account the affordability for the villagers, it is required that the price of rural communication shall not be higher than the current price.

The provincial communications administrations are responsible for the coordination, monitoring, inspection, guidance and promotion of local village communication projects, and conduct target assessment of local village communication projects, while businesses implement village communication projects independently. The Ministry of Information Industry (now Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) and provincial communications administrations only conduct target assessment and acceptance; they also don’t participate in the operation process of businesses (National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance & General Administration of Radio, Film and Television, n. d.).

Provincial communications administrations are responsible for public Wi-Fi services. Pinggu District near Beijing, for example, has been promoting district wide informatization that provides Wi-Fi to every household with over 130 Wi-Fi hotspots established (Beijing Daily, 2016).

No. However, in September 2022, the DCTD published a new draft spectrum policy (“Communications and Digital Technologies”, 2022) for public comment. The Next Generation Radio Frequency Spectrum Policy for Economic Development (Spectrum Policy) supports the deployment and licensing of alternative infrastructure networks, and aims to adopt spectrum management approaches that promote participation of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and emergence of new entrants into the ICT sector. Although still only a draft, it is a very progressive and inclusive spectrum policy, aiming to address gaps and limitations, including the failure to lower the cost of communications.

4. Does the country allow secondary use of spectrum? If so how is it defined?

The secondary use of the spectrum is carried out according to the concession of the right to use a radio frequency. The entity that is authorized to use the frequency on a primary basis has the right to protect its communication in the event of harmful interference. Frequencies that operate on a secondary basis do not have the right to protection, so they cannot activate Anatel.

When the destination of the primary use range is followed, authorization for secondary use is permitted. According to Resolution n° 671 of 2016, Chapter 3, the channeling and specific conditions of use of radio frequency, as secondary use, must be compatible with the activity or service to be explored, regarding the power, bandwidth and technique employed. This type of authorization does not require public calling.

The new General Telecommunications Law No. 13,879 of 2019, changed the requirement to present a viable and compatible project in the case of authorization of telecommunications services. Regulation facilitates the secondary spectrum market, allowing for an extension through successive authorizations for telecommunications services. For extensions of spectrum use, investment commitments will be established according to government guidelines, or the payment of public value for renewal. Finally, spectrum management has also been made more flexible, as it allows the transfer of authorization to use the banner without the bound correspondence, with the consent of Anatel.

Regulation of the use of the radio frequency spectrum is the exclusive right of the Russian state. The use of the radio frequency spectrum is allowed only on the basis of permission (general or private). The transfer of the right to use the radio frequency spectrum (renewal of the relevant permit) is allowed only by decision of the state body. As a result, there is no radio frequency market in Russia. Lease or borrow of spectrum frequencies is prohibited.

According to the article 24 on “Allocation of radio frequency bands and assignment (assignment) of radio frequencies or radio channels” of the Federal Law No. 126-FZ dated July 07, 2003 (the law “On communications”), the use of the radio frequency spectrum without a permit is not allowed, unless otherwise provided by this Federal Law. The right to use radio frequency bands granted in accordance with this article cannot be transferred by one user of the radio frequency spectrum to another user without a decision of the state commission on radio frequencies or the body that granted this right.

According to the Article 35 on “Renewal of a license” of the Federal Law No. 126-FZ dated July 07, 2003 (the law “On communications”), a telecoms licence can be transferred without additional approvals. In cases where the use of spectrum is involved, the reissue of a licence to a new licensee requires a prior transfer of the spectrum use permit. Further, when applying for the reissue of a licence, the applicant must inform the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Connection, Information Technologies and Mass Communications of such prior transfer. A sub-licence where the original holder reserves rights or can revoke the grant of rights is impossible, as licences are issued in the name of one holder only.

According to the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 895 dated June 08, 1998 “On approval of the Regulation on payment for the use of the radio frequency spectrum in the Russian Federation”, “it is not allowed to transfer to organizations regardless of the form of ownership and to individual entrepreneurs in the ownership or permanent indefinite use of the radio frequency spectrum”, “the right of organization, regardless of the form property and an individual entrepreneur for the use of the radio frequency spectrum cannot be transferred to other individuals and legal entities, unless otherwise provided by the regulatory legal acts of the Russian Federation.”

The National Frequency Allocation Plan provides that each frequency allocation to a service is categorised as a primary or a secondary allocation. Accordingly, secondary use is allowed for the purposes that have been permitted under certain frequency bands. However, this is permitted in only a limited set of cases and the DoT itself has noted in the NDCP that there is a need for promoting more efficient co-use/ secondary use of spectrum. In addition, the sharing and trading of spectrum between licensed service providers is also allowed. Spectrum sharing is permitted among service providers who have authorisation to operate in a particular service area and are utilising spectrum in the same band (Department of Telecommunications, 2015).

China is still working towards the marketized management regarding access to spectrum, this includes secondary use and trading of spectrum (State Radio Regulation of China, 2018).

Secondary use of spectrum is only allowed in the TV white space frequencies (470-694 MHz). The regulation requires a Geo-location Spectrum Database (GLSD) to control availability of channels to White Space Devices (WSDs) requiring access to spectrum. The regulations also define permitted maximum power levels of the devices and the maximum allowed antenna height.

The ITA issued in October 2020 states that ‘In cases that the spectrum is not fully utilised by the licensee within 5 years of issuance of the Radio Frequency Spectrum Licences, the Authority will initiate the process for the Licensee to share unused spectrum in all areas with ECNS licensees who may, inter alia, combine licensed spectrum in any innovative combinations in order to address local and rural connectivity in some municipalities including by entrepreneurial SMMEs.

5. Do the country’s regulations provide for the use of unlicensed or license-free spectrum bands in specific areas, such as rural areas, or throughout the country?

According to Resolution n° 680, 2017 and n° 705, 2018 the use of radio frequency bands without a license or in specific areas, will be possible whenever the interested party is in compliance with the regulation and authorization, both of the use of the frequency, band or channel, in the following situations: authorization of use nonexclusive, that is, secondary character; band association already held by the entity, in the same area and space, corresponds to another service of collective interest; primary authorization, with verification that there is no technical limitation.

In the case of multimedia communication services, providers with up to five thousand accesses are exempted from licensing, and whose use is exclusive by confined means or restricted radiation radio equipment such as Wifi.

The provision of services in rural areas follows specific Resolution n° 622 of 2013 disciplined in terms of authorization; according to which, fixed telephone service providers must follow the general plan of goals guided by the principles of universalization, and offer rural service plans.

The unlicensed use of spectrum is restricted to indoor use (with technologies like WiFi), with few exceptions (Decision of the State Committee for Radio Frequencies under the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications of Russia No. 07-20-03-001 of May 7, 2007).  All issues related to the allocation and assignment of radio frequencies are regulated by the Federal Law of 07.07.2003 No. 126-FZ (The law “On Communications”) and a number of other legal documents. The law defines the authorization procedure for access to the radio frequency spectrum. The right to use the radio frequency spectrum is granted through the official allocation of radio frequency bands and the assignment of radio frequencies or radio frequency channels. The use of the radio frequency spectrum without an appropriate permit is not allowed.

Thus, issues related to the allocation and assignment of radio frequencies are normatively fixed and strictly regulated in the Russian Federation.

See response to question 3 above for details of unlicensed bands. These are available throughout the country.

No, China does not provide regulations for the use of unlicensed or license-free bands in specific areas, there is no mentioning of such exceptions in regulations such as the Regulation on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China or the Regulation on Internet Information Service of the People’s Republic of China.

ICASA has issued regulations setting out bands which may be used without a frequency licence, subject to certain technical restrictions.

The most important of these bands for telecommunications purposes are the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz ISM bands, which are used extensively for the provision of Wi-Fi services in rural areas.

financial resources

1. Is there any fund for universalization (to promote the increase) of Internet access or access to Telecom services for everybody)? Is there a Universal Service Fund or any other fund? If so how are resources collected and distributed?

There are three funds to promote telecommunications services and to promote technological innovation, FUST, FINTEL and FUNTTEL.

The Telecommunications Inspection Fund (FISTEL) was created to provide resources and expenses for the Federal Government to carry out the inspection of telecommunications services. The Fund was created by Law n° 5.070 of 1966 and amended by the General Telecommunications Law in 1997, adapting the sector to the new reality, but maintaining the cost of inspection activities. Anatel took over the management of the fund when it was created.

The fund is made up of Anatel’s collections: inspection and installation fees, inspection and operation fees, and provision of telecommunications services. It is possible to monitor the fund’s annual collection, and the legal destinations, between Anatel, National Treasury, National Culture Fund, Telecommunications Services Universalization Fund and the National Scientific and Technological Development Fund (ANATEL, 2020a).

