ITU

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Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU) 15th General Conference of Ministers

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 21 March 2013

 
Address
 
Honourable Ministers
Secretary General, CTU
Permanent Secretaries
Director BDT
Distinguished delegates
Ladies and gentlemen

I would like to thank Bernadette Lewis, Secretary-General CTU for giving me this opportunity to speak to you this afternoon.
 
On Tuesday we had a very interesting day reviewing the outcome of the World Conference on International Telecommunication, held in Dubai last December, which revised the International Telecommunication Regulations.
 
It was important that following the joint CTU/ITU preparatory meeting held here last October, we should reflect on the outcome of the conference, the success of the regional proposals, and how the decisions taken can be implemented in the Caribbean region.
 
Last October we also prepared for the World Assembly for ITU’s Standardisation Sector (ITU-T), which preceded WCIT. The WTSA had the highest participation ever, and adopted 50 Resolutions, including the first-ever ITU Resolutions on e-health, software-defined networks (SDN), and e-waste. It re-emphasized and strengthened the ITU-T mandate in areas such as climate change, conformity and interoperability, and accessibility, and saw encouragement for greater engagement of academia in our work.
 
It also substantially revised Resolution 44 on Bridging the Standards Gap. This addresses facilitating developing country participation in the standards making activities of ITU. It is very important for developing countries to participate in the standard sector to ensure that their own specific requirements are taken into account, and that we produce standards not only suitable for developed countries, but also developing countries. Participation can influence the development of the standard, provides a better understanding of its capabilities, and how to implement it. We have been quite successful in this. Since 2007 there have been over 40 countries participating in ITU-T that had never previously participated. We facilitate their participation by offering fellowships to all our study group meetings, having more meetings in the regions, offering lower membership fee for companies from developing countries, and providing the possibility of remte participation to the meetings. My colleague Cleveland Thomas will talk more of this tomorrow, and I hope we will see increased participation in ITU-T from the Caribbean.
 
The presentations made on Tuesday are available on the CTU website and I hope they will help to explain the outcome of WCIT, and the impact on operators, regulators, and governments. There is some confusion over the legal implications of certain provisions, and I hope the presentations will help to clarify the outcome.
 
The new ITRs were signed by 89 of the 144 countries present in Dubai and authorized to sign, including all the CTU member countries participating in the conference. I believe it will be essential that we have all, or at least most, of the ITU Member States signed up to this treaty before it comes into force on 1 January 2015, and I hope that Tuesday’s event and the presentations on the website will at least encourage all the CTU’s members to accede.
 
I am pleased to say that Caribbean countries played a very active role in the proceedings. In particular, the CTU Secretary-General chaired one of the main groups, which dealt with many of the contentious issues. I believe this level of participation would not have happened had it not been for that preparatory meeting last October, which helped to develop the common positions and coordination mechanism for the Caribbean participants at the conference. In a large conference such as WCIT, with a Plenary plus 5 main committees, two working groups, 12 large ad hoc groups, and numerous informal groups, small delegations can get totally lost. So pooling the resources of the Caribbean delegations, and daily coordination meetings, is the only way for Caribbean countries to be able to follow the negotiations and influence the decisions.
 
I am very happy that our join preparatory event helped in this regard, as it is very important for the ITU that the Caribbean countries’ voice is heard. My colleagues and I will do all we can to help CTU in this role, especially in the preparations for the critical Plenipotentiary Conference next year, as well as the World Telecommunication Development Conference.
 
The new treaty requires Member States to encourage the application of relevant ITU-T standards (which we call Recommendations) by service providers and authorized operating agencies in many areas, including quality of service, international telecommunication numbering, international calling line identification, international roaming, safety-of-life telecommunications, emergency services, countering spam, energy-efficiency, e-waste and accessibility.
 
WCIT also called for ITU-T to study the regulatory, technical and economic issues, which need to be taken into consideration due to the transition from dedicated phone and data networks to converged IP-based networks.
 
It also called for Member States to work together to ensure the security and robustness of international telecommunication networks.
 
Let me just mention a few activities in relation to these topics that might particularly interest you.
 
We have a group, wch is looking at the lessons learned from recent natural disasters, ways of improving the resilience of telecommunication networks in such circumstances, by improving the standards as well as developing best practices on the practical implementation of networks. The last meeting was in Japan, which has learned a lot from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the next meeting will be in Thailand, which learned hard lessons from the catastrophic flooding in 2011. The group has also received a useful input from Samoa, which suffered a terrible cyclone at the end of last year. I am sure the work of this group would be particularly beneficial to this region.
 
