Accelerating high-speed broadband in Turkey

Accelerating high-speed broadband in Turkey: Foundations, barriers, and policy considerations

March 30, 2016

Executive summary

Now is the time to accelerate the reach of national broadband in Turkey. Turkey has laid the groundwork for this acceleration. Broadband reach, speed, and affordability have been established, all abetted by a competitive market, a regulatory framework conducive to broadband development, and significant investments.

The barriers that are holding back the Turkish broadband market are: low demand among entry-level users, lagging demand for higher speeds, high taxation on devices, patchy coverage in suburban and rural areas, a challenging wholesale market, and inefficiencies in distribution. Drawing on the examples of successful policy interventions in markets similar to Turkey’s, our research recommends six policy measures that could propel the expansion of Turkey’s broadband reach by overcoming these barriers.

  1. Stimulate demand by increasing broadband awareness and digital literacy, emphasizing promotion of high-touch distribution channels, and accelerating the uptake of high-speed broadband.
  2. Increase relevant local content and applications, particularly those related to education, government services, and economic productivity.
  3. Revise the taxation regime on broadband-related devices and services to reduce the cost of ownership, making broadband more affordable.
  4. Infrastructure-based competition can be encouraged through the extension/redefinition of the regulatory holiday and introduction of other regulatory incentives.
  5. Extend current subsidies (Universal Service Fund) and bridge coverage gaps in low-density areas.
  6. Cooperate with municipalities to aggregate demand and ease right-of-way fees.

At this stage of Turkey’s market development, these six interventions would be more effective, and less disruptive, than alternative supply-restructuring measures such as structural separation.

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Turkey’s existing telecom outlook has the foundation on which to build a vibrant, truly national broadband network that reaches and benefits all people. To leverage that foundation and address current barriers, many measures have been identified that are impactful, affordable, and minimally disruptive. All of these measures have succeeded in other countries whose situations parallel Turkey’s — countries that had a good supply of broadband capacity but worked to build demand through wider distribution channels, reduced costs, and better local content.

International experience suggests that Turkey does not need supply restructuring. Instead, a coordinated effort by all stakeholders — policymakers, regulators, telecom companies, and content providers — can raise the supply of local online content, and increase demand among those who either lack broadband access or have previously seen no need for it. Stakeholders can follow proven policies and regulations to fill in the remaining gaps between supply of high-speed broadband and citizens’ demand, such as aggregating local demand, using mobile technologies as a supplement to fixed lines in remote areas, and doubling down on commercialization efforts to improve monetization of current infrastructure.

Connectivity-aided economic growth offers greater possibilities and prosperity for all sectors of society. If all stakeholders work together on evidence-based strategies to achieve it, while minimizing disruption, Turkey can hasten a highly connected future that benefits everyone.


Accelerating high-speed broadband in Turkey: Foundations, barriers, and policy considerations

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