Banner WTPF 2009

Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Sardenberg, President, Anatel

Allow me to speak in Portuguese in honor of our hosts. I would like to address two important questions from our agenda:

  1.  the ITU role in the discussion of Internet governance issues and
  2.  the challenges presented by a new converged environment for national ICT regulators.

I) ITU and Internet governance
The first question I would like to raise is the following: Why is ITU the appropriate forum for discussing Internet governance issues?

A brief answer to that question can be summarized in a few words, namely:
Tradition, Expertise and Legitimacy.

The International Telecommunication Union has an over-140-year history of commitment to connecting the world and helping it communicate, and holds moreover a long-lasting tradition of multi-stakeholder membership. It assembles 191 Member States, over 700 Sector Members and Associates from both private and public sectors, international and regional ICT organizations.

Moreover we can go so far as to say that our Union is essential to Internet Governance and, from the convergence perspective, ITU plays a vital role in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the implementation of the Tunis Agenda and WSIS outcomes, and the consolidation of an inclusive, development-oriented and people-centered Information Society.

This leads us to the inevitable debate on the limited status other international organizations may have in addressing Internet-related public policy issues.

Take ICANN for instance. By no means am I advocating that the responsibilities currently held by ICANN should be assigned to ITU; that would be unreasonable, especially considering the excellent job ICANN already does in managing the Domain Name System (DNS).

Nonetheless, I am just as certain that ICANN’s current working methods, decision-making process and institutional confidence would greatly benefit from this Union’s broad experience, if for instance Governments’ and GAC’s pronouncements were made less “consultative” and more “legally binding”, following the example of ITU’s decision making process.

To sum up, even though ITU should never be the sole forum for discussing Internet Governance issues, it surely is one of the most prestigious and technically capable of doing so and additionally of providing GAC with subsidies for debates. Brazil believes this may be an excellent exercise of transparent, multilateral and democratic Internet governance.

II) The challenges of a converged environment
The second matter I would like to address is the following: What kind of challenges does convergence present for national ICT regulators?

Perhaps, the greatest challenges we face are not really associated to convergence itself, but to the transitional process towards convergence. In other words, regulating ubiquitous next generation networks (NGNs) with a service-oriented architecture is certainly easier than regulating networks at different degrees of evolution and variable levels of convergence in equipment and services.

The current transition in such a heterogeneous environment must additionally preserve the on-going contracts and licenses, deal with limited geographic coverage as well as with problems related to universal service and market imperfections. Developing countries are furthermore urged to confront problems related to lack of capital and low incomes, which limit the access to telecommunications, jeopardize the deployment of new services and the maintenance of adequate consumer service standards.

In such a context of change, the adoption of flexible regulation would be preferable. For ICT regulators, the main challenges of carrying out a smooth evolution towards convergence are: to reduce license issuing, reframe the radiofrequency spectrum, build convergence-oriented capacity and redimension the national backbone capacity in terms of international connectivity.

Taking into account the work that has been carried by the ITU, Member States should re-think the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) through the lenses of a converged NGN-based environment and keep in mind the specific needs of developing countries, such as cost reduction of telecommunication services. It is therefore necessary that the above-mentioned hypothesis be carefully considered.

To conclude, convergence and new technologies are important tools for developing countries as they overcome inherited problems related to poor network coverage and reduce the digital gap by updating their current telecommunication plant and service networks into a modern infrastructure. In this context, the asymmetries between developing countries and between the latter and the developed ones will have to be duly considered. It is thus essential that careful thought be given to the new concept of telecommunication networks, especially on what concerns international traffic and its revenues, as one of ITR’s main topics.

As the regulatory environment rapidly changes, I would like to emphasize the importance of capacity-building for regulators and policy-makers. As far as developing countries are concerned, it is necessary that the issue of human resources management be duly addressed, taking into account the specific needs of different regions and member States in the light of the emerging challenges raised by convergence. ITU has on several occasions recognized the relevance of capacity-building, including in the Secretary-General’s report before us, and it seems necessary to promote continuous dialog and intense exchange of ideas and experiences among regulators on such an important issue. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman