We start revealing some interesting facts from the report on the digital economy of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Center to be presented on September 19 within the framework of the BRICS International Competition Conference in Moscow.
One of the problems that remains acute for BRICS countries is the digital divide between a country’s regions, specifically between rural and urban areas. Consequently, decreasing the divide remains a policy target for each BRICS country.
Internet and mobile penetration rates are only one side of the coin when it comes to accessibility. The other side is affordability – and here the BRICS countries are demonstrating a positive dynamic, offering affordability on a level similar and even exceeding some of the developed countries.
One way to capture these aspects is the Inclusive Internet Index that measures for categories: the availability, affordability, readiness (literacy, trust and safety, policy) and relevance (local content, relevant content).
In some of the BRICS countries competition authorities have contributed to making internet access and mobile telephony more affordable. In Russia the Federal Antimonopoly Service has led a series of cases against mobile operators dealing with excessive prices for intra-network and national roaming which have later been supported by industry regulation banning both types of excess roaming charges. In China competition authorities have also conducted several investigations against its three network operators (China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom) which ended up suspended due to the companies making commitments to improve their conduct in line with the requirements of anti-monopoly law.