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Global Telecom Regulatory Trends, Policies and Practices: Session VI, Regulatory and Policy Environment
 India Telecom  11 December 2008 
Good afternoon Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be with you today. I am very pleased to be in India at this time. Last week I was in Hyderabad for the Internet Governance Forum. It was an extremely well organized event and very well attended. This week in Delhi, we have another well organized event well attended. It shows that the barbaric atrocities perpetuated in Mumbai has not diminished the vibrant spirit of India, nor the international solidarity against terrorism.

Ladies and gentlemen I will spend some time putting into the wider context some of the issues you have been discussing this week.

The ITU was formed in 1865 to develop global regulations on the rapid roll out of the new innovative technology of the time - international telegraphic communications. Interoperability of international communications could only be assured by international treaties, and this of course remains the case today. Although ITU is now dealing with a far more complex situation, the need for globally harmonised regulations, policies and practices on the use and operation of telecommunications services is as great today as it was in 1865.

ITU treaties on the use of the radio spectrum and international telecommunications are the framework for today’s telecommunications and broadcasting services, as well as the Internet.

ITU’s Radio Regulations is an international treaty updated every four years at World Radiocommunication Conferences and specifies the allocation of the radio spectrum and geostationary orbit to various services throughout the world, as well as the technical, operating and sharing conditions that must be met. Clearly reaching treaty level text on such complex issues amongst ITU’s 191 government members is no easy task.

The International Telecommunication Regulations was adopted in 1988 and has served the industry well. However it is now under review and a World Conference on International Telecommunications is planned for 2012.

As part of the preparations we are organizing a World Telecommunications Policy Forum next May to review the International Telecommunication Regulations, taking into account convergence, Next-Generation Networks, and the emerging global regulatory and policy issues.

Ladies and gentlemen, India has experience phenomenal growth in its subscriber base, particularly mobile subscribers, in recent years. However for the Indian telecommunications industry to be truly sustainable a complete ecosystem needs to be developed. This means that in addition to your mass market, you need a solid R&D base, research centres and academia specializing in telecommunications, a manufacturing base and active participation in the development of global standards, as well as active participation in the development of new global regulatory policies. This is why I was pleased to learn of the Telecom Centres of Excellence, and the Hon. Prime Minister speaking of the need to develop India’s own manufacturing base. Minister of State Chavan in the First Session yesterday also spoke of the need for India to become more involved in standards making.

Comparisons are often made with China, and we in ITU are very much looking forward to India matching China’s participation in ITU’s standards making and other activities. Currently there is a huge disparity.

I would hope that the multinational companies based in India will support their Indian engineers participating in our work.

We are making every effort to facilitate more countries, in particular developing countries, to participate in our standards work. We call this bridging the standardization gap and it is one of our major objectives. Participation in the development of standards enables countries to ensure their own requirements are taken into account, and will assist in the implementation of standards in their own countries. It also gives them a level playing field to enter into the global market place.

ITU’s global technical standards are developed by and agreed primarily by its private sector members – around 700 private sector entities are members of ITU. We currently have around 3500 standards which we call Recommendations.

Last year we made all our standards available for downloading free of charge from our website. In 2006 we sold just 500 copies to developing countries but with the introduction of free downloading over 600,000 copies were downloaded to developing countries in just 12 months.

Global Standards are only successful if equipment on the global market complies to them of course. ITU is placing greater emphasis on the need for conformity to its standards and the recent World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly has agreed to my suggestion that ITU study the introduction of an ITU Mark on equipment that has been shown to conform to our standards. The intention is that this would assist developing countries in their choice of equipment procurement and increase the probability of interoperability.

To make participation easier we are encouraging more countries to host our meetings, so participants do not always need to travel to Geneva, and we now provide for remote participation though audio video links using GoToMeeting or Webex.

We also hold numerous workshops around the world on global regulatory policies and practices, or on the latest technologies. As with all ITU workshops these are open to anyone to attend and are free of charge.

We also have a number of Focus Groups open to any organisation to participate in fully even if they are not ITU members to addressing some key new issues. One such group is addressing the need for ICTs to contribute to the global effort on mitigating climate change. We are making a lot of effort on reducing emissions through energy savings and are addressing other environmental issues.

We are also looking at ways to increase accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, both physical disabilities as well as socio-economic disabilities. ITU’s mission is to connect the world and we have extensive programmes and activies aimed at achieving this goal which is essential if the Millennium Development Goals are going to be achieved by 2015.

Innovative technology often originates in research institutes and academia. This is why we launched a new initiative this year called Kaleidoscope. The event, co-sponsored with the IEEE Communications Society, attracted over 140 papers from its call for papers. These papers highlighted technologies, services and applications that will capitalize on the NGN infrastructure five years and beyond and lead to the ubiquitous network society. The three best papers were awarded prizes totaling US-$10,000. It was such a success that we will be repeating it each year in a different region of the world. Next year it will be hosted by the government of Argentina.

We also produce a number of Reports available on our website such as the annual “Trends” report which this year was entitled: Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2008: Six Degrees of Sharing.

Sharing strategies are conducive to infrastructure development in the telecommunications/ICT sector, particularly in light of this deepening global financial crisis.

As India has shown, mobile infrastructure sharing can lower the cost of network deployment, especially in rural, less populated or economically marginalized areas.

I would also encourage you to view the ICT Regulation Toolkit developed by ITU together with infoDev available on our website.

The toolkit is a live resource for policy-makers, regulators, the telecom industry, and consumers.

It provides a global overview of how telecom policy is best implemented with practical materials highlighting experience and results.

ITU is committed to working with Member States and to assisting regulators in marshalling the regulatory expertise they need to navigate these difficult seas.

Each year ITU holds a Global Symposium for Regulators where the world’s regulators come together at the highest level, to exchange best practices, and TRAI has always been an active participant in these global gatherings.

And we applaud India’s forward thinking strategic lead here.

For this and many other reasons we see that India is truly becoming a global ICT force.

We hope that India’s contribution to the work of developing global regulatory policies and standards will soon become commensurate with its position in the marketplace.

Thank you for your attention.


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Updated : 2008-12-15