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ITU Global Symposium focuses on ‘Smart’ regulatory measures’ for future broadband development

Industry leaders join regulators in formulating best practices

Armenia City, Colombia, 21 September 2011 - The11th ITU Global Symposium for Regulators opened today in the Colombian highland city of Armenia, otherwise known as Ciudad Milagro or ‘Miracle City’ for its rapid urban growth and development, rising from the rubble of the devastating earthquake of 1999 and a period of economic and social adversity.

The gathering of the international ICT regulatory community, policy makers and industry leaders is meeting for the first time in the Americas. Mr Cristhian Lizcano Ortíz, Executive Director of the Communications Regulatory Commission of Colombia (CRC) was appointed Chairman of the Global Symposium for Regulators.

The Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) aims at fostering constructive exchange of information among national regulatory authorities and is a unique forum to share regulatory best practices at the global level. The theme of the event is “Smart Regulation for a Broadband World”. During the week, GSR participants will focus their attention on innovative regulatory measures needed to promote the roll out of broadband and address the complexities and challenges of the broadband ecosystem.

Opening the symposium, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology of Colombia, Mr Diego Molano said, “The presence in our country of representatives from 192 Member States of ITU is a recognition of the efforts we have been doing in Colombia for the technology that will reach all citizens and become an effective tool to reduce poverty, create employment and achieve prosperity.”

In the last decade, Colombia has increased coverage at a rapid pace with mobile subscriptions increasing from 3.2 million in 2001 to 43.4 million in 2010 corresponding to some 8 per cent and 93.7 per cent of the population respectively.

“The holding of GSR in Colombia is a major landmark for the country and is recognition of its achievements in the regulatory field,” GSR Chairman Lizcano Ortíz said. “With enhanced use of ICTs, citizens can access the information society and the global wealth of knowledge that fosters a new generation of social and economic productivity.”

Regulation for affordable broadband

Speaking at the high-level panel discussion on Broadband for All and the Future of Telecoms/ICTs, which included government ministers, regulators and academics, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré noted that increased access to the Internet – and broadband in particular – will allow us to deliver more effective services to meet the Millennium Development Goals. “I am convinced that broadband will go the way of mobile cellular telephony and become virtually ubiquitous in the next decade or so, even though two thirds of the world’s people are still offline,” said Touré. “This will only change when broadband becomes more affordable – and the world’s regulators meeting at GSR-11 can facilitate this by advocating a combination of increased capacity and competition.”

Mr Julio Cesar López, Governor of Quindío Province, welcomed the international gathering to the region, the coffee producing heartland of Colombia, known for its green landscapes and peaceful surroundings. He said, “This international symposium is a very important event for the country and for Quindío, a region which has invested well in technology for connectivity.”

The Government of Colombia’s ‘Digital Life’ policy has elevated Quindío as the most advanced in the country in the use of ICTs. Quindío boasts 100 per cent mobile coverage along with Internet connectivity in 276 educational institutions in urban and rural areas. In addition, accessibility for the disabled is accorded special attention.

Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, noted that remarkable achievements have been made over the last fifteen years that have placed the telecom sector and ICTs at the centre of today’s digital economy. “Thanks to the Internet and broadband a wealth of new opportunities can now be offered almost instantaneously to citizens throughout the world, removing the barriers of time and distance,” Mr Sanou said. “New market realities and the trans-sectoral dynamics of broadband call for smart regulatory approaches based on coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders.” He added that more needs to be done to connect the unconnected, increase digital literacy and ensure developing countries are not excluded from the digital economy and the broadband world.

Best Practice Guidelines will be agreed by regulators and policy makers attending GSR-11 to identify smart regulatory measures, strategies and plans to ensure that all citizens can benefit from the new applications, services and business opportunities in a broadband world.

Industry leaders and regulators share views

Feeding into the process with constructive inputs is the private sector which met in the Global Industry Leaders’ Forum (GILF) on Tuesday, 20 September under the Chairmanship of Mr Orlando Ayala, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Corporation, and debated the issues in a high-level meeting this morning. “Public-private partnerships are increasingly important to foster the technological development of countries, not only to create an infrastructure that allows them to be more efficient and productive, but also to promote higher levels of education and to foster increased economic development,” Mr Ayala said.

GILF provides a neutral platform for ITU Sector Members to share their views on major regulatory issues facing the ICT sector. In order to foster a more dynamic and “open-dialogue”, the GILF invited regulators and policy makers to join the industry panels that focused on:

  1. The evolving regulatory landscape
  2. Innovation and entrepreneurship: New applications and services driving future growth
  3. Taxation and its impact on ICT growth
  4. The impact of social media on the regulatory environment

GSR-11 and GILF have been organized by ITU in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies and the Communications Regulatory Commission of Colombia.

For more information, please visit www.itu.int/net/newsroom/GSR/2011/index.aspx and www.itu.int/GSR11 or contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
tel +41 22 730 5046
mobile +41 79 249 4861
mobile +57 300 550 0012 (Colombia)
email sanjay.acharya@itu.int


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