Plenipotentiary Conference 1998 -- Minneapolis USA

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Strategic Plan for the Union 1999-2003

I. Introduction

1. The purposes of the Union are set out in Article 1 of the Constitution (Geneva, 1992). Essentially, they are to provide a forum in which the Union's membership can cooperate for the improvement and rational use of telecommunications of all kinds in the following domains:

1.1 a technical domain - to promote the development, efficient operation, usefulness and general availability of telecommunication facilities and services;

1.2 a development domain - to promote the development of telecommunications in developing countries and the extension of the benefits of telecommunications to people everywhere;

1.3 a policy domain - to promote the adoption of a broader approach to telecommunication issues in the global information economy and society.

2. The objective of the strategic plan for the Union for 1999-2003 is to indicate how these purposes will be achieved in this period of time by identifying key issues, goals, strategies and priorities for the Union as a whole, for each of the Sectors, and for the secretariat.

3. The ITU strategic plan for 1995-1999 was based on an ambitious goal - to establish the Union as the international focal point for all matters relating to telecommunications in the global information economy and society. This goal was to be achieved through the following overall strategies:

3.1 to strengthen the foundations of the Union - by enhancing the participation of Sector Members and increasing synergy between the activities of the Sectors;

3.2 to broaden the Union's activities - by creating the world telecommunication policy forum and using ITU resources and information systems more effectively;

3.3 to increase the Union's leverage in international affairs - by establishing strategic alliances with other concerned international and regional organizations, and communicating more effectively with the public.

4. The report of the Council to the Plenipotentiary Conference (Minneapolis, 1998) on the activities of the Union since the Plenipotentiary Conference (Kyoto, 1994) provides a detailed assessment of the results of the 1995-99 strategic plan. Each of these strategies has been successful, to a greater or lesser degree. However, the overall goal as referred to in § 3 above has not been entirely realized, largely because of developments outside the control of the Union and its membership.

5. The telecommunication environment has evolved in ways that were not completely foreseen when the 1995-1999 strategic plan was being crafted. In particular, the forces of liberalization, competition and globalization have been stronger than anticipated. They have resulted in a shift in the way telecommunications is viewed - by policy-makers and regulators, by customers, and by the industry itself. These forces will be further strengthened by the implementation in 1998 of agreements liberalizing trade in telecommunications at the international and regional levels.

6. In this new environment, it is no longer realistic to believe that the Union can be the focal point for all matters relating to telecommunications in the global information economy and society. The world is now too complex and telecommunications too pervasive for a single organization to be the focus of all issues of concern to the international community. New goals must be set and new strategies devised. That is the purpose of this document, which is organized as follows:

6.1 Part II identifies key trends and developments in the telecommunication environment and assesses their implications for ITU;

6.2 Part III proposes general strategic orientations, goals and priorities for achieving the purposes of the Union in the new environment in the 1999-2003 time-frame;

6.3 Part IV presents goals, strategies and priorities for the Sectors;

6.4  Annex 2 proposes goals, strategies and priorities for the ITU secretariat.

7. The financial plan for the Union for 2000-2003 estimates the cost of ITU activities, identifies revenue options and establishes expenditure priorities on the basis of the provisions of the draft strategic plan.


A. Trends and developments in the telecommunication environment

8. The global market for telecommunications is expanding rapidly. It is not a question of "demand pull" or "supply push". Both are happening. The interaction of these two forces has made telecommunications one of the leading growth sectors in the world economy. It has also made telecommunications one of the most important components of social, cultural and political activity.

8.1 On the demand side, growth is pulled by an increasing reliance on telecommunications and information technology in every area of human life - in all sectors of economic and social activity; in government, in the provision of public services, and in the management of public infrastructures; in the pursuit of knowledge and the expression of culture; in the control of the environment; and in response to emergencies, whether natural or man-made.

8.2 On the supply side, growth is pushed by rapid technological developments which continuously improve the efficiency of existing products, systems and services, and provide the foundation for a continuing stream of innovations in each of these areas. Particularly noteworthy is the convergence of telecommunication, information, broadcasting and publishing technologies, which has greatly enriched the communication choices available to consumers.

9. The effect of the fundamental forces driving demand and supply has been amplified by the worldwide trend to liberalize markets for telecommunication and information technology goods and services. As a result of this trend, the majority of telecommunication networks are now privately owned and operated. Significant developments have also taken place to introduce competition at the national, regional and international levels. Of particular importance is the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement to liberalize trade in basic telecommunication services which was concluded in February 1997 by 69 countries which together account for more than 90% of global telecommunication revenues. The agreement entered into force on 5 February 1998.

10. The new framework developed by WTO to govern trade and regulation of telecommunication services will facilitate further globalization of the telecommunication equipment and services industries, as well as the closely-related information technology industry.

10.1 In the 1995-1999 planning period, "globalization" was more a slogan than a reality, since it referred mainly to alliances between major operators to provide end-to-end services to multinational enterprises. Public networks and residential customers were relatively unaffected by this kind of globalization, although various forms of "alternative calling procedures" provided consumers in countries which allowed such practices a "poor-man's version" of the benefits enjoyed by big business users.

10.2 In the 1999-2003 planning period, globalization is likely to become much more of a reality. The WTO agreement will make it possible for foreign operators to have direct access through interconnection and interoperability to public networks in most of the world's major telecommunication markets, as well as to make direct investments in the development of those networks.