The Telecommunications Services Universalization Fund (FUST) aims to stimulate the expansion of services throughout the country, expanding the offer in regions with low population density, low income, inadequate infrastructure,  thus there are not viable rates of return sufficient for investment in universalization.

The fund for the integration of voice and data in the country was established by Law n° 9.998 in 2000, and reinforces the premise of service availability to the user, regardless of cost. Therefore, voice and data services must include the entire population, with priority for areas related to education, health, security, remote or border regions, extending access to people with special needs.

The fund consists of a contribution of one percent (1%) on the gross operating revenue on the telecommunications service provided in the public and private regime, in addition to the funds transferred from FISTEL. The distribution of resources is applied to programs, projects and activities carried out by fixed-line concessionaires, in areas indicated by the Superintendence of Development of the Northeast and by the Superintendence of Development of the Amazon, with eighteen percent (18%) being applied in education, assisting the disabled.

All service providers that hold a concession, permission or authorization to provide services, radio frequency and satellite exploration rights are required to contribute. It is possible to follow the evolution of the collection of the universalization fund, the value of the allocations received, contributions and total charges between the years 2001 and 2020[1].

The Fund for the Technological Development of Telecommunications (FUNTTEL) was created by law n°10.052 of 2000 with the objective of stimulating technological innovation among companies in the telecommunications sector, and to facilitate the access of medium and small companies, and promoting professional training to increase the competitiveness of the national industry.

The fund’s contribution is half a percent (0.5%) of the gross revenue of protesting telecommunications services companies, excluding taxes. The funds are applied exclusively according to the interest of the telecommunications sector, directly allocated to the CPQd Foundation.

For the promotion of public broadcasting, Law n° 11.652 of 2008, article 32, instituted the Contribution for the Promotion of Public Radio Broadcasting (CFRP), whose objective is to improve services, by expanding its penetration. The funds are paid annually, in the form of installments, and destined to Brazil Communication Company (EBC), and Anatel is responsible for planning and monitoring the contribution. The amounts collected by the company in the exercise of its activities generate a return of two and a half percent (2.5%) of the amount collected for Anatel (Ministry of Communications, 2022a).

[1] See Law No. 10,052 of the Executive Branch (2000).

Russian Federation was considered one of the UASFs in the Asia-Pacific region that has financed fixed-broadband projects. Russia was classified as having a high level of activity according to an ITU study conducted in 2013 (ITU, 2013).

In regards to the Universal Service Fund the Russian Federation today can be characterized as a single-operator of the Universalization Fund system, where all funds go to a single company (Rostelecom). The Russian Federation has shifted from a system of a competitive tender process between 21 operators to a single-operator model (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 2013).

The Universal Service Fund consists of the contributions of all Russian (Telecom) operators of 1.2% of revenue. All operators of the public communications network are obligated to make deductions (non-tax payments) quarterly (Federal Law No. 126-FZ of July 7, 2003, Art. 60) to the universal service reserve  to finance state support of universal telecom services development and the maintenance of the ported mobile phone number database (for the purposes provided for by the Federal Law No. 126-FZ).

In February 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed amendments to the Federal Law No. 126-FZ dated July 07, 2003 ( the law “On communications”), which has appointed State telecoms company Rostelecom as Russia’s single operator of universal communication services. Chapter 8 (Articles 57-61) of the federal law No. 126-FZ defines universal communication services, procedure of appointment of the responsible Telecom operator (via tender or by the appointment of the state), Universal Service Reserve and compensation for losses caused by the provision of universal communication services in Russian Federation.

In May 2014, the Russian Government announced that Rostelecom would be tasked with carrying out its broadband service program to bring Internet access to more than 13,000 towns and 4 million people across Russia. The Rostelecom company must commit itself to support the existing infrastructure of Universal Service, including payphones and access points (VRM) on the Internet. In addition to these duties, a single operator will also fight the digital divide by providing broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s to settlements of 250-500 people.
Rostelecom telecommunications operator

According to the Federal Law “On Communications”, the Government of the Russian Federation assigns the obligation to provide universal communications services throughout the territory of Russia to an operator occupying a significant position in the public communications network in the territories of at least 2/3 of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. The only operator that meets these criteria is PJSC Rostelecom.

