Interview with Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau,
Mr Brahima Sanou
What is the Global Symposium of Regulators? Why is it given so much importance?
The ITU Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) is a unique high level platform to foster constructive exchange of information among national regulatory authorities and key ICT stakeholders on the most important and pressing regulatory subjects.
Prior to the GSR, the Global Industry Leaders’ Forum (GILF) will be held on 20 September, providing a neutral platform for ITU Sector Members to share their views on major regulatory issues facing the ICT sector. This positive exchange facilitates the sharing of regulatory best practices among participants.
Since its launch in 2000, the annual GSR has brought together heads of national telecom/ICT regulatory authorities from around the world and has earned a reputation as the global annual venue for regulators to share their views and experiences. The meeting fosters an open dialogue between the worldwide community of regulators and key ICT stakeholders. Its outcome has a global impact on the development and growth of telecommunications and ICT.
What is the focus for the Global Symposium of Regulators?
The GSR and GILF focus on a specific theme being tackled by the global ICT regulatory community. The needs and concerns of the regulators are reflected in the selection of the theme, based on proposals and consultations during and after the last edition of the event. The theme of this year’s GSR and GILF is Smart Regulation for a Broadband World aims at promoting smart regulatory measures to achieve broadband for all, foster innovation, and address the complexities and challenges of the broadband ecosystem.
What specific areas of the broadband environment will GSR address?
The 11th GSR will address the complexities of the broadband ecosystem, and explore:
- m-banking services and the role of regulators
- wireless broadband spectrum pricing
- satellite regulation
- open access regulation; setting national broadband policies, strategies and plans
- financing universal access/service
- e-waste and recycling and the role of regulators
- protecting the rights, such as intellectual property rights, of all stakeholders in a digital ecosystem
- regional initiatives to foster broadband connectivity
All these issues are examined in GSR discussion papers. These papers and other ITU reports will be posted in advance of the meeting on the GSR website: www.itu.int/gsr11. The discussion papers are then published in the annual flagship publication Trends in Telecommunication Reform.
Each GSR concludes with the adoption of a set of best practice guidelines which are developed through a consultation process led by the GSR Chairman. The GSR-11 best practice guidelines will emphasize innovative regulatory approaches that policy makers and regulators can take to advance the deployment of broadband networks, encourage innovation and extend digital literacy to enable digital inclusion of all in a broadband world.
Affordable access, appropriate technology as well as content and applications that meet consumer needs will be key to broadband uptake around the world, including in developing countries. Governments will have to strike a fine balance between implementing policies and regulations that promote widespread and affordable access to broadband while stimulating demand without imposing burdensome regulation that may inhibit investment and innovation.
Are there any particular reasons why regulators should attend this year?
The theme and topics to be discussed at GSR-11 are extremely relevant as the world moves forward towards the rollout of broadband and next-generation networks (NGN). Every year we look into some traditional, core regulatory issues as well as new and emerging areas of regulatory involvement. This year we will address, on the one hand, spectrum valuation, the financing of universal access and open access policies and, on the other, explore new ground in the sessions dedicated to e-waste, m-banking and intellectual property rights.
In keeping with ITU’s commitment to connect the world, the thrust now is to drive content through enhanced broadband access aimed at establishing the information and communication highways — networks that will feed both rural communities and urban centres with the means to meet their development goals and aspirations.
We have seen phenomenal increases in mobile connections, with over 5.3 billion subscriptions worldwide. ITU has announced the next generation of standards for global wireless broadband communications, known as IMT-Advanced which will become the new benchmark for mobile telephony in the coming years.
The discussion initiated during GSR and GILF will likely continue at ITU Telecom World 2011 in October this year, where the Broadband Leadership Summit will bring together Heads of State and Government, members of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development and other key players to discuss today’s global and regional issues relating to broadband.
Why was Colombia chosen as the venue for this year’s GSR/GILF? Who made that decision?
With a global event such as GSR/GILF, rotation between regions is our approach. As for most ITU events, we count on the kind invitation of one of our Member States to host the event. Last year we held GSR in Dakar, Senegal and earlier in Beirut, Lebanon and Pattaya, Thailand.
GSR/GILF-2011 in Colombia brings the symposium for the first time to the Americas. The host country invited GSR/GILF to Armenia City. The Chairman of GSR this year will be Mr Cristhian Lizcano Ortíz, Executive Director of CRC.
The Chairman of GILF will be Mr Orlando Ayala of Microsoft.
How many participants do you expect to have at this year's symposium and from where?
On average over the last ten years, GSR attracts around 400 participants. This year we expect around 450 participants. Being a global event, representatives from ITU’s 192 Member States come from around the world and include regulators and industry leaders.
What is the role of industry leaders in the symposium?
The Private sector is a key stakeholder in the development and growth of the telecoms and ICT sector. The Global Industry Leaders Forum (GILF) aims to provide a high-level platform for CEOs and other industry leaders to convey their views and make proposals regarding key regulatory and policy issues related to the ICT/telecommunications industry. The interactive exchange with regulators and policy-makers will continue into the opening day of GSR which will begin with a high-level Segment discussion.
How will GILF interact with GSR?
The GILF will include three plenary sessions focusing on:
- Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship
- How innovation and services will drive future growth and taxation of ICTs
- Regulation in the world of social media
In order to foster a more dynamic and “open-dialogue”, the GILF will invite regulators and policy makers to join the industry panels. The open dialogue will begin during the GILF on 20 September and continue into the first day of the GSR on 21 September.
To provide networking opportunities, an online networking tool will be set up for GSR-GILF participants to see who will be at the event and connect with one another before, during and after the event. A “networking zone” will be set up during the event to provide participants with more space to meet in person and extend networking opportunities.