11. Five years ago, few would have predicted that the Internet would emerge so rapidly as a serious competitive force in telecommunications. However, today's Internet is only a precursor to the new competitive forces that are likely to emerge in the next five to ten years in the new "communications and information sector" which will result from technological convergence.

12. The essential lesson to be learned from the Internet phenomenon is that competition is no longer a public policy tool which can be introduced in a completely controlled fashion and regulated within the confines of the traditional telecommunication sector. Competition in telecommunications is rapidly becoming a true market force whose evolution cannot be planned by policy-makers, a force which increasingly is seen as best regulated on the basis of principles that are not specific to telecommunications, but derived from a broader economic, social and cultural perspective.

13. Although far from universally accepted, the sweeping changes in telecommunications described above have broad support among many countries, including a number of developing countries who see it as the best way forward in developing their telecommunication networks and services to the benefit of their overall economic and social development.

14. The liberalization of telecommunications does not mean an end to regulation - but it has changed both the role of government and the nature of telecommunication regulation:

14.1 In the past, most administrations of ITU Member States tended to be "all-purpose" creatures - policy-makers and operators which both provided and regulated telecommunications on the basis of a "public utility" model.

14.2 The liberalization of telecommunications has been accompanied by a separation of these functions. The trend now is for administrations of ITU Member States to be policy-makers, nested within a general department of government (e.g. industry and trade); for telecommunications to be operated by corporations - whether public, private or mixed; and for "the public interest" in telecommunications to be protected by an independent regulatory authority.

14.3 In countries that have introduced partial or full competition, the model for regulating telecommunications is changing. Principles derived from competition law are taking their place alongside the classical precepts of public utility regulation. In some jurisdictions, sector-specific telecommunication regulation has been abandoned.

14.4 Again, the WTO agreement will amplify these regulatory trends. More than 60 signatories accounting for more than 90% of global telecommunication revenues have made commitments to apply in whole or in part a set of regulatory principles including interconnection, transparency and anti-competitive safeguards. These regulatory commitments, and indeed all other commitments, are subject to the WTO dispute resolution mechanism. They are therefore more than a voluntary code of conduct. They are binding commitments which are enforceable under the WTO dispute resolution mechanism.

15. In the 1999-2003 planning period, it is likely that the trends noted above with respect to liberalization, competition and globalization will begin to combine in new ways that may ultimately change the way the telecommunication industry sees itself and is seen by its regulator(s) and customers.

15.1 Countries that began permitting competition in telecommunications 10 or 20 years ago generally introduced it in a planned and orderly manner: first in terminal equipment; then in value-added services; then in the long-distance service; and finally in local and international services. In addition, competition was generally permitted among different service providers using the same infrastructure before being allowed between different infrastructure providers. Even today, most countries that permit competition do so on a highly regulated basis.

15.2 In this environment the regulator must implement competitive safeguards, nurture competition, ensure interconnection/interoperability and ensure broad and affordable access to necessary services.

15.3 As a result of technological progress, convergence and market liberalization, countries only now beginning to introduce competition are less likely to be in a position to plan an evolution of this kind.

15.4 Even in those countries that have experience with competition, service providers and regulators which have based their respective plans on an orderly evolution of this kind are finding that the "rules of the game" are suddenly changing, that competition is coming from unforeseen directions, and that it cannot be regulated as it was in the past.

15.5 More than any other phenomenon, the Internet symbolizes the changing nature of telecommunications. It is based on different technologies, network architectures, standardization and addressing schemes. Its economic foundations and charging principles are diametrically opposed to those of public telecommunication operators. It has experienced phenomenal growth and it has largely been outside government regulation. Yet it is emerging as a serious alternative to the traditional services provided by the telecommunication industry in every market segment from intra-corporate communications to public voice.

16. From one point of view, encouraging progress has been made in the 1995-1999 period in certain countries and some regions in forging the "missing link" identified by the Maitland Commission. Overall, the gap between developed and developing countries in access to basic telecommunication services is closing. However, from other points of view, new gaps are beginning to appear:

16.1 In general, the majority of the least developed countries (LDCs) have made little progress in the past five years in closing the gap in access to basic telecommunication services. In some cases, teledensity (the number of telephone lines per 100 people) has fallen, as population growth has outstripped telecommunication growth. New technologies such as global mobile personal communications by satellite (GMPCS) may help close the "telecommunication gap". This will only be possible, however, if their services are affordable to inhabitants of the LDCs.

16.2 There is currently an enormous gap between developed and developing countries in access to the Internet. Even as the telecommunication gap which has preoccupied the Union for so many years is beginning to close, an "information gap" of even greater proportions is opening up.

16.3 A difference in regulatory practices is emerging between countries which have decided to liberalize their telecommunication markets under the WTO agreements, and those that have not. If competition brings the first group of countries the anticipated benefits in terms of investment, technology transfer, innovative services and lower prices, these regulatory differences may become a new development gap. In this regard, it is important to recall that although the 119 ITU Member States that are not yet part of the WTO basic telecommunications agreement generate less than 10% of global telecommunication revenues, they include more than 45% of the world's people.

17. On the eve of the 21st century, the Union thus finds itself in a dynamic situation. On the one hand, the goal established by the Maitland Commission of achieving universal access to basic telecommunications will be technically achieved, and the overall gap between developed and developing countries is steadily narrowing. However, at the same time, new differences are developing, for example within the developing world, between the LDCs and other developing countries, between liberalized and non-liberalized countries which may be either developed or developing, and between countries that are moving rapidly towards competition and those moving at a slower pace.