According to the announcement of the Rostelecom report 2019 on “Universal communications services and the project to eliminate the digital divide” where the priority topic is “Good Digit”, respectively, the emphasis in the document is on digitalization of the country and the largest and most demanded projects implemented during 2019. However, the report is not out yet, and for latest data it is better to refer to report 2018 (Rosstelecom, 2018).

The USOF was created under the lndian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 with the goal of providing access to basic telegraph services to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices. Subsequently, in 2006, the scope of universal service obligations was amended to include all telegraph services, hence allowing the fund to be utilised for provision of Internet access and broadband services. As per the Indian Telegraph Rules, the management of the USOF, which includes entering into agreements with service providers for the utilisation of the fund, lies with a fund administrator created under the rules (Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2004).

The selection of the universal service provider for any particular project is to be done based on a bidding process, which is open to all eligible operators (Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951, Rule 526). However, the DoT may exercise its discretion to not follow this process in certain circumstances. For instance, this was done in the context of awarding the state-run operator, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, the right to build telecom connectivity along a popular pilgrimage route. This decision was based on factors such as the remoteness of the area, commercial non-viability and national security considerations (Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, 2015).

The Bharatnet Project, formerly referred to as the National Optic Fibre network, has been one of the largest applications of USOF. The aim of the project is to provide connectivity to 250 thousand Gram Panchayats, a unit of governance at the village level, in the country. The project was launched in 2011 and over a decade later only about  188 thousand of the Gram Panchayats had been connected  (Bharat Broadband Network Limited, 2022). This is reflective of the project’s slow roll out. While the first phase of the project focused only on optical fibre connectivity, the ongoing second phase is also looking at satellite connectivity. Further, unlike the first phase, which had a public sector led model, in the second phase different states have been given the option to choose their preferred model, including a state government led model, private sector led model and public private partnerships.

Yes, there are funds for the universalization of Internet access and telecommunication services, the Pilot Measures for the Management of Telecommunications Universal Service Subsidy Funds provide funds for the universalization of Internet access and telecommunication services, which includes the construction and maintenance fees for fiber optic and broadband network in rural areas, through arrangements of Ministry of Finance of the people’s Republic of China (Ministry of Finance, 2019). In 2019 the Ministry of Finance issued over 3.2 billion RMB which then provides funds for over 20 thousand 4G base stations (Xinhua News Agency, 2019), according to the Notice on the Subsidy Funds of the Universalization of Telecommunication Service (Ministry of Finance, 2019). Also, telecommunications operators have provided over 40 billion RMB for the universalization of telecommunication services since 2015 in response to the government’s funds (China News Network, 2017). The funds will be distributed in accordance with the Measures of the Administration for Special Transfer Payments from the Central Government to Local Governments and regulations of National Treasury Centralized Payment System (e.g. the Measures for the Administration of Payment Services for Intermediary Receipt of State Treasury Funds (People’s Bank of China, 2019).

The Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA, 2022) is a state owned entity of government established through the Electronic Communication Act.

In terms of the ECA the Agency must:

  • strive to promote the goal of universal access and universal service;
  • encourage, facilitate and offer guidance in respect of any scheme to provide universal access, universal services or telecommunication services in terms of the Reconstruction and development Plan (RDP);
  • foster the adoption and use of new methods of attaining universal access and universal service;
  • make recommendations to enable the Minister to determine what constitutes universal access, universal service and underserviced areas;
  • conduct research into and keep abreast of developments in the Republic and elsewhere on information communication technology, electronic communications services and electronic communications facilities;
  • continually survey and evaluate the extent to which universal access and service have been achieved;
  • make recommendations to the Minister in relation to policy on any matter relating to universal access and universal service;
  • advise the Authority (ICASA) on any matter relating to universal access and universal service;
  • continually evaluate the effectiveness of this Act and things done in terms thereof towards the achievement of the goal of universal access and universal service;
  • manage the Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF) in accordance with the provisions of the Act;
  • submit annual reports in its operations, budget and expenses to the Minister;
  • utilise the USAF exclusively for the payment of certain subsidies; and
  • provide incentives to network licensees to construct, operate and maintain networks in areas declared under-serviced by ICASA.

