Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honour to open this event entitled “The Future of Voice” within the framework
of the ITU New Initiatives Programme. On behalf of Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré, and myself, we welcome you to this meeting.
My pleasure at being with you today is two-fold.
This is the first high-level meeting
I am opening as the new ITU Deputy Secretary-General. Secondly, I have full confidence
that the issues to be discussed over the next two days correspond to the expectations
of our Member States. During the recent Plenipotentiary Conference, our Member States
confirmed the broad mandate of the Union and expressed their interest in projects
of strategic value for the expansion of the telecommunication/information technology
sector. In this respect, I look forward to the outcomes of this event as an important
contribution to the work of the Union.
Why this subject, and why now?
For many years, voice services have played a key role as the principal driver of
telecom operators’ revenues. Nevertheless, this situation is now changing rapidly,
meriting closer investigation of the issues and challenges facing the industry as
Migration to the all-IP infrastructure is progressing very fast and IP-enabled ubiquitous
networks are gradually replacing older infrastructures worldwide. Thanks in part
to this migration, convergence is also becoming a reality at every level -- for
example, between voice and data, fixed and mobile, and telecoms/internet/TV industry.
Delivery of multiple different services over one network is no longer a technical
challenge. In fact,
in many countries, it is now regarded as the new standard.
However, migration to an all-IP environment is not
only a technical issue. It
significantly impacts the performance of the sector, market structure, competition and regulation.
The advantages made possible by IP-enabled technologies represent a new source of
competitive environment and have driven network operators to invest in multibillion
dollar modernization programmes, re-engineer their existing business models and
introduce new services with the potential to generate future streams of revenue.
Innovation and new technologies offer prospects of enhanced economic growth. Nevertheless,
policy-makers, regulators, and users groups around the globe have to seriously consider
how to best protect and promote public interest in a converged IP-enabled communications
environment, as traditional concepts of “voice” as a universal service continue
to evolve. Indeed, it is in fact questionable whether voice communication will remain
a marketable commodity over the near future and whether network access will be affordable
In these new circumstances, existing regulatory paradigms need to be adjusted to
the requirements of this new, converged telecommunication/information technology
sector, where boundaries between the telecommunications, internet or TV industry
are blurring and seem likely to disappear, changing the structure of the traffic
over the networks. Sensitive to the complexity of the issues and polarization of
viewpoints, policy-makers and communication regulators have to date taken a cautious
approach. And this brings us to why we are here, to exchange views as to how the
future of the voice will develop in an ubiquitous IP-enabled environment in different
regions around the globe and how best to respond to these developments.
ITU has commissioned various background papers which will be presented during the
workshop, which we hope will be of assistance in shaping an improved understanding
complex issues before us.
As to the nature of this event, I would like to emphasize that this meeting is informal
and we seek to encourage an open and frank debate among the many experts present today.
I should like to also mention that this event is being webcast live over the internet
and video archives will be available on the website, along with all presentations
and materials presented during these two days. The main output of the event will
be a Chairman’s Report which will attempt to summarize the different perspectives
put forward during the event.
Having checked the programme I have found a very good team of speakers of high competency.
I would like to express appreciation for having accepted our invitation to participate
in this event.
Now, I would like to introduce to you the Chairman for this event, Dr. Glenn Woroch.
He is doubtless well-known to many of you, but by way of a brief introduction, Dr.
Woroch is a Professor and Executive Director at the Center for Research on Telecommunications
Policy, a university-based research center focusing on strategy, management and
policy issues in telecommunications, computing and electronic mass media in Berkeley,
USA. Dr .Woroch has had an impressive career in the telecom policy debate. He has
been an economic advisor to government agencies including the U.S. Department of
Energy and Justice and the Office of Technology Assessment. Dr. Woroch has published
numerous articles in the fields of industrial organization, antitrust and regulation
in scholarly journals.
Dr Woroch, I am wondering if I could invite you to consider some other important
topics. For example, how we can encourage worldwide operators and other agencies
to invest in infrastructure while incomes and revenues are decreasing from the current
infrastructure under current business models. I hope in the future we could organize
a workshop to address these new challenges.
Dr. Woroch, let me wish you success in chairing this high level meeting.