18. This raises important questions in relation to the vision of the global information society (GIS). This vision was the subject of considerable discussion during the 1995-1999 period, initially in the G-7 group of advanced industrial economies, then in the broader international community. Today, the basic ideas behind the concept of the GIS have been broadly accepted and indeed endorsed. In this vision, all forms of economic, social, cultural and political activity will increasingly depend on access to the telecommunication and information services provided by the global information infrastructure (GII). The rapid development of electronic commerce on the Internet is one tangible example of how the GIS is becoming a reality. The challenge facing the international community is to find ways to ensure that the GIS is truly global, and that people everywhere are able to share in its benefits.

B. Impact on ITU

19. As a result of these trends and developments, demand for the products and services provided by ITU has risen in the 1995-1999 period and is expected to continue to rise in the 1999-2003 time-frame. This is the case for the services provided to the ITU membership (e.g. meetings, recommendations, assistance in applying regulations, frequency and number registrations, technical and development assistance) as well as those provided to the international telecommunication community as a whole (e.g. exhibitions, forums, development indicators, trend reports, information services).

20. One of the most important strategic issues facing ITU in the 1999 - 2003 period is how to respond to these rising demands:

20.1 The Union functions within the framework of the United Nations common system. Since the ITU budget has been based on "zero growth" for a number of years, it has only been possible to respond to increased demand for products and services through productivity improvements. Further improvements can and will continue to be made.

20.2 The 1995-1999 strategic plan noted that assessed contributions from Member States had "reached a plateau; income from these sources appears unlikely to grow dramatically and may begin to decline". Four years later, it is clear that this was an accurate assessment. This is the financial reality the membership faces in preparing a strategic and financial plan for 1999-2003.

20.3 While unquestioned, the intergovernmental nature of ITU is acknowledged by Member States and Sector Members alike as placing certain limits on enhancing Sector Members' rights and obligations. It does limit the role of Sector Members in decision-making, and although Sector Member rights have been somewhat enhanced, the intergovernmental nature of ITU might limit Sector Members' willingness to make increased financial contributions which they cannot control. Implementation of recommendations deriving from Resolution 15 (Kyoto, 1994) and Resolution 39 (Kyoto, 1994) can lessen these constraints and facilitate cooperation between Member States and Sector Members.

20.4 The solution to strengthening the Union lies in treating the Sector Members more as partners in appropriate work of the Union. The Union will have to see itself as seeking to satisfy the needs of its customers by providing products and services of superior value in a competitive environment. Many Sector Members have had to transform their organizational cultures in this fashion, and it is natural that they will expect to see similar changes in the Union.

20.5 Another factor affecting the future effectiveness of the Union is the process of decision-making. Even as ITU has supported some improvements during 1995-1999, including the use of web technology, advanced electronic communication and document exchange facilities, the number of ITU meetings, meeting days, participants and pages of documents produced per meeting has continued to grow. That the membership has turned to ITU to satisfy their diverse needs should be seen as an indication of the value that can be provided by the Union. Therefore, appropriate changes in the working methods are required, along with financial responsibility based on a transparent budget process and generally accepted accounting principles.

21. There are clearly major challenges facing the Union as it seeks to respond to rising demand for its products and services. However, each of these challenges has a positive side which provides an opportunity to build on ITU's "core competencies":

21.1 The Union is an acknowledged leader in the movement to reform international organizations by enhancing the participation of non-government players, increasing efficiency, and adopting innovative approaches to achieving its purposes.

21.2 The Union has a comprehensive membership and "high approval rating" among the members of the international telecommunication community. The vast majority of the Union's Member States freely choose to contribute more than they would if they were assessed under some measure such as GDP or teledensity. And during the 1995-1999 period, Sector membership almost doubled as new players on the international telecommunication scene and companies from convergent industries were added to the ranks of established players.

21.3 Member States, Sector Members and the international community have shown a continuing willingness to pay for many ITU products and services. Demand has remained strong for established publications and TELECOM events. In addition, customers have responded well to the innovative range of ITU information products and services which have been introduced in the past four years.

21.4 In every major test of its decision-making ability in the 1995-1999 period, the Union has been able to respond with activities that have led to beneficial results for all concerned.

22. The strategic challenge facing the Union in the 1999-2003 time-frame is to remain a pre-eminent international forum where Member States and Sector Members work together to enable the development of telecommunication networks and to facilitate universal access to communication and information services, so that people everywhere can participate in and benefit from the global information economy and society.


23. The purposes of the Union are achieved through the activities of its three Sectors, through the Sector conferences and assemblies, and through general-purpose activities such as the Plenipotentiary Conference, the world conference on international telecommunications and the Council, as well as the world telecommunication policy forum and TELECOM exhibitions and forums.

24. The ITU is a federal organization. Although financial resources are centrally controlled, each Sector has its own "governance structure" which defines the goals, strategies and activities necessary to achieve its mission in a given period of time. However, just as the purposes of the Union set out in Article 1 of the Constitution apply to all Sectors, so they share a number of strategic orientations and goals.

C. Strategic orientations

25. "Strategic orientations" are principles intended to provide coherence, focus and direction to all of the activities undertaken by the Union. It is impossible to forecast the future completely in the rapidly changing telecommunication environment and to plan for every contingency. Strategic orientations therefore help to ensure consistency of purpose and action in the face of inevitable uncertainty.

