His Majesty, the King of Spain
Mr. Juan Clos i Matheu, Minister of Industry, Tourism and
Mr. Francisco Ros Perán, Secretary of State for
Telecommunications and the Information Society
Mr. Enrique Gutierrez Bueno, Dean and President of the Official
College of Telecommunications Engineers
Ladies and gentlemen
I wish to express to you my gratitude for the kind invitation to
be a guest speaker on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of
the 1932 Madrid Conferences. I am especially delighted to see so
many ITU friends and partners present today for this
With His Majesty’s indulgence, I take this opportunity to remind
the audience of his commitment to ITU by recalling his gracious
act of honoring us with his presence at the official opening
ceremony of ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva.
The Madrid Convention was signed on December 9, 1932. Since this
celebration marks an historic event, allow me to share some
historic details about the Conferences.
Seventy-five years ago, the 13th International Telegraph
Conference and the 4th International Radiotelegraph Conference
met simultaneously in Madrid.
Both Conferences began their work on September 3, 1932. The
Radiotelegraph Conference held its final session on December 9,
and the Telegraph Conference held its final session on December
Some 80 countries and 62 private companies and private
international organizations participated in the Telegraph
Conference. While 65 countries and 64 private companies and
private international organizations were represented at the
Radiotelegraph Conference. Today, we have 191 Member States and
700 Sector Members and Associates.
Mr. Santiago Cesares Quiroga, Spanish Minister of Interior, was
appointed Chairman, the Director of the Bureau, Dr. Räber, was
appointed the Chairman’s counselor and the Vice Director of the
Bureau, Mr. Scwill, was appointed Secretary-General.
The most important achievement of the Madrid Conference was the
creation of a single convention containing the general
principles considered to be common to the telegraph, telephone
and radio services.
It was apparent from the beginning of the Conference that a very
large majority of the delegations present favored the creation
of a single convention. However, the drafting procedures and the
provisions it was to contain caused many heated arguments.
Complete drafts of a single convention were submitted by Greece,
Italy, the International Bureau, and the Comité international de
la télégraphie sans fil. The most important draft, in view of
its objectivity, was the one presented in the name of the
International Bureau, by its then Vice-Director Mr. Boulanger.
The Convention, adopted here in Madrid, included the following
- the Telegraph Regulations;
- the Telephone Regulations and
- the Radio Regulations.
It was a combination of the 1927 Radiotelegraph Convention
and the 1875 Telegraph Convention. No major innovations were
introduced and most articles remained quite general in their
scope. However, Article 1 created the International
Telecommunication Union which replaced the International
The following definition was adopted for the new term
telecommunication: “Any telegraph, or telephone communication of
signs, signals, writings, images, and sounds of any nature, by
wire, radio, or other systems or processes of electric or visual
This definition shows exceptional foresight on the part of the
delegates because it continues to define the multimedia world in
which we live today.
It also covers the Information Society, which is embodied in the
outcome documents of the World Summit on the Information Society
(WSIS) which took place in two phases in Geneva in 2003 and
Tunis in 2005.
We can proudly say that the Madrid Conference will safely bring
us to towards the Knowledge Societies of the not too distant
Where do we go from here?
In about two weeks, the Radio Regulations from the Madrid
Conference will undergo the most important revisions since 1947
when the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference opens on 22
October in Geneva. The Conference will facilitate the
development of broadband wireless access technologies such as
Wi-Fi and WiMAX which promise new ways of bridging the digital
divide. Flexibility in spectrum allocation and management would
allow these technologies to really take off.
The Telegraph Regulations and Telephone Regulations, mentioned
earlier and now known as the International Telecommunication
Regulations, are scheduled for a major revision in 2012. This
decision was taken at the last Plenipotentiary Conference in
Antalya in 2006) with the adoption of Resolution 146, which
calls for a world conference on international
One of the reasons for this conference is that legacy,
single-purpose networks are being replaced by broadband
next-generation networks (NGN). These new networks can carry any
combination of voice, data and multimedia (graphics, video and
audio), in any format. Broadband is as different from standard
voice telephony as telephony is from the telegraph services of
150 years ago.
Just like the Madrid Conference, today’s conferences continue to
challenge us to move forward in our respective fields. What is
different now is that we have people and nations waiting for ITU
to act. Since information and communication technologies (ICT)
are the tools necessary for e-health, e-government, e-education
or e-business, the whole United Nations family is relying on ITU
to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
My personal concern is that we are less than 8 years away from
2015 the milestone for achieving the MDGs. What should we do?