Another activity that may be of interest is our programme on conformance and interoperability. International telecommunication services rely on the interoperability across borders of networks and services, and that is the purpose of the ITU’s standards.  However, especially in developing countries, there have been incidences of acquiring equipment based on proprietary standards, often poor quality, which does not interoperate with other manufactures’ equipment. This requires further purchasing of expensive upgrades and being locked into a single manufacturers equipment. To overcome this we have implemented what we call the conformance and interoperability programme.
 
The programme consists of four pillars:
    1. conformance assessment;
    2. interoperability events;
    3. human resource and capacity building;
    4. assistance in the establishment of regional test centres in developing countries.
 
The two Bureaux of the ITU, the Standardization Bureau and the Development Bureau are working together on implementing this programme, with the assistance of the ITU regional offices.
 
The first pillar calls for the population of an ITU Conformance Database open to the public, which will give companies an opportunity to make a public declaration of a product’s conformance with ITU-T Recommendations. This will allow prospective buyers of ICT products to determine whether or not a product conforms to the international standards.
 
ITU is, in addition, preparing a report on measures to reduce counterfeiting, and is planning to hold a workshop on best practices in this regard. The conclusions of the report and workshop will feed into the development of ITU guidelines on institutional and regulatory frameworks for conformance testing regimes.
 
While conformance with international standards certainly increases the likelihood of interoperability, it does not necessarily guarantee it. The second pillar therefore is to conduct “Interoperability Events” In which different manufacturers come together to test the interoperability of their products.
 
The third pillar of the programme is human resource and capacity building. We organize courses in partnership with organizations in a host country, and here the ITU Regional Offices play an important role in identifying these partner organizations.
 
These courses draw on the expertise of ITU’s global membership, covering policy, business and technical aspects of conformance assessment.
 
The fourth pillar aims to assist in the establishment of test centres in the regions. We have guidelines on building test facilities in developing countries, based on a pilot project in Tanzania.
 
The fourth pillar will also promote the establishment of inter-regional Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) so that all the countries in the regions accept the test results from any of the regional test centres.
 
ITU has a set of guidelines for the development, implementation and management of MRAs, which have become very important in the context of international standardization commitments made by the membership of the World Trade Organization under its Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
 
Collaboration with the many organisations involved in conformance testing is essential for the successful implementation of this programme, and we are fortunate to have the support of our sister organisation UNIDO.
 
The success of the programme will contribute to the growth of local ICT markets by lowering procurement costs for operators and thereby encouraging the deployment of advanced telecommunications networks. Consumers will benefit through lower prices and an improved quality of ICT products and services; and economies will lose far less money to counterfeit goods, a major problem in many developing countries.
 
Finally, I would like to mention the work of our study group on the environment and climate change: ITU-T Study Group 5. This group has produced a number of standards to reduce energy consumption, most notably the universal mobile phone charger, and a universal charger for all mobile devices. It has also produced recommendations on conflict minerals, a methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from the ICT industry, and is working on a standard for a universal mobile phone battery.
 
The study group also produces recommendations on the protection of outside plant from environmental damage, and guidelines on safe installation of transmitting sites.
 
The study group has also developed an “EMF-estimator” which is a software application that implements the methodology in Recommendation ITU-T K.70 on “Mitigation techniques to limit human exposure to EMFs in the vicinity of radiocommunication stations”. This application calculates the cumulative radio frequency exposure levels in the vicinity of transmitting antennas, and presents the results on a Google map.
 
There are many more interesting activities in the ITU-T Sector that I do not have time to mention but some of these will be shown in Cleveland’s presentation tomorrow.
 
I very much hope to see increased participation from this region, including from universities, which are now quite active in ITU-T.
 
If you would like further information or have any questions I would be happy to oblige.
 
Let me close by reiterating what my colleague Brahima Sanou said last night, that ITU appreciates very much the close working relationship with CTU, and we will do all we can to support the CTU Secretary-General Bernadette Lewis, and the President of CTU, Honourable Dr. Rupert Griffiths, in their efforts to bring the benefits of the information society to the people of the Caribbean.
 
We thank you for inviting us to be with you this week, your welcome and hospitality. It has been a great pleasure as always.Let me close by reiterating what my colleague Brahima Sanou said last night: that ITU appreciates very much the close working relationship with CTU, and we will do all we can to support the CTU Secretary General and the President in their efforts to bring the benefits of the information society to the peoples of the Caribbean.
We thank you for inviting us to be with you this week, your welcome and generous hospitality. It has been a pleasure as always.