26. The following strategic orientations are proposed for the 1999-2003 strategic plan. They build on the experience of the 1995-1999 period, particularly the results of implementation of Resolution 15 (Kyoto, 1994) and Resolution 39 (Kyoto, 1994), and they seek to apply that experience to the anticipated requirements of the new environment analysed in part II of this document, in addition to encouraging development of access to basic telecommunication and information services:

26.1 improve customer service - by identifying the specific needs of the Union's membership and other customers, establishing priorities, and providing the highest quality of service possible with available resources;

26.2 innovate - by continuing to develop new activities, products and services under the supervision of the Member States and Sector Members and in accordance with their agreed needs;

26.3 strengthen the Union's financial foundations - by determining and applying appropriate funding mechanisms for ITU activities, products and services (e.g. assessed contribution based on free choice of contributory unit, voluntary contribution, partial or full cost recovery, revenue generation), together with transparent budgetary measures;

26.4 enhance participation by Sector Members - by implementing the recommendations deriving from Resolution 15 (Kyoto, 1994) and Resolution 39 (Kyoto, 1994) as quickly and fully as possible, and by actively marketing ITU membership to all entities and organizations with a potential interest in participating actively in the work of the Union;

26.5 establish partnerships - by concluding a range of formal and informal cooperation agreements with other intergovernmental organizations and with other organizations at the national and regional levels, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in cases where such cooperation would further the purposes of the Union based upon the identification of specific subjects for cooperation;

26.6 maintain solidarity - between the ITU's Member States and Sector Members in partnership in pursuit of the purposes of the Union;

26.7 inform - by sharing and disseminating information related to the development of economically efficient public telecommunications;

26.8 promote the principle and implementation of a competitive telecommunication environment - by encouraging flexible regulatory systems that provide for a variety of telecommunication services;

26.9 produce Recommendations in timely response to market demand - by streamlining development and approval procedures by each Sector, as appropriate.

D. Goals and priorities

27. In addition to these strategic orientations, the Sectors of the Union share a number of goals for the 1999-2003 period, and will undertake priority actions to achieve these goals.

D.1 Goal 1 - Strengthen the multilateral foundations of international telecommunications

28. The trends and developments analysed in part II of this document illustrate the multilateral nature of key ITU activities. Since the most basic purpose of the Union is to maintain and extend international cooperation between all its members for the improvement and rational use of telecommunications, the central goal of the Union's strategy must be to take this into account and strengthen multilateral cooperation in areas where its effectiveness may be in question. To this end, the following priority actions are proposed:

28.1 ITU-R

  • Considering the implications of the large increase in workload for preparation of, participation in and follow-up work of WRCs, and taking appropriate action.

  • Further enhancing the structure of ITU-R through clarification of the roles of the RAG, RA and WRC, and in particular establishing clearer linkages between advisory, decision-making and budgetary responsibilities.

28.2 ITU-T

  • Producing high-quality Recommendations quickly in response to market demands.

  • Broadening participation and enhancing involvement by non-administration entities in the Sector's standardization process.

  • Developing Recommendations to achieve accounting rate reform and proposing means to encourage their implementation.

28.3 ITU-D

  • Developing new approaches to the provision of multilateral telecommunication assistance, inter alia by building partnerships for telecommunication development in priority areas, with special emphasis on telecommunication sector restructuring, regulatory reform, finance and resource mobilization, technology applications and human resources development.

28.4 General activities

  • Developing the world telecommunication policy forum (WTPF) as a forum convened on an ad hoc basis for developing a non-binding shared vision on cross-Sectoral policy issues.

  • Where agreed by the membership, developing innovative mechanisms for international cooperation outside the formal structures defined in the Constitution and Convention (e.g. MoUs).

  • Deciding on the need to revise the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) to take account of developments in the telecommunication environment, particularly the WTO agreements.

  • Extending cooperative participation to an increasing number of administrations and organizations, by encouraging the participation of Member States not currently active in ITU activities, encouraging and facilitating the participation of additional entities and organizations, including small or narrowly-focused entities, and increasing coordination and cooperation with other relevant international and regional organizations.

D.2 Goal 2 - In addition to development of access to basic telecommunication and information services, promote global connectivity to the global information infrastructure (GII) and global participation in the global information society (GIS)

29. The vision of the GIS will become a reality only if the networks and services of the converging telecommunication and information industries are able to interconnect and interoperate seamlessly, and if they are accessible to people everywhere at affordable rates. Facilitating development of the GII and promoting universal access to basic telecommunication and information services is a goal that unites all ITU Sectors. Priority actions proposed for 1999-2003 include:

29.1 ITU-R

  • Accommodating the global and regional spectrum requirements of innovative telecommunication and information services.

29.2 ITU-T

  • Developing Recommendations for new technologies and applications such as appropriate aspects of the GII and global multimedia and mobility.

29.3 ITU-D

  • Promoting the development, expansion and operation of telecommunication networks and services, particularly in developing countries, taking into account the activities of other relevant bodies, with universal access as the objective.

  • Developing and/or sponsoring projects designed to connect developing countries to the GII (e.g. Africa ONE, Internet access).

  • Promoting the development of technology applications (e.g. tele-health, tele-education, electronic commerce, environmental protection, disaster relief) in cooperation with other international and regional organizations and NGOs.

29.4 General activities

  • Connecting ITU Member States, Sector Members and other members of the international telecommunity to the Union's information resources and to each other through an "ITU-II" (ITU information infrastructure), to help them develop the GII in their own areas of responsibility.

  • Pursuing implementation of the United Nations system-wide project on universal access to basic communication and information services - the "right to communicate".

  • Facilitate access to telecommunications through the promotion of cost-effective technologies and low price services to end users, that comply with standards and quality requirements.