Today, the upsurge in information and communication technologies
(ICT) is contributing to the information society. During ITU’s
142-year history, people have gone from walking to the nearest
post office to send telegraphs, to sending faxes from machines
in their offices, and now to sending multimedia messages from
their computers and mobile devices. Communication tools are
coming closer and closer to the end user.
In the early 1980s, telecommunications meant mainly fixed
telephone lines or telex, with fax just beginning to be used.
The use of mobile phones was also being launched in a few
countries. The World Wide Web was still a research project. Now
there are more than 4 billion fixed and mobile subscribers and
over 1 billion Internet users worldwide.
The importance of communications has continued to grow over the
last twenty years. In the emerging information society, the
creation and distribution of information have become an
important economic and cultural activity. Information and
knowledge are one of the major sources of wealth.
Of course, technology alone will not solve the world’s problems.
But it is certainly one of the most important tools that can
help to create a better society. I believe that in the
information society, no human being should be left behind. I
also believe that if we all pool our resources, we can bridge
the development gap, meet the Millennium Development Goals, and
create a just and sustainable information society for all.
We must all work together with governments, the private sector,
civil society, and multilateral organizations. In this context,
I would like to make reference to an innovation in Paragraph 4
of Art.18 of the Madrid Convention, which allows for the
participation of private operating companies in each
administrative conference in an advisory capacity. As you can
see for yourselves, ITU was a multi-stakeholder institution was
before the term was used in the UN System.
The ITU mission is to ensure that ICT are put at the service of
all people, regardless of language, culture, gender or
geographic location. A large number of people around the world
are still without access to communication networks. Since
information and communication are the main preconditions for the
economic and cultural development of any society, it is our duty
to bridge the digital divide. We, at the ITU, plan to achieve
this through our Connect the World initiative. We will begin
this year with Connect Africa and then move to other regions of
the world one at a time: Latin America and the Caribbean and the
Connect Africa, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 29 and
30 October 2007, will be launched under the patronage of His
Excellency Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, with the
support of Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, in partnership
with the World Bank and the Global Alliance for ICT for
Development (GAID), led by Mr. Craig Barrett, the Chairman of
Intel, and other development agencies, and the UN family.
Connect Africa will not be a summit of resolutions; it will be a
summit of actions based on the fact that the development of ICTs
does not rely on charity but on sharp sense of business.
When talking about access to information, the future is
definitely broadband communications. And one of the major
challenges facing the global ICT community is bringing broadband
to the all of the world citizens.
The vast majority of today’s broadband users are in the
industrialized world. But broadband deployment is expanding in
the developing world as well. Broadband is one of the key tools
for development, because it increases the potential for
generating content that is relevant to communities and produced
in their languages. Eventually, people in even the remotest
areas could become broadcasters and educators in their own
communities and the wider world. We would, in fact, be going
beyond information societies to create knowledge societies.
The rise of the Internet itself or the incredible take-off of
short message service (SMS), which took the world by storm, are
enough to remind us of one thing: that it is often the
creativity of the users on the ground, rather than the foresight
of market analysts, that sparks the beginning of a
groundbreaking new trend. And understanding the global impact
and demand for technologies is fast becoming a benchmark for
successful investment and development. In this light, it seems
indispensable to exchange and look at ways in which people and
institutions around the globe have been using technologies to
improve their work and lives.
We have another important challenge. We must build confidence
and security in the use of ICTs. This is known as Action Line C5
of the Tunis Agenda of WSIS, for which ITU is the facilitator.
Moreover, Paragraph 42 of the Tunis Agenda for the Information
Society requires that measures undertaken to ensure Internet
stability and security, to fight cybercrime and to counter spam,
must protect and respect the provisions for privacy and freedom
This is why, on 17 May this year, I launched the Global
Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA). It is a multi-stakeholder framework
that will build on existing initiatives, partners and take full
advantage of recognized sources of expertise. Its purpose is two
fold --to identify commonly agreed global challenges to
Cybersecurity and build national ICT security and emergency
response centers regionally and globally.
The process started in Geneva last week, on 5 October, when the
first meeting of the High Level Expert Group on Cybersecurity
will be held. The anticipated outcome of this process is a
framework to achieve the objectives of building confidence and
security in the use of ICTs.
To conclude, the Madrid Telecommunication Convention, , laid a
strong foundation for today’s ITU. We will continue to build on
this foundation whether to bridge the digital divide or ensure
peace in cyberspace. We will remain grateful to Spain for its
ITU’s own expertise in the area of information and communication
technologies and applications is a great resource for the world
community. And we look forward to Spain’s continued commitment
to the ITU noble mission to connect the world.
Together let’s build the Information Society that we are all