In 2010 the determinations (Gov Gazette: 32939, 2012) of universal access and universal service targets for Electronic Communications Services (ECS), Electronic Communications Networks Services (ECNS) were issued. The determinations for Universal Access targets for data ECS are as follows:

–   at least one public broadband Internet access point for every 10,000 people in a geographically founded community; and

–   access to a data ECS at a public access point within a range of 2 km from any person residing in such a community.

The following criteria apply: “the service (defined as including access to broadband and being able to use the Internet for at least 20 hours per month, of which no fewer than 10 hours are within peak times or being able to consume at least 500MB per month) is available to 90% of households on demand and is affordable to 60% of households, that is, the cost does not exceed 5% of the households total expenditure.”

The Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF) is managed by USAASA and is financed by contributions from all telecommunications licensees except community broadcasting service licensees. The USAF’s sole mandate is to make payments for subsidies towards the provision of ICT equipment and services, and construct and extend electronic communication and broadcasting networks for needy persons in underserviced areas.

The ECA requires all licensees to contribute to the USAF in accordance with regulations issued by ICASA, which remains the body responsible for prescribing the basis and manner of contributions, albeit by law they may not exceed 1 percent of a licensee’s annual turnover.

The Digital Development Fund Bill proposes to dissolve the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa, which manages the Universal Service Access Fund and replace it by a new digital development fund. The widened scope of the Digital Development Fund Bill enables it to act as a medium for private funds to flow to underserved areas.

2. Are telecommunications services taxed or subject to other specific levies? If so how?

The sector’s tax burden is on mobile telephony and broadband, and is intended to pay government taxes, and the remuneration of the telecommunications sector’s production chain. In accordance with Anatel , tax rates are applied to Transactions on Circulation of Goods and Services (ICMS), Social Integration Program (PIS) and Contribution to the Financing of Social Security (COFINS). These taxes may vary by state. In addition to the tax burden, income tax – corporate and social contribution on net income (CSLL) are levied. According to Anatel simulations, approximately 40.3% of the value of the service is destined to the tax burden (Ministry of Communications, 2021a).

In addition, it has sector contributions through public funds to maintain the productive chair: Fund for Universalization of Telecommunications Services, Fund for Telecommunications Inspection and Fund for Technological Development of Telecommunications.

According to the World Telecommunication / ICT Indicators database, the Brazilian tax burden is the fourth largest in mobile telephony services and the largest in fixed broadband (Ministry of Communications, 2021a).

None of the Russian legal documents currently clearly defines the concept of “telecommunication services”. There is a judicial interpretation of this term. In particular, in some court decisions it is indicated that telecommunication services can be considered as communication services (see, for example, the decision of the Moscow Arbitration Court of 12.07.2010 No. A40-36263 / 10-140-241). However, in fact, this is not entirely true, since the concept of “telecommunication services” is somewhat broader than the concept of “communication services”.

In accordance with the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of September 10, 2007 N 575 “On the Approval of the Rules for the Provision of Telematic Communication Services”, the information and telecommunication network is understood to mean a technological system designed to transmit information via communication lines, which is accessed using computer equipment. A similar definition is contained in paragraph 4 of Art. 2 of the Federal Law of 07.27.2006 N 149-ФЗ. The use of the definition of “information and telecommunications” suggests that such a network is related to both communications and information.

From the above definition of information and telecommunication networks, one can derive the main features of telecommunication services as services related to the operation of information and telecommunication networks:

a. these are services related to the functioning of information and telecommunication networks and (or);

b. services for the reception, processing, storage, transmission, delivery of telecommunication messages.

Russia ratified the Protocol on accession to the WTO, part of which are the List of obligations for goods and the List of obligations for services. After ratification, these texts have become part of the international agreements of our country and now have even greater legal force than Russian regulatory legal acts. This follows from the norms of Part 4 of Art. 15 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

This document provides a specific list of telecommunication services, which include:

a. public voice telephone services: local, long-distance and international, mobile telephony;

b. data transmission services on packet-switched networks;

c. data transmission services on circuit-switched networks;

d. services of private leased networks;

e. email services;

f. voicemail services;

g. on-line access and information search in databases;

h. electronic data interchange; – value-added services / extended faxes, including storage and search;


a. encoding and converting protocols;

b. on-line access and / or data processing (including transaction processing);

c. other.

