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Opening remarks by Mr Leonid Reyman, Minister of Communications and Informatization Russian Federation
World Telecommunication Policy Forum 2001
7 March 2001

On behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, I greet participants in the third World Telecommunication Policy Forum.

We value highly the efforts deployed by the International Telecommunication Union to address the issues associated with the development of IP telephony.

In our view, multilateral consideration of these issues at the highest level but taking due account of the specific features of national telecommunication infrastructures will help to pave the way for successful transition to the global information society and for the establishment of the global information infrastructure (GII).

We consider participation in international work to resolve all the problems involved as a priority policy objective for the Russian Administration.

In recent years, Russia has been actively introducing new telecommunication technologies and working extensively on questions of interactivity, thereby facilitating its integration in the world telecommunication system. For the establishment of broadband transport and multiservice networks, ATM and IP technologies are being used. Modern technologies have been employed for the construction of optical fibre communication links connecting Russia with Denmark, Japan, Korea, Ukraine, Turkey, Italy, Finland, Estonia and China. Work is under way on other large-scale projects.

The telecommunication sector in Russia is now a potentially large market for investors, equipment suppliers and telecom operators, and the Russian Administration is taking measures to make this market more attractive for investment. In December 2000, the Government adopted the "Concept for the development of the telecommunication services market in the Russian Federation", and a draft new version of the Federal Law on "Communications" is being prepared. We are planning over the coming ten years to invest more than USD 30 billion in the development of communications, about half of which is expected to be provided by national operators and half by foreign companies.

As far as the provision of IP telephony services is concerned, the Russian Administration considers that the IP telephony service should not be equated with the conventional telephone service.

IP telephony has been developing in Russia more or less since its inception. From the standpoint of legislation, in mid-1999 it was defined as a communications service, and it is considered as a telematic service, specifically a "telematic service for the conveyance of voice " over "packet-switched data transmission media".

The development of IP telephony in Russia is now regulated by a series of regulatory acts. The basic principles for the application of IP telephony in Russia are set forth in the "Concept for the establishment of a voice transmission system using packet-switching technology". Pursuant to this Concept, IP telephony belongs to the telematic service of real-time voice transmission using IP network resources.

Basic IP telephony services include the various means of establishing switched connection between subscribers/users of an IP network and a public communications network.

Supplementary services include such things as:

As at the beginning of 2001, some 700 licences for service provision had been issued.

Russia's experience shows that, if insufficient attention is given to the regulatory system, this will have a number of consequences that will exert a negative impact on the development of telecommunications as a whole, including IP telephony. Accordingly, the Russian Administration, while underlining the sovereign right of every country to regulate activity in the telecommunication sector, believes in the need to formulate a package of universally accepted rules and principles to regulate IP telephony.

In this respect, we consider that ITU must play a leading role in setting new conditions for the development of IP telephony. It is fitting that the Union, as an organization with enormous potential and experience of standardization in the field of telecommunications as well as significant experience in consolidating the efforts of countries worldwide for the development of telecommunications, should occupy a leading position in addressing the technical, economic and legal issues associated with the establishment and development of global and national markets for IP telephony services.

The primary task is within ITU to define IP telephony and position, it in other words to determine the place and role IP telephony occupies in the list of telecommunication services: is it a new technology on the basis of which new services will be developed, or is it one of the various means of conveying voice signals? The answer to this has great significance for formulating the principles of licensing, for regulation and for the elaboration of economic models in order to eliminate any imbalance in the costs and revenues of traditional operators and IP telephony providers.

Given that IP telephony, as a technological orientation and a field of commercial activity in the telecommunication sector, is developing extremely rapidly, it is necessary to consolidate the efforts of national and international regulatory organizations, especially in the field of standardization. This will enable to us take into account the interests of telecommunication service users, operators and equipment manufacturers - in short the whole telecommunication sector. Having said that, in adopting this approach, account has to be the evolving nature of the process and the specific features of national telecommunication networks.

In our opinion, first and foremost, the following major issues need to be settled:

The rapid development of IP-based technologies also means that data security issues have to be resolved.

In conclusion, I wish to state that the Russian Administration looks forward to constructive discussion of the prevailing issues for the development of IP telephony, taking into account the specific features of the network development approaches adopted in the different States and the global significance of this issue.

Thank you for your attention.

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