Ladies and Gentlemen,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
It is a great honour for me to open the Fourth World
Telecommunication Policy Forum and I would like to thank the
Secretary General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, for the
Let me congratulate Portugal for hosting and organising such
an important event and warmly thank Mário Lino, Minister for
Public Works, Transport and Communications of Portugal for the
excellent work that he and his department have put into the
organisation of this event.
Today the World Telecommunication Policy Forum faces new
Technological challenges, as illustrated by the convergence
phenomenon and the emergence of Next Generation Networks (NGNs).
These two technological revolutions bring together multiple
devices and services to compete on a common IP-based level
playing field, where service delivery is no longer tied to a
single physical transmission platform. More service providers
can compete with established network operators to offer
end-users, at a higher speed, multiple combinations of data,
voice and video services. This is the future. This development
will boost competition and is a great step forward for
consumers’ choice and ultimately consumers’ welfare. Nonetheless
certain market players may consider these evolutions as a
competitive threat and could be tempted to try to prevent them.
Therefore policy makers must be prepared to react so that the
gains from high speed connectivity delivered over NGNs are not
put at risk.
Finding a balance to reflect the increasing weight of
emerging and developing countries is a political challenge that
the European Commission is committed to meet. Funds have been
provided that are managed by the ITU. They will help ACP
countries develop regulatory frameworks to reap the full
benefits of the technological revolution in the telecom sector
with positive economic effects on growth and development.
There are also global challenges such as the contribution of
ICT to the recovery of the economy and in the fight against
climate change. Today we face increasingly complex economic and
societal issues, unprecedented in the history of mankind. We
have to think of new ways to address them and ensure that these
efforts will generate lasting effects. As European Commissioner,
I must insist on the need to complete the Internal Market which
is an absolute prerequisite for Europe to come out of the crisis
and move towards growth.
To relaunch the economy several measures are being envisaged.
ICTs are part of the package because our technologies play a
horizontal role underpinning the economic, social and industrial
activity with the added potential to improve the sustainability
of our environment. Think of the applications for improving
energy efficiency, energy security, monitoring the environment,
implementing smart power grids and integrating new sources of
renewable energy in the power supply. Think of the business and
job opportunities they represent.
I cannot end without stressing the importance of better and
overall availability of higher speed broadband as the
cornerstone for the future development of our society and of our
economy. It is the only way to bring the benefits of the
innovative ICT technologies and services to all citizens
throughout the European territory. The Commission is currently
working on a proposal for a package of measures to develop a
European Broadband strategy, while we are already close to
reaching an agreement on the new telecom regulatory package,
which will also act as a stimulus for European economies, by
enhancing regulatory predictability and legal certainty across
the EU, thus providing a strong incentive to invest in NGNs for
any market player.
The European Commission is pleased with the excellent working
relationship with the ITU and we look forward to a successful
conclusion of your work this week. We will follow the outcome of
this Forum with great interest.
I wish you all a very successful conference.