Distinguished colleagues and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here today to address this ASTAP meeting.
I would like to thank very much Toshiyuki Yamada, Secretary General of APT for the invitation to this prestigious event and also Dr. Safavi of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Chairman of APT Standardization Program (ASTAP), who is going to be the Chair of APT’s WTSA preparatory group.
2012 will be a very busy and important year for ITU. In addition to the World Radio Conference at the beginning of the year there are two other very important events. I am referring of course to WTSA and WCIT.
The dates and venue for these events have been approved by the recent session of Council. I am happy to confirm that they will be held back to back in Dubai, in November and December next year. WTSA will take place from 20 – 29 November 2012. WTSA will be preceded by the Global Standards Symposium on 19 November. After WTSA, WCIT will follow from 3 – 14 December 2012.
I would like to take the opportunity today to update you on the preparation for WTSA and WCIT.
The WTSA defines the next period of study for ITU-T, and preparations for WTSA-12 will take place throughout next year, notably in the form of regional preparatory meetings.
The WTSA will also review working methods including approval processes; the work programme; and the structure of study groups.
Global standards are only truly global if developing country needs are taken into account.
Regional preparatory meetings are a proven platform for the development of successful proposals. They are the best opportunity for regional groups to coordinate proposals.
I am very appreciative of APT’s initiative in hosting these events.
At the last WTSA – held in Johannesburg in 2008 - ITU members asked for increased emphasis on key areas such as ICTs and climate change, the deployment of IPv6, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, conformance and interoperability testing, and encouraging academic participation in ITU’s work.
I am pleased to report that we have fulfilled this mandate with many game changing announcements in the last four years – particularly in the field on climate change.
Also in Dubai on the day before WTSA starts we will host a Global Standards Symposium (GSS).
GSS is a high level one day symposium held the day before WTSA. The first ever GSS took place prior to WTSA-08 in Johannesburg and was very successful, attracting nearly 500 participants.
The website for WTSA-12 will be updated with information on the GSS, candidatures for study group management roles, practical and other information.
The WCIT will be held immediately after the WTSA, and will be the first event of its kind since the conference in Melbourne in 1988 which produced the current International Telecommunication Regulations, the famous ITRs.
The WCIT is being held at the request of membership, to look at ways to revise the current ITRs.
The ITRs have served us well – particularly by facilitating the liberalization of telecommunications services – but there is general agreement that they now need to be updated to reflect the significant changes that have taken place in the ICT sector over the past two decades.
I think we can all agree that light regulation is necessary.
We can see that emerging topics for discussion are those that affect us all and are relevant to the global ICT sector:
Also likely to be a hot topic is number misuse – which I know is a concern in this region. Alignment of national laws on the misuse and hijacking of international numbers and calling party number delivery, would seem to be a desirable goal of the ITRs.
- Human right of access to communication
- Security in the use of ICTs and protection of critical national resources
- Charging and accounting (including taxation)
- International frameworks
- Conformance and interoperability
- Quality of service
- Enforcement measures
Back in 1988, the three key pillars underpinning telecoms were time, distance, and location. These have all become almost entirely irrelevant in terms of global telecoms services today.
Changes in the landscape also include the liberalization and privatization of much of the telecommunications sector since 1988, and also the increasing convergence of technologies and services, which blur the traditional distinctions between telecoms and computer technology – and between voice, video and data traffic.
The 1988 agreement had the positive effect of allowing the liberalizing of existing international infrastructure, permitting it to be used competitively and efficiently, and creating the conditions that helped get the Internet going.
It is important to recognize however that the market would never have created that much infrastructure in the first place. The industry was able to take advantage of the extensive infrastructure that had been built under monopoly regimes.
There is clearly a need for coordination / consolidation between agencies at both the national and international levels, and there may be a need for common frameworks.
There should be a level playing field at both the national and the international level, to avoid abuse of power by dominant national and large international players.
There is a risk of an increasing ‘infrastructure gap’ – we are already seeing data volumes increasing much faster than the infrastructure needed to carry it.
At the ITU’s most recent Plenipotentiary Conference, in October 2010, ITU membership confirmed that a Council Working Group would continue to look at proposals for reviewing the ITRs.
This group is engaged on the process of reviewing inputs from ITU Member States, and is expected to present a new draft potential treaty for discussion and negotiation at WCIT.
The final meeting of CWG-WCIT12 will take place 20-22 June 2012 and publication of its report will be on 29 June 2012 (5 months prior to WCIT)
Member States are asked to submit their proposals for the work of the conference at least four months before the start of WCIT-12, that is by 3 August 2012.
The goal of this exercise is to take agreed messages and elevate them to treaty level.
And the purpose of this treaty will be to harmonize national laws and leverage the clear benefits of joined-up government and mutually-agreed frameworks.
WCIT will express the common will of ITU’s membership. Like any global conference, it will do well when membership finds consensus.
We are reaching out to the entire multi-stakeholder community for input to WCIT, because the ITRs affect every person on the planet.
WCIT will find win-win solutions which will act as a beneficial catalyst for the future development of the whole sector.
In the interests of sustainable and equitable growth of global ICTs I would strongly urge you all to take a continued and active role in the preparation process.