The implementation of telecommunication services is fully covered by paragraph 1 of Art. 146[1] of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation, namely, 1) the sale of goods (works, services) in Russia. This transaction is recognized as a taxable item. Consequently, the contractor of these services in the general case has an obligation to calculate and pay tax. For these types of services, the general rule applies for the taxation of these services with a VAT rate of 18%. Only the sale of services in Russia is subject to VAT.

Note: this part needs re-confirmation of understanding of Russian legislation and Russian Tax code with a Russian lawyer/Accountant; 

Taxation of electronic services provided on the Internet

From January 1, 2017, foreign companies will pay VAT on the sale of electronic services or content to Russians. The corresponding bill was adopted by the State Duma. The document aims to create a level playing field for Russian and foreign companies to conduct business in the Russian Federation.

Electronic services will include the provision through the Internet of rights to use computer programs, including games and databases. The list also includes the provision of advertising services on the Internet, services for placing ads, supporting electronic resources, the use of electronic books, music, videos and others.

Article 174.2 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation sets forth the main provisions relating to the taxation of electronic services.

On July 3, 2016, the President of the Russian Federation signed Federal Law No. 244-FZ “On Amendments to Parts One and Two of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation” (the so called “Google Tax”). The changes, enshrined in this Federal Law entered into force on 01.01.2017, fixed a new procedure for calculating and levying VAT on the provision of electronic services by foreign companies to Russian consumers.

The change was due to the need to equalize foreign and Russian companies: before the amendments, foreign companies were not paying taxes for the provision of electronic services, which gave them an advantage compared to Russian companies. In order to circumvent the law, companies were registered in countries with the lowest tax rate (Letter of the Federal Tax Service of Russia No. SD-4-3/7937 of April 24, 2019).

Starting from January 1, 2017, foreign Internet companies that provide electronic services in Russia, and the territory of the Russian Federation is recognized as the place of sale of such services, are required to pay VAT at a rate of 18% on online transactions. As part of the so-called Google tax, companies are required to register with the Russian tax authority (clause 4.6 of article 83 of the Tax Code)  and regularly submit tax returns to the Federal Tax Service (FTS).

Under the new rule, Russian legal entities and individual entrepreneurs are not tax agents, regardless of whether the foreign organization is registered with the Russian tax authorities or not (paragraph 9 of article 174.2 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation, letter of the Ministry of Finance of Russia dated September 3, 2018 No. 03- 07-08 / 62624).

The Ministry of Finance of Russia explained that this rule applies only to foreign companies (letter of the Ministry of Finance of Russia dated May 24, 2019 No. 03-07-08 / 37670), because registration of foreign entrepreneurs providing electronic services is not provided for by the Tax Code of the Russian Federation. The law also established that if a foreign person is not registered with the Russian tax authority, then when selling services, the place of sale of which is recognized as the territory of the Russian Federation, it is the Russian company-buyer that is to be recognized and taxed as the tax agent[2] (Article 161 of the Russian Federation Tax Code) (Utsyna, 2019).

Prior to the implementation of the B2B e-services rules on 1 January 2019, when nonresidents made B2B supplies of e-services into Russia, the customer was responsible for paying VAT directly to the tax authority via the withholding (tax agent) method. The change in the VAT payment rules for e-services, effective from 1 January 2019, means that Russian customers now pay Russian VAT directly to the nonresident supplier, who is in turn obliged to VAT register in Russia and pay VAT to the tax authority via its own quarterly VAT return.

[1] Object of taxation. Article 146 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation (2000).

[2] However, by 2019 some foreign companies that are selling electronic content in Russia have encountered difficulties in paying the so-called Google tax. Russian law obliges foreign companies to pay “Google tax” directly, but Russian banks reject tax payments from foreign accounts due to the lack of full details in payment orders (although payment forms are completed according to the provided instructions).

Foreign companies pay tax from their foreign bank accounts, and the standard forms of payment orders using the SWIFT system do not provide as many digits as correspondent bank accounts and in budget classification codes of Russia. Companies simply do not have enough space in the payment form to indicate all the necessary details. (“Tax on Google”, 2019)

Licensed service providers are required to pay an annual license fee at the rate of 8 per cent of their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). Of this, 5 per cent goes towards the USOF while 3 percent goes to the DoT. In addition, wireless service providers also have to pay annual spectrum usage charges. The quantum of spectrum charges is determined based on the bandwidth allotted to the cellular operator and is charged as a percentage of their AGR. This results in providers paying between 3-5 per cent of their AGR as spectrum usage charge to the DoT (“TRAI issues”, 2020). The telecommunications sector is also subject to Goods and Services Tax at the rate of 18 per cent.

