Purpose - To review the relationship between the nature of telecommunications sector reform and the commitments under the WTO, and determine the impact on sector performance. Design/methodology/approach - A model is developed which links sector reforms and WTO commitments. Publicly available, data are then used to populate the model and explore the correlations between sector reform, WTO commitments and sector performance. Findings - The empirical analysis suggests a strong and positive correlation between positive changes in sector performance and sector reform supported by WTO commitments. Research limitations/implications - The sequencing of the reform agenda and the use of WTO commitments as part within the political economy of a particular country are important issues which future research may consider. The lack of consistent cross-sectional data prevented the adoption of more formal econometric analysis. Practical implications - The paper highlights the close integration of a number of policy measures if sector reform within a country is to be successful. The role of the WTO commitments may be significant not only in shaping the details of internal policy measures, but also as a credibility signal to investors. Originality/value - In light of the Doha round of negotiations within the WTO, in particular the "Singapore Agenda", this paper makes a significant contribution to understanding the relationship between WTO commitments and reform of the telecommunications sector.