Metamorphosis Foundation organized public debate about “Increasing broadband internet penetration in Macedonia”. The public debate was held in the premises of Economic Chamber of Macedonia in Skopje on February 27, 2007.
The aim of the public debate was to address the challenges and opportunities for increasing broadband internet penetration and to contribute towards enhancing the quality of the text dedicated to broadband in the realms of the National strategy for development of electronic communications and information technologies (NSDECIT) that is prepared by a working group within the Ministry of transport and communications of the Republic of Macedonia.
Representatives of the internet service providers, cable operators, academic community, civil sector, media participated in the panel discussion. The organisation of the public discussion was supported by OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje and Technical Assistance to the Telecommunications Sector Project.
Following conclusions emerged from the debate:
1. Statistical data in the text on broadband within the NSDECIT should be improved (new, according to EUROSTAT, defining indicators);
2. Overview of the concept of eventual state intervention on multiple levels:
- Different views regarding the need and realm of state intervention
- Intervention needed for MARNet to evolve into national research and education network that will connect all universities in the country with larger bandwidth
- Need for rural development, especially taking into consideration the sustainability of MK Connects project
3. Possible inclusion of internet access as part of universal service, noting that this issue is currently subject to debate in the EU;
4. Need of better consistency in terminology of the strategic ICT documents;
5. Need of prompt adoption of regulations regarding broadband wholesale on multiple levels (especially IP bit stream access as incite for competition in DSL market);
6. Need of better information campaign for the citizens and campaigns on raising awareness as well as mass ICT trainings;
7. Institution in-charge should constantly monitor ICT indicators, while project development and implementation should be monitored by National council for development of information society which will also influence on the quality and range of ICT indicators and measurements;
8. Necessity of establishing of fund for ICT development and research considering the fact that services and added value of the products bring bigger profit and investments compared to outsourcing among which are:
- Financing domestic research projects and centers
- Joint fund for additional financing of projects supported by foreign institutions, especially EU programs.
- Academic network support
9. Lease of services (links, internet access) by the Government and banks should be more diverse, thus increasing competition and developing independent networks;
10. e-content, e-services and ICT knowledge are equally important as access to network and special attention need to be paid to them in next broadband strategy;
11. Need of text on radiofrequency spectrum for development of broadband especially in rural areas (apart from the chapter dedicated to radiofrequency spectrum in NSDECIT).