Telecom operators have raised a demand for the rationalisation of these levies and taxes citing the financial burden being cast on the industry and the large unutlised corpus in the USOF (Aryan, 2020). This issue became particularly significant in light of a Supreme Court decision which accepted the government’s position that AGR is to be calculated based on all revenues earned by service providers and is not limited to direct revenues relating to their telecom operations only. This had created a significant backlog of revenue payments due to be paid by the operators.

According to notice number 106 of the Ministry of Finance in 2013, telecommunication industry will no longer be paying business tax, rather, they should be paying value-added tax; the notice includes companies that provide speech, pictures, messages transmission through various communications networks such as cable/wireless electromagnet system or electro-optical system; the notice also includes basic telecommunication services and value-added services. The tax rate for basic telecommunication services is 11% while tax rate for value-added services is 6% (Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation, 2014).

In October 2018 the National Treasury issued regulations prescribing electronic services for the purpose of the definition of electronic services in section 1(1) of the Value-Added Tax Act (1991). It is proposed that telecommunications services should be excluded from the definition of “electronic services” in the regulations. The proposed 2020 update defines “telecommunications services” as:

‘the transmission, emission or reception, and the transfer or assignment of the right to use capacity for the transmission, emission or reception, of signals, writing, images, sounds or information of any kind by wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or by a similar technical system, and includes access to global information networks but does not include the content of the telecommunication.’

Currently, the VAT Act and Regulations do not provide for “intermediaries” and “platforms” to be the principal supplier of the electronic services. In order to broaden the scope, further amendments are proposed in the VAT Act and Regulations to specifically deal with “intermediaries”and “platforms”.

3. Is there any fund to provide subsidies to operators to expand coverage to underserved areas and least privileged populations?

The Telecommunications Services Universalization Fund was created to support universal service obligations for telecommunications services directly in areas where there is no efficient operation of the service. In the case of Brazil, these areas are concentrated in the north and northeast regions.

However, as the Structural Plan for Telecommunications Networks 2019-2024 (Ministry of Communications, 2022c), Anatel sent a proposal for a draft law (Grossmann, 2022) to the Directing Council of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications, for the improvement of sectoral legislation to expand the use of the fund’s resources. The fund currently focuses on Switched Telephone Service projects, but the sector’s strategy is to make it effective for broadband policies. Therefore, more aligned with the objectives of increasing access to telecommunications services, such as the internet.

Until 2014 there used to be a Universal Service Fund for telecom operators. By order of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 437-r of March 26, 2014, Rostelecom was appointed as the single federal operator of universal service. On May 13, 2014, a ten-year agreement was signed between the Federal Communications Agency and Rostelecom on the conditions for the provision of CMS. To implement the program to eliminate the digital divide, about 215 thousand kilometers of fiber-optic communication lines would be built.

Since 2014, as part of the reform of universal communications services (UUS) and the digital divide program, 47 subjects of the Russian Federation (RF) have signed tripartite cooperation agreements. The purpose of these agreements is to develop telecommunications infrastructure and integrated state information systems on the territories of these RF subjects. One of the main areas of cooperation is to eliminate the digital divide and ensure equal opportunities for all residents of the regions to use modern communication services, including high-speed Internet access.

With the aim of providing internet connectivity to the isolated and hard-to-reach regions of Russia, Mincomsvyaz has been taking on various measures to provide for Internet accessibility by means of advanced information and communication technologies. In particular, to connect remote areas to the telecom networks, the Ministry of Communications has been supporting  projects to build submarine fibre optic links to connect  remote mainland areas along the Magadan-SakhalinKamchatka route, as well as connecting telecom networks of the Kuril Islands to Rostelecom network (the uniform telecom network of the Russian Federation). Universal broadband services will be provided in 1,757 access points (105% to the Plan), and 2,215 healthcare facilities and schools.  The total service area of access points provides free access to over 2,000 additional sites of Russian Federation Government bodies, Government budgetary agencies and the Common Government Services Portal of the Russian Federation through wireless networks.

