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Sri Lanka welcomes top tech policy makers for world’s leading international telecom regulatory gathering

Policy experts to tackle challenges, opportunities of
broadband-driven ICT development

Colombo, 2 October, 2012– Over 500 high-level international delegates from information and communication technology (ICT) policy-making bodies around the world are gathering this week in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to debate how to create the appropriate market conditions for the rapid proliferation of broadband networks across a range of different market types.

The ITU Global Symposium for Regulators, which has earned a reputation as the pre-eminent global gathering of the regulatory and policy-making community, is intended to foster multi-stakeholder dialogue between regulators, industry leaders and other key ICT stakeholders.

Chaired this year by Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Chairman of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), the event is hosted by ITU and TRCSL under the High Patronage of the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who presided over this morning’s opening ceremony.

In his address to delegates from some 100 countries worldwide, President Rajapaksa said “Sri Lanka recognizes the need for rapid progress in the field of ICT, a technology that is racing ahead with innovations and new applications that make our world smaller each day. It opens pathways to progress to the people, breaking down the barriers of race, ethnicity, community, faith and geography … We see how mobile communications can bring revolutionary changes to the lives of people in new life skills, new employment opportunities, and new links to markets in one’s country and abroad. It can bring new educational opportunities, expand health and healing services, have a positive impact on sustainable development, increase production in agriculture, and expand the market potential of small industry.”

President Rajapaksa was joined on the podium by Dr Touré; Mr Weeratunga; Mr Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology; Mr Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Media and Information; Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Minister of Science and Technology; Dr Sarath Amunugama, Deputy Minister of Finance & Planning; Mr Anusha Palpita, Director-General of TRCSL; and top ITU officials Mr Houlin Zhao (ITU Deputy-Secretary-General) and Mr Brahima Sanou (Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau).

Dr Touré said the theme of this year’s event, ‘Why Regulate in a Networked Society?’, focuses on the critical role of regulators worldwide in facilitating the rapid roll-out of broadband, particularly in low-income countries where high-speed networks can serve as effective conduits for essential public services. “Broadband is a transformational technology, and nowhere is this truer than in the developing world, where it will help connect disadvantaged and isolated communities to services that are often chronically lacking, such as education, health care, financial services and access to government information. This meeting is the place where experts will forge the innovative funding and implementation policies that will help make high-speed networks a reality for all the world’s people,” said Dr Touré.

Speaking of the challenges to be addressed by this year’s symposium, Mr Weeratunga emphasized the importance of ICTs to socio-economic development. “This symposium brings together some of the stalwarts in the global telecommunications industry. Among them are inventors, academics, key industry players such as CEOs of large telcos, and of course the regulators who handle very tough situations in their respective countries…It is their thoughts, viewpoints and deliberations that will keep the entire symposium alive,” he said.

Mr Weeratunga also praised ITU as a role model for public-private partnerships in today’s multi-stakeholder markets. Unique among UN specialized agencies, ITU membership comprises not only 193 Member States, but over 700 private sector members, who play an active role in ITU’s technical standardization, spectrum management and development work.

Through the Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue programme, a new component of the event for 2012, public and private sector participants will together debate the challenges of meeting new national broadband goals, promoting affordable access and ensuring safe and secure digital opportunities for all.

Taking place at the Colombo Hilton Hotel, the three-day GSR programme spans a wide range of compelling issues, including net neutrality, spectrum policy, international roaming, cloud computing, data protection and privacy, international and regional IP interconnection, and public-private-partnerships to foster network investment.

Sessions began this morning with an interactive High-Level Segment focusing on transnational regulatory issues in a converged digital era. Moderated by BDT Director Brahima Sanou, participants joining Dr Touré and Mr Weeratunga in the debate included Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of leading network security firm Kaspersky Lab; Magdalena Gaj, President of the Office of Electronic Communications, Poland; Robert Pepper, VP for Global Technology Policy at Cisco Systems; and Zohra Derdouri, President of the Post and Telecommunications Authority of Algeria.

The meeting continues until Thursday 4 October, culminating in a series of regulatory Best Practice Guidelines. Outputs from the meeting will also be incorporated into ITU’s annual regulatory report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform.

Background information, including Sri Lanka market overviews, a new broadband Case Study on Sri Lanka, speeches of the high-level participants, key global statistics on broadband, and a backgrounder on ITU’s Connect a School, Connect a Community project currently being implemented country-wide in Sri Lanka are all available on the GSR-12 Newsroom at www.itu.int/net/newsroom/GSR/2012/.

Download GSR-12 photos: www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/sets/72157631420361972/

Follow the event on Twitter at: #GSR12.

For more information, visit www.itu.int/GSR12 or contact:

Jagath Rathayake

tel +94 11 268 2564
tel +94 71 426 5149
tel jagath_r@trc.gov.lk

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information

tel +41 22 730 6039
tel +41 79 599 1439
tel sarah.parkes@itu.int


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