Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

BDT Director's Speeches

ITU-EC Regional Conference for Europe on Broadband Services and Infrastructure Mapping
Warsaw, Poland  11 April 2016

ITU-EC Regional Conference for Europe

on

"Broadband Services and Infrastructure Mapping"

in Partnership with the

Office of Electronic Communications of Republic of Poland

Warsaw, Poland, 11-12 April 2016

OPENING REMARKS

By

Mr. Brahima SANOU

Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

 

Your Excellency Magdalena Gaj, The President of the Office of Electronic Communications of Republic of Poland,

Excellences,

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure and privilege to join the host country in welcoming you to the opening of this Regional Conference for Europe jointly organized by ITU and European Commission in partnership with the Office of Electronic Communications of Republic of Poland.

On behalf of International Telecommunication Union, I say a big thank you to the National Regulatory Authority, and personally to its President, Her Excellency Ms Magdalena Gaj, for the great and longstanding cooperation in strengthening regional and global capacities in field of regulation. Many of you recall 2013, when Poland was the host of a major ITU conference the Global Symposium for Regulators, which so much appreciated by all the delegates. This is also the reason why my pleasure of coming back to your beautiful country on the occasion of this significant regional event is even greater. One more time thank you for the kind hospitality extended to all of us.

Let me also extend our thanks to the Government of Poland for its continued support and commitment to the cause of building an inclusive information society and congratulate you on the progress achieved so far. According to the newest data released in the Measuring Information Society Report 2015 and ICT Development Index 2015 released in December, Poland is amongst the leading broadband economies in central and eastern Europe, with robust and well developed backbone infrastructure, more than 150% mobile penetration rate and currently with the 4G infrastructure covering almost 90% of the population. Congratulations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a fact that Europe is one of the most dynamic and fast moving regions of the world in terms of ICT development. With an Internet penetration of 80% by the end 2015, Europe has the highest Internet penetration rate worldwide. In 2015 fixed broadband penetration rate, exceeded 30% and mobile broadband penetration rate in the region reached 80%. Even though Europe leads in the broadband challenge in the world, there are still significant differences at the regional level. A lot still remains to be done in order to make the provision of fast and ultra-fast Internet access universal across the region.

This is also the reason why in 2014 European Administrations identified broadband as one of the five regional initiatives adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2014 in Dubai. While designing its objectives, the mapping of broadband infrastructure across the region and monitoring of the quality of services were put high on the political agenda. Thus, it is my great pleasure to see here so many stakeholders engaged in making a real change at the regional level, sharing your national practices and heading towards harmonized mapping and monitoring for the region.

Today we are witnesses that broadband networks offer perhaps the greatest opportunity we have ever had to make the rapid and solid advances in global social and economic development – across all sectors, including healthcare, education, new job opportunities, transportation, agriculture, and trade and government services. Thus, we are all here to make it plausible, challengeable and tangible. 

Cross-sectoral cooperation, recognizing the enabling power of ICTs – and the necessity of them being incorporated in the sectoral strategies – as well as collaborative regulation, creating new regulatory and policy environment triggering growth of the ICT ecosystem have become more relevant than ever. This is also the reason why this year the Global Symposium for Regulators to be held from 11-14 June 2016 will focus on Building Blocks for Smart Societies in a Connected World and I encourage all regulators and other stakeholders to join this important international debate.

Broadband has become a critical infrastructure and an essential backbone of every economic sector. Without it the ICT services, from e-Health, e-Learning, e-Governance to e-Commerce and even m-Sport will not be able to cut costs and reshape, for the better, service delivery for many millions of individuals, particularly those living in in remote or rural areas of the world.

This is our responsibility to ensure that this infrastructure is robust, accessible and affordable to everyone. This is the reason why the mapping exercise on physical infrastructure as well as quality of services provided over the networks has becomes so essential for both, service providers and the end users.

Thanks to this, operators, policy makers and regulators are getting perfectly guided on investment opportunities, level of competition and necessity of policy and regulatory measures to be applied to fulfill universal access and service requirements.

On the other hand, even more important, it is about empowerment of end users. This is a new value proposition, thanks to which, by one click on the online mapping systems, they will be able to decide on the best option for broadband connectivity that can be provided to them in a given location. We talk here about real empowerment and boosting of the competition. In this context, we need to make sure that the tools applied are corresponding the international standards and provide concrete value to all stakeholders.

Mapping of broadband infrastructure is one of the priories of BDT that I personally put very high on our agenda. We have launched a global interactive transmission map that, thanks to engagement of several stakeholders, has become a unique global mapping platform to take stock of national backbone connectivity (optical fibers, microwaves and satellite earth stations) as well as of other key metrics of the ICT sector. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you all to join this global effort to ensure that information on your countries is reflected accordingly. My colleague will present this tool in details during the first session. 

Submarine cables are also to be mapped in partnership with TeleGeography. IXPs are also to be included soon on our agenda of activities.

Distinguished participants, speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I conclude, let me thank you for engaging in this important activity. I would like to thank the European Commission for its great cooperation in creating synergies between different actions undertaken at the regional level with a common goal of building a global ICT ecosystem and inclusive information society.

I would like to wish you all every success in implementing your goals and I look forward to very fruitful discussions and tangible outcomes.

I thank you.