There is a national program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” (Government of the Russian Federation, 2022) that subsidises at least 50% of the cost to mobile operators who build towers in remote areas (“In the Kuban”, 2020). Digital Economy project is planned for 5 years from 2019 till 2024 and foresees various forms of subsidies for the provision of telecommunication infrastructure and development of digital agenda of the Russian Federation.

There were also regional projects, for example, the state program of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra “Information Society for 2016 – 2020”, approved by the Government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra dated October 9, 2013 No. 424-p. Within the implementation of this program a procedure for providing a subsidy for the reimbursement of part of the cost of building communication facilities in remote and hard-to-get areas was developed (Department of Information Technologies and Digital Development, Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra, 2013).

The USOF is meant to be used for expanding coverage in rural and remote areas. See response to question 1 above for more details.

To support the construction of network coverage in China, the Ministry of Finance issued subsidies in accordance with the context of the Notice of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Further Carrying Forward the Pilot Program of the Universal Telecommunications Service (unofficial translation)( 关于深入推进电信普遍服务试点工作的通知) (Ministry of Finance, 2018). for example, operators establishing pilot programs of the universal telecommunications service in rural administrative village will be subsidized with 30% of both constructing cost and cost for six years of operation; for operators establishing pilot programs of the universal telecommunications service in border areas will be subsidized with 30% of both constructing cost and cost for ten years of operation. (Ministry of Finance, 2018)

The Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF) is designed to fund projects and programmes that strive to achieve universal service and access to ICTs by all South African citizens. In accordance with the ECA, this fund is utilised exclusively for payment of subsidies for:

  • Assistance of needy persons towards the cost of the provision to or the use by them of broadcasting and electronic communications services,
  • Financing the construction or extension of electronic communications networks in under-serviced areas,
  • The procurement of broadcasting and electronic communications network services and access to electronic communications networks for schools and further education and training institutions,
  • The establishment and operation of broadcasting services and the establishment and operation of, including training of and the payment of allowances to personnel of centres where access to electronic communications networks can be obtained.

Every holder of a license granted or deemed to have been granted in terms of the ECA is mandated to make prescribed contributions to the USAF.

4. Is any form of direct support (such as funding or tax exemptions) offered to small and/or micro and/or not-for-profit providers?

To promote the expansion of fixed broadband, Anatel, through resolution n° 694 of 2018 instituted some incentives for the performance of small service providers. In order to facilitate and encourage competition between companies, the agency created the Wholesale Offers Negotiation System, in addition, it will be able to establish differentiated obligations for Small Providers (ANATEL, 2021).

The agency provided a booklet with guidelines on competitive broadband and with guidelines on how to be a telecommunications service provider (ANATEL, n.d.b).

No. Russia doesn’t provide direct support, funding or tax exemptions offered to small and/or micro and/or not-for-profit providers.

In the initial years of the sector, telecommunication services were entitled to a tax deduction while computing the total income for taxation purposes. The deduction was applicable to any provider that commenced its business between April 1995 to March 2005 and allowed them a deduction of hundred per cent of the profits and gains for the first five years and thirty per cent for the next five years (Income Tax Act, 1961, Section 80IA). However, it was noted that at least in the first few years, most of the major companies were not able to claim this benefit. This was either because they were operating under losses or they were being assessed under special provisions of the Act, which did not allow for the deductions under this provision (Comptroller and Auditor General of India, 2008).

There are only five telecommunications operators in China, none of them are small or micro providers. There isn’t any direct support for non-profit operators either.

If a person or company provides services on a non-profit basis, they can be exempted from holding an Electronic Communications Service (ECS) license. Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) license exemption is possible for a Private Electronic Communications Network (PECN).

If exempted from holding a license, one is exempted to pay registration, renewal and annual fees. Annual fees are based on revenue and for the lowest group with the annual turnover of USD 0 to USD 3,000,000 the annual fee is 0.15% of revenue. One is also allowed co-location of equipment in an incumbent’s towers, which is something they allow to licence holders only.

If registered as a cooperative (which is often the case for community networks), there might be additional benefits for the provider: all the profit (if any) does not go to the shareholders, but is invested back into the community to achieve the co-operative’s goals, then there is no obligation to pay 0.2% of annual turnover as a contribution to the Universal Service and Access Funds.

ECS licence exemption from all these fees and compliance requirements is possible for different reasons, among them “a person or company who provides ECS on a non-profit basis”, as well as ECNS exemptions for a Private Electronic Communications Network (PECN).