D.3 Goal 3 - Coordinate international action to manage scarce telecommunication resources

30. Although we are living in an era of technological abundance, some communication resources remain scarce. The coordination of international action to manage resources such as the radio-frequency spectrum, satellite orbital positions and telecommunication numbers is a well-established and core role of ITU, as the pre-eminent competent international body to deal with these issues. In addition, human resources and information are becoming recognized as scarce resources of a different kind that are critical to developing countries in the new environment. The following priority actions are therefore proposed for 1999-2003:

30.1 ITU-R

  • Improving the frequency coordination and planning framework for satellite networks.

30.2 ITU-T

  • Developing and implementing administrative procedures for numbering plans for international networks and services.

30.3 ITU-D

  • Contributing to and coordinating actions between Member States and Sector Members aimed at developing human resources, especially in the associated regulatory and economic domains.

30.4 General activities

  • Serving as the depositary of cooperative international arrangements consistent with the purposes of ITU.

D.4 Goal 4 - Encourage and enable Member States, especially developing countries, to draw maximum benefit from technical, financial and regulatory changes in the telecommunication environment

31. As indicated in part II, the current telecommunication environment is a dynamic one, characterized by rapid technological progress but also by emerging differences, for example within the developing countries, between liberalized and non-liberalized countries, and between countries that are moving more rapidly towards competition and those moving at a slower pace. Countries will be assisted in adapting to this environment if they have available good information not only on the global environment but also on the issues and options they face. Each ITU Sector, and ITU as a whole, has a role to play in providing this information. The following priority actions are therefore proposed for 1999-2003:

31.1 ITU-R

  • Providing assistance to all Member States, and especially the developing countries, through the dissemination of information and know-how, in particular on spectrum management.

31.2 ITU-T

  • Producing Recommendations responding to technological developments, in accordance with the priorities shown in § 41 below.

  • Working with BDT with special attention to telecommunication development in developing countries, and cooperating with the other Sectors in the organization of information meetings, seminars and workshops, and in the development of case studies, guidelines and handbooks.

31.3 ITU-D

  • Continuing to develop the telecommunication indicators and regulatory databases, and to add value to the information they contain through partnerships with other Sectors and organizations.

  • Assisting developing countries in addressing policy and regulatory issues arising from the liberalization, convergence and globalization of telecommunications, while taking account of the GATS principles inherent in the WTO basic telecommunication agreement and Reference Paper (e.g. through studies, workshops, missions and cooperative mechanisms).

  • Providing information about mechanisms for financing telecommunication development and assisting developing countries with the mobilization of resources for telecommunication investment.

  • Disseminating information about ITU-R and ITU-T activities that are of particular importance for developing countries.

31.4 General activities

  • Providing opportunities for the sharing of information and experience regarding relevant issues, such as convergence, globalization, regulatory principles and universal service, and regarding benefits to the public interest, investors and the national economy.

  • Assisting countries most in need to draw maximum benefit from technical, financial and regulatory changes in the telecommunication environment.

D.5 Goal 5 - Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Union structures, activities and processes

32. To remain a pre-eminent international and market-relevant focal point for matters related to the rapidly changing telecommunication environment, ITU must regularly review and, as appropriate, update its structure, activities and processes, ensuring that they are effective and efficient in the light of the current needs of its membership. To this end, the following items are proposed for 1999-2003:

32.1 ITU-R

  • Fostering the cost-effective processing of information received from administrations in the application of the provisions of the Radio Regulations, the orderly recording and registration of frequency assignments and orbital positions and the development of Recommendations, handbooks and other relevant outputs in a rapidly changing environment, while continuing to evaluate Sector structure, activities and processes with a view to remaining effective and efficient.

32.2 ITU-T

  • Continuing to improve the working methods of the Sector, including the accelerated development of Recommendations, the fostering of cooperative relationships with other relevant standardization organizations and the increased use both of electronic document handling (EDH) and project teams (see § 41 below).

  • Assisting in developing, for the Telecommunication Standardization Sector, an open and transparent "bottom-up" budget proposal that incorporates financial management principles and techniques, including cost recovery as appropriate.

32.3 ITU-D

  • Strengthening BDT's advisory capabilities through redistribution of its resources, to respond to requests in priority areas such as international agreements and national regulation, tariffs and finance, new and convergent technologies and the feasibility stage of negotiations.

  • Developing its catalytic role in encouraging all actors, including global, regional and national organizations, to work together in assisting developing countries in their development and reform process as well as in their adaptation to the liberalized market.

  • Strengthening regional presence by increasing the decentralization of functions and authority to field offices and by strengthening the coordination functions of headquarters.

32.4 General activities

  • Increasing the use of modern methods of telecommunication, including electronic handling of submissions to ITU such as frequency and orbit notifications/registrations, and providing information to its customers.

  • Streamlining the development, approval and publication processes for Recommendations in each Sector, as appropriate.

  • Increasing the use of task-oriented activities using the working methods agreed to in each Sector, such as rapporteur, focus and correspondence groups, while ensuring transparency.

  • Developing a clear, transparent budget, encouraging each Sector and the General Secretariat to develop "bottom-up" budgets, and working to implement cost recovery, as appropriate.

  • Improving the financial accountability of activities within ITU by more clearly linking costs with the related activity through annual Sector operational and financial plans consistent with the biennial budget.


E. Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R)

E.1 The Radiocommunication Sector mission

33. Under the provisions of the Constitution and Convention (Geneva, 1992), the mission of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector is, inter alia, to ensure rational, equitable, efficient and economical use of the radio-frequency spectrum by all radiocommunication services, including those using satellite orbits, and to carry out studies and adopt Recommendations on radiocommunication matters.

E.2 The Radiocommunication Sector environment

34. This mission is to be undertaken in an environment that is characterized by:

  • Growing recognition of the economic value of frequency spectrum and the application of economic principles in the management of that resource, recognizing the rapid market-driven and user-oriented technological development.

  • The ever increasing demand for the limited radio-frequency spectrum for space and terrestrial radiocommunication systems.

  • The growing role of regional organizations and private-sector activities in a liberalized environment.

  • The limited financial resources available to support the Sector's activities.

  • Growing convergence among many radio services, integration with wired telecommunication services and converging terrestrial and satellite applications.

  • Increased interest, in particular on the part of the developing countries, in:

– access to the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits in support of their national requirements;

– worldwide radiocommunication system standards to achieve overall system economy;

– handbooks;

  • the rapid technological development and widespread application of digital techniques to most space and terrestrial systems, including mobile communications and new television and sound broadcasting systems.

E.3 The Radiocommunication Sector strategic objectives

35. Within its overall mission, the strategic objectives of ITU-R are to carry out the functions laid down in the Constitution and Convention, and specifically, in the period 1999-2003:

  • to maintain and enhance the relevance of ITU-R in the efficient management of the usable radio-frequency spectrum, free from harmful interference, and to ensure that the Radio Regulations and the rights of Member States are respected;

  • to continue developing enhanced criteria for frequency sharing and coordination of new and existing systems in both space and terrestrial environments, with a view to increasing the efficiency of use of the usable frequency spectrum;

  • to continue improving the working methods and cost-effective operation of ITU-R in a flexible organizational structure; to aim at more efficient and more clearly defined roles of the RAG, radiocommunication assemblies and radiocommunication conferences to ensure clear linkages between advisory, decision-making and budgetary responsibilities as new and more efficient working methods evolve; and to further develop the Sector's quality of service and enhance its use of electronic document handling;

  • to ensure that the Radio Regulations Board carries out its functions, particularly those concerning the application of the Radio Regulations, in a manner which maintains the confidence of Member States;

  • to undertake, in project teams, the study of approved Questions limited in scope and time, as appropriate; and urgent studies decided by WRCs, in preparation for future WRCs;

  • in close collaboration with ITU-D and ITU-T, as appropriate, to assist developing countries in spectrum management and disseminate information and know-how through information meetings, seminars, handbooks and the provision of tools for automated spectrum management;

  • to provide information on widely accepted spectrum management concepts and related regulatory frameworks, particularly with a view to assisting developing countries, and to assist in the application of relevant ITU-R Recommendations providing guidance on the most economical and timely implementation of radiocommunication systems;

  • to issue Recommendations on, inter alia, the characteristics and performance of radio systems;

  • to implement efficient measures to promote broader participation by Member States, particularly developing countries, and Sector Members in all ITU-R activities.

E.4 Priorities of the Radiocommunication Sector

36. The priorities of the Radiocommunication Sector for 1999-2003, in addition to those that may be identified by future conferences, are:

  • to review the world radiocommunication conference process to ensure that it is effective and efficient, that the agendas developed do not unduly burden Member States and Sector Members and consequently burden secretariat resources, and that the intervals between conferences are appropriate;

  • to accommodate the global and regional spectrum requirements of innovative services that will provide communication and information services "any time, any place" (e.g. GMPCS, IMT-2000 and high altitude platform stations, all of which include innovative terrestrial and space applications), by the appropriate consideration of such matters at WRCs and by issuing appropriate Recommendations to facilitate their development and implementation;

  • to study and apply, as appropriate, improved international spectrum management techniques;

  • to facilitate timely coordination between new and existing active and passive systems in both space and terrestrial environments and to develop spectrum regulation initiatives to better harmonize frequency allocations and the use of satellite orbits, while continuing work to improve the frequency coordination and planning process for satellite networks;

  • to expand the assistance offered to Member States in coordinating and registering frequency assignments and in applying the Radio Regulations, with special attention to developing countries and Member States that have recently joined the Union;

  • to collaborate as needed with ITU-T and ITU-D and the General Secretariat to ensure that studies are appropriately coordinated and that no duplication of work occurs;

  • to provide assistance to the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) for the introduction of modern radio systems in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, conduct information meetings and world and regional seminars and give assistance to Member States, with special attention to developing countries, e.g. through the development of handbooks;

  • in improving the working methods of the Sector, to strive for:

– greater use of user-friendly document exchange capabilities;

– the accelerated development of Recommendations and improvement in publication mechanisms (reduction of unit cost and time taken to publish, wider distribution and greater electronic availability);

– increased use of information technology for the notification and processing of frequency assignments;

– a flexible organizational structure in the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR), with special attention to the training and development of the Bureau's staff;

– periodic study group reviews of work programmes to re-establish priorities and improve effectiveness;

  • to encourage greater participation by Member States, Sector Members and other organizations in ITU-R activities, inter alia by concluding formal and informal task-oriented cooperation arrangements.

F. Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T)

F.1 The Telecommunication Standardization Sector mission

37. Under the provisions of the Constitution and Convention (Geneva, 1992), the mission of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector is to fulfil the purposes of the Union relating to telecommunication standardization by studying technical, operating and tariff questions and adopting Recommendations on them with a view to standardizing telecommunications on a worldwide basis.

