Analysys Mason: regulatory best practice

Analysys Mason is a company that specialises in advising regulators on the best ways to do exactly that. We’ve long been admirers of their work, having crossed paths with them all over the world over the last ten years. Their expertise in network service quality, technical due diligence, and defining regulators’ Quality of Service (QoS) frameworks, make them best-placed to advise you on local and global issues within the industry.

We recently had the pleasure of working with Analysys Mason and were delighted when Franck Chevalier, their Co-Head of Technology Consulting, agreed to talk to us about how they help regulators conquer some of their most prevalent regulatory challenges today.

Hi Franck, tell us about yourself!

I’m Franck Chevalier and I’m the Co-Head of Technology Consulting at Analysys Mason. I deal with all the subjects and projects that have a technical nature at Analysys Mason, along with the technical components of larger projects as well. My background is in telecommunications. I’ve got a BEng Honours in telecommunications and a PhD in optical systems. I also used to be a network design engineer for Nortel Networks. They don’t exist anymore but they used to be a very large supplier of telecoms equipment.

What is Analysys Mason?  

Analysys Mason is a sector-specialist consulting and research company, focused on the TMT sector. We offer a broad portfolio of advisory services covering strategy, due diligence, policy and regulation. Our clients include national regulatory authorities, such as Ofcom in the UK and Arcep in France; fixed and mobile network operators, including service providers; financial institutions; end users and government bodies. Our services include commercial and technical advice through to the implementation of business and operational solutions. Our consulting services are supported by in-house custom and off-the-shelf market research, ranging from market-focused country reports to more detailed technology and technical analysis. 

Why is Analysys Mason the preferred consultancy partner for telecom regulators worldwide?

Our long history of work with regulators, operators, lenders, competition authorities, and governments on telecoms regulatory issues means that we have a very good understanding of the issues and concerns of all parties across different topics and worldwide jurisdictions, as well as experience of the full range of regulatory remedies and their relative merits. It also means that our reports and expert opinions carry some weight in these discussions, and that our teams across the business can rely on access to individual senior regulatory colleagues with decades of experience. Most recently, we’ve been involved in helping regulators with their QoS policies to ensure that operators’ advertising is transparent enough for end users to make an informed choice when selecting a service.

How do you assess national regulations?

Whether we are purely looking at regulatory policies or conducting a more technical project, we provide international benchmarking case studies and conduct a lot of detailed research. We consider the different regulatory policies across different jurisdictions and markets, along with what is considered best practice elsewhere. We then select the components of our research that are suitable for the particular country we’re studying, making it relevant to the context of its specific market characteristics.

Monitor your broadband infrastructure and your connections to the rest of the world.

What are some of the challenges that regulators face when monitoring internet performance? 

Consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on fixed and mobile broadband services, yet the quality of these services does not always meet their expectations. In particular, consumers who use video streaming services such as Netflix are increasingly aware of the detrimental effect that poor-quality delivery can have on their experience. If consumers experience poor-quality services, they need to determine the most effective way to resolve such issues. In the first instance, they can complain to their internet service provider (ISP), but the ISP may not know how best to resolve the individual consumer’s issues in the short term. Alternatively, consumers may contact the national regulatory authority, but they may not necessarily know how best to substantiate their complaint and secure an effective solution. It’s a complex process to assure end-to-end broadband QoS, and ISPs may have higher-level commercial priorities. For these reasons, national regulatory authorities (NRAs) are beginning to take a proactive approach (some more directly than others) to consider how consumer expectations of broadband service quality might be met. 

What are some of the barriers preventing consumers from receiving improved broadband services?

There are various factors which may prevent consumers from influencing ISPs to improve their services, such as: 

  • Lack of individual bargaining power with ISPs.
  • Lack of information and transparency regarding the characteristics of the services provided. 
  • Difficulty understanding technical terms and the broadband service performance limits. 
  • Difficulty understanding contract terms and conditions. 

Consumers typically have the option of moving to a different ISP. However, there are switching barriers (such as long-term contracts), and even if consumers do change ISP, they cannot be certain that quality will improve. Therefore, NRAs are increasingly taking measures to help improve the quality of broadband services and ensure that consumer expectations are met. 

Do regulators approach you with similar projects? 

NRAs have a number of complementary regulatory, monitoring, and reporting tools at their disposal to support consumers, including: 

  • Publishing ISP service performance and / or price comparisons. 
  • Publishing consumer satisfaction surveys, and comparing the quality of experience of all ISPs’ services. 
  • Introducing a voluntary code of practice for ISPs to ensure that consumers receive appropriate service information to allow them to make objective purchasing decisions.
  • Defining and enforcing regulations for broadband traffic management. 
  • Defining and enforcing a QoS framework - potentially with financial penalties for non-compliance. 

NRAs adopt different approaches depending on individual market characteristics. Some approaches have a more direct influence on the market than others - that is, they are more interventionist. 

In markets where competition is limited - and where the QoS of existing services is unsatisfactory - NRAs tend to take a more direct approach, such as implementing a QoS regulatory framework. This includes the measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs) for broadband service - particularly service provisioning time, average speed, and service availability time. The values for a standard, comparable set of KPIs for all broadband services available in the market are then published so that consumers can make an informed service choice. In marked contrast, NRAs tend to adopt a more hands-off approach in markets where competition is well developed, and instead rely on market forces to ensure that each ISP continually improves its services to remain competitive. 

What is the secret to regulating your national internet performance?

Analysys Mason and SamKnows work with clients in a very complementary way. We at Analysys Mason help regulators formulate the key policies that will help end users attain a better quality of service for their internet. And then SamKnows operationalise those policies by implementing the measuring tools, and setting up the testing architecture and strategy to make sure that the quality of internet performance is measured accurately and that the policy objectives set in the regulatory policies are obtained.

If you would like to learn more about what a measurement study of your national internet performance could look like for you, please contact Franck Chevalier at Analysys Mason.