The seventh annual CTO Forum
Excellency Prime Minister
Delivering Broadband Connectivity for All
14 September 2009, Fiji
Malcolm Johnson, Director of the Telecommunication Standardiztion Bureau, ITU
CEO of CTO,
Acting Chairman of CTO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour to be invited to speak at this CTO Forum and it is an enormous privilege to be here in the beautiful islands of Fiji.
The distance that many of us have travelled to get here and the remoteness of these islands is a reminder of the unique challenges faced here in terms of communications.
Many in the Pacific islands are not benefiting from the emergence of the information society and its potential for economic and social development because of their remoteness and their scattered small populations.
ITU recognised in its Resolution 129 (Marrakesh, 2002) “that small island nations and communities face particular problems in bridging the digital divide”.
And as you all well know, matters have been made even more difficult recently with the current global economic crisis.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that progress is being made. Local governments, the CTO, ITU and our members are all helping developing nations to face these challenges and connect the world.
To bring affordable access, we must find ways to lower the cost of ICT infrastructure development and encourage industry investment. This includes sharing infrastructure wherever possible.
As for investment, the smaller size of markets in the Pacific region and their isolated populations mean fewer players and less competition. It is therefore essential that the necessary regulatory and financial frameworks exist to encourage investment.
Some progress has certainly been made in the mobile and internet markets where the introduction of competition has resulted in significant growth.
As ICT services spread, bringing advantages such as e-Health, e-Commerce and e-Government, the security of networks becomes increasingly important to build confidence in the use of ICTs. ITU has over 200 standards on security – and it is a constant fight against cyber crime.
And for any region to meet its connectivity targets, the spread of connectivity must go hand in hand with human capacity building. ITU conducts many workshops, tutorials, and projects to improve capacity building in the regions.
Honorable Prime Minister, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The ITU has been defining the standards used by the global technology industry since it was established in 1865.
The theme of this Forum is broadband connectivity, and it is the Internet access technologies standardized by ITU that have led us to the broadband revolution of today.
ITU’s standardized dial up modems gave many of us our first taste of the possibilities of the Internet, indeed in many parts of the world they remain the primary means of connectivity.
ISDN, standardized in ITU, was a glimpse of what was to come.
And now, digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies are bringing broadband into many of our homes. DSL was of course, also standardized by ITU.
ITU is committed to working with our members to find low-cost innovative solutions to bridging the digital divide, bringing these broadband technologies to the developing world.
To achieve our global vision of Connecting the World, we must Connect the Pacific and other parts of the world that face special connectivity challenges. For this, special targeted efforts are needed.
There are many projects underway in this regard. For example, with the support of Andorra, ITU is assisting several Pacific Islands with rural connectivity and ICT centres to serve the local community, including Tonga, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Marshall Islands.
At the same time, ITU has been assisting and will continue to help the Pacific Islands in improving their governance, policy, legal and regulatory environment with the support of Australia. These projects will further integrate early warning emergency telecommunications.
As well as spearheading the broadband revolution ITU is at the forefront of developing new technologies including so-called Next Generation Networks (NGN).
NGN packet-switched technology is bringing seamless connectivity and high-speed services over any network, and any device, worldwide.
For developing countries, NGN has the potential to accelerate the deployment of telecommunication networks and services offering the opportunity to jump several generations of technology.
This is because the capital cost of deploying NGN technology, both in the core of the network, and the operating costs, are significantly lower than circuit switched technologies.
NGN also has the potential to be a much greener technology, with estimates of power savings of 40% over legacy networks. NGN is therefore a very significant contributor to ITU’s efforts to promote the use of ICTs to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and fight climate change.
Of course climate change is a particular concern in this region. ITU is making a significant contribution to the global effort to mitigate climate change. I would like to draw your attention to our website which gives a lot of information on this and all ITU’s work. In particular we will be holding the first fully virtual symposium of ICTs and climate change on 23rd of this month, supported by Korea.
The ubiquitous network that will seamlessly connect anyone, anytime, anywhere, by anything, requires global standards, and a global standards body like ITU clearly has an increasing role to play.
Without these standards, global ICT development and deployment would be slow and inefficient. Recently we made all our standards (over 3000) available free of charge on our website.
The reason ITU was formed in 1865 was to ensure the interoperability of the innovative international telegraph service. Our aim remains the same to this day, even though it is now much more challenging with the increasing complexity of today’s telecommunications and ICT equipment and services.
This is why we are placing increasing efforts on ensuring interoperability of today’s equipment and services as will be explained at our joint ITU/CTO workshop here on Wednesday and Thursday. This is the second joint ITU and CTO event, the first being earlier this year in another beautiful island – Sri Lanka.
Honorable Prime Minister, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
While there are major challenges confronting the Pacific region, there is much enthusiasm and optimism among countries and partners. I am particularly pleased with our increasing partnership with CTO, not only because of my long involvement with the organization, but also because of our common membership and objectives.
I look forward to a stimulating discussion and learning from your experiences over the course of the week.