38. Taking account of rapid change in the telecommunication environment, the mission of the Telecommunication Standardization Sector for the period of 1999-2003 will include:

  • maintaining and strengthening its pre-eminence in international telecommunication standardization by developing Recommendations rapidly, for example through increased Sector Member participation and use in appropriate cases of a faster alternative approval process;

  • developing Recommendations that acknowledge market- and trade-related considerations;

  • playing a leading role in the promotion of cooperation among international and regional standardization organizations and forums and consortia concerned with telecommunications;

  • addressing important issues related to changes due to competition, tariff principles and accounting practices; and

  • developing Recommendations for new technologies and applications such as appropriate aspects of the GII and global multimedia and mobility.

F.2 The Telecommunication Standardization Sector environment

39. The mission is to be undertaken in an environment characterized by:

  • rapid technological change and shortened innovation cycles, development and convergence of telecommunication, broadcasting, computer and information technology, and the growth of new products and services;

  • a worldwide trend towards a "market-driven" approach to standardization, with an emphasis on rapid implementation of high-quality Recommendations;

  • an era of explosive growth in worldwide information transfer;

  • the changing role of governments, and the increased involvement of Sector Members, in the standardization process;

  • the strong influence of relevant regional standardization organizations and forums and consortia;

  • an increased number of network operators and service providers due to deregulation and/or privatization;

  • increasing privatization and heightened competition between and among network operators, service providers and equipment suppliers;

  • increasing number of global telecommunication operators, systems and alliances;

  • greatly increasing demand of developing countries for infrastructure development;

  • potential changes to the financial resources available to support Sector activities.

F.3 The Telecommunication Standardization Sector objectives

40. The overall mission of the Telecommunication Standardization Sector can be realized by targeting the following strategic objectives in ITU-T activities:

  • to produce high-quality Recommendations quickly in response to market demands;

  • to broaden participation and enhance involvement by non-administration entities in the Sector's standardization process;

  • to enhance Sector Member participation in the standardization process, including their involvement in appropriate decision-making;

  • to continue to improve the working methods of ITU-T, including the improved and accelerated development and approval of Recommendations;

  • to develop appropriate arrangements and cooperative relationships with regional and national standardization organizations and forums and consortia;

  • to respond to the impacts of increased privatization and competition in network operation and service provision, and to the reforms in the accounting rate system;

  • to encourage the participation of developing countries in telecommunication standardization activities;

  • to encourage cooperation with the Telecommunication Development Sector through timely responses to relevant requests;

  • to actively involve TSAG in financial aspects of the Telecommunication Standardization Sector.

F.4 Priorities of the Telecommunication Standardization Sector

41. The priorities of the Telecommunication Standardization Sector for 1999-2003, in addition to those that may be identified by future conferences, are:

  • to produce Recommendations responding to technological developments, including Recommendations:

– covering the implementation of the GII, including the definition of an integrated global framework reference model with network-network and network-user interfaces;

– covering Internet Protocol (IP) related aspects as well as the interoperability and convergence of IP-based networks, the Internet, with existing network infrastructures;

– covering the multimedia applications arising from the convergence of telecommunication, broadcasting, computer and information technology;

– covering the further evolution of network infrastructures, for example in the areas of network access, signalling and control, interfaces, security and optical networking;

– facilitating the interworking of global personal radiocommunication systems with public telecommunication networks;

– facilitating the integration of existing and new transmission media in public networks, in cooperation with ITU-R for radio transmission aspects;

  • to continue to improve the working methods of the Sector through the:

– accelerated development of Recommendations to keep pace with rapid technical progress and market demand;

– fostering of cooperative relationships with other relevant standardization organizations and with forums and consortia to avoid duplication of work, identify gaps in work programmes and encourage work sharing where possible;

– increased use of EDH techniques to increase efficiency and productivity;

– greater use of project teams for the study of urgent issues in a relatively short time-frame;

  • to develop Recommendations to achieve accounting rate reform and to propose means to encourage their implementation;

  • to work with BDT with special attention to telecommunication development in developing countries, and to cooperate with the other Sectors in the organization of information meetings, seminars and workshops and in the development of case studies, guidelines and handbooks;

  • to assist in developing for ITU-T an open and transparent "bottom-up" budget proposal that incorporates financial management principles and techniques, including cost recovery as appropriate.

G. Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)

G.1 The Telecommunication Development Sector mission

42. The mission of the Telecommunication Development Sector, as set out in the Constitution and the Convention, encompasses the Union’s dual responsibility as a United Nations specialized agency and executing agency for implementing projects under the United Nations development system or other funding arrangements, so as to facilitate and enhance telecommunication development by offering, organizing and coordinating technical cooperation and assistance activities.

The work of ITU-D will reflect the various resolutions of the world telecommunication development conference. It will place emphasis on gender balance in its programmes and will reflect the needs of other aspects of global society such as youth and the needs of indigenous peoples. Emergency telecommunications is another area where renewed efforts are required. Collaboration with the private sector should be more clearly defined and expanded so as to reflect the changing roles of public and private entities in the telecommunication sector. The "Year 2000" problem should be urgently addressed. ITU-D should also use the mechanisms for advancing Sector goals included in Opinion B of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum (Geneva, 1998) and the opportunities provided by the ITU programme funded by the surplus funds from TELECOM exhibitions.

In fulfilling its mission, ITU-D will cover the five major areas of telecommunication development: telecommunication sector reform, technologies, management, finance and human resources. It is supported by the four main modes of action by which the Sector carries out its work: direct assistance (including project execution), resource development and mobilization, partnerships and information sharing, which are reflected in the organizational structure of BDT.

