Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all very much for joining us here today for the opening of the 2012 Global Symposium for Regulators and the Global Regulators and Industry Dialogue.
This is a very important event for the global telecommunications regulatory community – and an equally important event for the development of information and communication technologies worldwide.
It is the decisions that are made by national regulators – of which there are now 159 worldwide – that shape the market conditions for the growth of information and communication services.
These decisions are vital in helping create an environment that will foster healthy competition and ensure that consumers get the best deal possible, in terms of pricing, network coverage and choice of service packages.
And these regulatory decisions are equally important in ensuring there is an attractive climate for private sector investment, so that operators and infrastructure builders have the right incentives to invest and innovate to create new networks and services.
As the United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technology, ITU is committed to helping connect all the world’s people. That commitment saw us launch this important symposium just over 10 years ago, and I am very happy to see that under the Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr Brahima Sanou, this event continues to go from strength to strength, growing in influence worldwide as THE single unmissable annual gathering of the global regulatory community.
Here in Sri Lanka, you are very fortunate in having a very positive climate for ICT growth, thanks to the active efforts of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, and we will hear more about that in just a moment from the TRCSL Chairman, Mr Weeratunga.
But let me take this opportunity to hail the success of TRCSL in putting Sri Lanka at the forefront of new technologies like broadband mobile, which will be such a vital bridge to the emerging, technology-based Knowledge Societies.
Sri Lanka’s very positive ICT development is a clear indicator of the success of the plans and strategies adopted by the government as part of its vision of making Sri Lanka one of Asia’s ‘digital star performers’ and an important new regional Knowledge Hub.
Broadband was launched very early here – way back in 2003 – and since then Sri Lanka has continued to keep pace with the developed world, embracing new and evolving technologies such as 3G, 3.5G, and now trial LTE networks.
Strong competition among mobile broadband operators has already pushed the price of mobile broadband down to a very low level. And in addition, the government has been very proactive in preparing a draft National Broadband Policy to support the delivery of high-speed services, not just to well-off city dwellers, but to marginalized groups such as isolated communities and persons with disabilities as well.
Through our Asia Pacific Regional Office and our Regulatory and Market Environment Division in Geneva, ITU continues to have a very proactive and productive working relationship with Sri Lanka, with a number of important projects and activities already achieved or now underway.
I will let the Director of our Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr Brahima Sanou, tell you more about those in just a moment, but as I have just travelled from New York, where I co-hosted the 6th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, let me just say how pleased I am to highlight a brand new broadband Case Study on Sri Lanka, which was presented to the officials of that meeting, and which we are launching today.
This Case Study was developed in partnership with TRCSL, and highlights the tremendous efforts your regulator is making to ensure Sri Lankans right across the country enjoy easy and affordable access to this transformative technology. You can obtain an electronic copy, along with our brand new global State of Broadband report, from Sarah.
So with no further ado, I would like now to hand over to my esteemed colleague, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, who is doing ITU the honour of serving as Chairman of this 12th GSR.