The ITU has recommended operators adopt infrastructure sharing strategies to help cope with the looming investment drought in the current uncertain economic climate.
'Sharing strategies are increasingly necessary to ensure that operators can deploy their networks at low cost while guaranteeing that consumers have access to affordable services,' said Sami Al Basheer, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau.
'Now, more than ever, sharing strategies make sense as operators are forced to reduce the costs of network deployment as they compete for scarce investment funds. This is a forward-looking perspective in light of the current financial and economic uncertainty.'
According to a recent ITU report, such strategies include sharing civil engineering costs in deploying networks, promoting open access essential facilities such as submarine cable landing stations and international gateways.
Operators could also agree to share network support infrastructure - such as poles, ducts, conduits - as well as access to radio-frequency spectrum and end-user devices.
'Sound business and regulatory practices will contribute to extracting the greatest possible value from existing levels of investment in the telecommunication and ICT sectors,' Al Basheer said.
The ITU has also developed a series of recommendations policy-makers who encounter a telecom investment drought.
Policy-makers should adopt rules for infrastructure sharing, and should also consider lowering investment barriers that inhibit capital flows from one country to another; reducing any regulatory barriers (such as high licence fees or market-entry bans) that could turn off investors; and amend regulatory frameworks which favour one operator or industry over another.