G.2 The Telecommunication Development Sector environment

43. The telecommunication development environment is characterized by the following features:

  • The restructuring and liberalization of the telecommunication sector at the national and international level, and the three agreements on basic telecommunications services, financial services and information technology products concluded through the World Trade Organization, have increasing consequences for the provision of international and national telecommunication services. Competition is rapidly becoming the rule rather than the exception.

  • The above factors are straining the accounting rate system beyond its limits, calling for a rapid revision of accounting rates and causing major changes in traditional income flows which are of critical importance to certain countries.

  • While the development gap has narrowed slightly in terms of access to basic telephone services, it is widening at a fast rate for advanced telecommunication services and access to information.

  • However, the emergence of a global information society is creating new opportunities to close the gap. Political, technical and cultural factors are combining to promote these opportunities.

  • The rapid development of telecommunications in some countries is associated with general economic growth, particularly where some form of restructuring, liberalization and competition is introduced; however, other countries witness modest and uneven progress.

  • Many different players, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are invited to play a more important role.

  • Business practices, including development activities, are being revolutionized by information and communication technologies. This can be expected to have a significant impact on telecommunication development activities such as planning and training.

  • Technology-based convergence of telecommunications, informatics and mass media offers new opportunities for cooperation between the formerly different parts of the telecommunication sector.

  • Due to increased emphasis on policy and regulatory frameworks that create open markets and encourage private investment, both domestic and foreign, development programmes rely less on technical assistance and more on partnerships and trade agreements. Private capital flows in several countries now exceed official development aid resources, but in others concessional finance is required to meet development needs.

  • Limited funds available to ITU, as compared with developing country needs, require ITU to play a catalytic development role. This envisioned catalytic role of ITU is developed further below.

G.3 The Telecommunication Development Sector strategy

44. The following points define a strategy for the Telecommunication Development Sector that is consistent with its mission and the changing telecommunication environment. ITU-D will:

  • pay special attention to the requirements of the developing countries, with particular emphasis on the least developed among them, and the need for well-differentiated and tailored responses to situations arising in transition economies, countries affected by conflicts or natural disasters, etc.;

  • work with governments to assist them in establishing appropriate telecommunication policies and regulatory structures. Strategies for the development of telecommunications may be fostered by liberalization, private investment and competition in appropriate circumstances. The goal of these policies and structures should be to:

– create a stable and transparent environment to attract investment and guarantee the rights of users, operators and investors;

– facilitate access of service providers to the telecommunication network within a framework that promotes fair competition while protecting network integrity;

– ensure the provision of universal access and universal service, promoting innovation and the introduction of new services and technologies to unserved and under-served users;

– promote partnerships and cooperation between telecommunication entities in developing and developed countries, and with appropriate international institutions, consistent with their respective interests;

  • play a creative catalytic role in identifying and providing resource support, in the new telecommunication environment, to help meet the requirements of developing countries in close collaboration with global, regional and national organizations and agencies, and with the private sector;

  • maintain close cooperation with ITU-R and ITU-T reflecting the significant role played by those two Sectors in telecommunication development;

  • include matters pertaining to information technology and broadcasting in its activities, as key factors in promoting economic, social and cultural development;

  • promote training in human resources development (HRD) and human resources management (HRM) in order to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing telecommunication environment;

  • seek innovative ways to rationalize its internal costs, optimize its resources and improve efficiency.

G.4 Priorities of the Telecommunication Development Sector

45. The experience of four successful years has given the Telecommunication Development Sector a solid basis from which to forecast the following priorities for 1999-2003:

  • respond effectively, rapidly and in a flexible way to requests for direct assistance from developing countries, including through the use of a significant part of TELECOM surplus funds, primarily for LDCs;

  • develop and mobilize resources for telecommunication development, including human and financial resources, technology, HRD/HRM tools and systems, information and expertise;

  • create partnership arrangements that benefit all parties, avoiding purely commercial approaches and concentrating on long-term benefits (as opposed to short-term gains):

– by establishing strategic alliances and cooperation agreements with other concerned international and regional organizations;

– by taking the initiative to acquaint ministries responsible for agriculture, health, education, transport, industry, human settlement, trade and transfer of information with the role of telecommunications for social welfare and general economic and social progress, and in particular the work of the Union in rural and remote areas;

– by inviting relevant bilateral development and donor agencies to join the activities of ITU in order to cooperate within the Sector to maximize synergistic efforts toward sustainable universal access to telecommunication services;

  • promote partnership arrangements in and between the public and private sectors in both developed and developing countries;

  • strengthen the ITU regional presence and enhance collaboration with regional and subregional telecommunication organizations, including broadcasting organizations;

  • collaborate with the private sector in implementing the Valletta Action Plan, including partnerships with related entities in developing countries;

  • improve the working methods of the Sector, to strive for:

– greater use of user-friendly document exchange capabilities;

– greater participation by Sector Members and other organizations in ITU-D activities;

– the accelerated development of outputs and improvement of publication mechanisms, in particular through the wider use of information technology; – a flexible organizational structure in the Bureau, with special attention to the training and development of BDT staff.

46. During the period 1999-2003, the strategic processes of the Telecommunication Development Sector will incorporate all resolutions and recommendations adopted by WTDC-98, as well as all other relevant resolutions and recommendations of ITU conferences.n

Goals, strategies and priorities for the General Secretariat and three Bureaux

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