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Executive Summary of the Findings of the Group of Experts on Reform of the International Telecommunication Regulations

Executive Summary of the Findings of the Group of Experts 
on Reform of the International Telecommunication Regulations.


Having been appointed by the 1999 session of the ITU Council the members of the Expert Group on the International Telecommunication Regulations have met once in Geneva (8-10 November, 1999) and subsequently worked using e-mail and telephone calls to progress their studies on the ITRs, and their relevance in the current telecommunications environment and its evolution.

Given the broad spectrum of backgrounds which members of the Expert Group had, it is probably fair to say that the one area upon which the entire Group could agree was that if the ITRs which were produced back in 1988, were to be formulated today, they would be different, although the exact nature of the difference and the question of timing the introduction of any revised regulation could not be agreed.

To some degree the disparity of views which have been exchanged within the Expert Group should come as no surprise as the international telecommunications environment has changed considerably during the last 12 years in many countries, since the WATTC-1988.

Initial Findings of the Expert Group

During the first meeting of the Expert Group it became clear that further work would be needed by all Expert Group members to fulfill their mandate as stated in items 1 through 4 of  “resolves to instruct the Secretary-General” of  PP-98 Resolution 79. In reviewing the objectives of the Expert Group a total of four possible “Options” were identified and these are listed in Annex 4 of the November Meeting Report.

In an attempt to develop these “Options” two Working Groups were set up to work using e-mail with the aim of producing separate reports which would effectively review and develop three of the Options identified, one Group (Working Group A) would review the position from the standpoint of Developing Countries and the other Group (Working Group B) would review the ITRs from the standpoint of current and future needs of Member States, particularly where liberalisation was either in place or under implementation.

The outputs of these two Working Groups can be found in the respective reports (attached at Annexes 1 and 2) which were prepared by the mediators shown below

·         Working Group A - Mr. Rohan Samarijiva and Mr. Eckart Lieser. (PDF, Word)

·         Working Group B - Mr. Richard Thwaites, Mr. Fernando Carillo and Mr. Tsunekazu Matsudaira. (PDF, WinWord)

In addition, further discussion resulted in a paper outlining the basis for the fourth Option (Defer Determinations on whether to change the ITRs) and this is provided in Annex 3.(PDF, WinWord)


The varied backgrounds of the Expert Group ensured that a full range of possible approaches and associated issues were explored and documented. To provide a flavour of the scope of the Expert Group discussions, some key points are listed below:

·         The balanced Expert Group reflected a wide ranging difference of opinion with regard to the need for the International Telecommunication Regulations as a Treaty-level instrument, whether they should be amended and, if so, how and when this should occur.

·         This variety of opinions supports the need for further detailed investigation of the options identified in Annex 4 of the November meeting report

·         The Telecommunications Industry is evolving rapidly in line with technological developments and the pace of change is unprecedented. This step change in pace requires the ITU to consider future and more frequent review mechanisms for the ITU Instruments and Roles.

Whilst it is true to say that every member of the Expert Group may have some differing views on the issues, there was general agreement that differing expectations are likely to be placed on any regulatory provisions that are produced in the future. The wide range of views on the relevance of the ITRs both now and in the future, also poses the question as to how these views can be harmonized to produce an international regulatory framework which will be universally respected and will benefit everyone.

The views which have been produced in the form of contributions to the Expert Group, together with the outputs from the Group do not yet provide a simple answer. However the views do provide a number of alternatives to progress the work which needs to be done, for example to produce a “menu of options” that would meet the varying needs of Member States.

These alternatives can be summarized as follows:

1.             At National level the relative pace of privatization and liberalization differs worldwide. This disparity in regulatory evolution requires a specific programme of information and education to identify the benefits and pitfalls which others have experienced. Such Information and Education sessions should also identify the differences in approach which have been adopted by Member States on this issue i.e. identify the prevalent regimes and arrangements.

2.             The formation of Task Groups to produce detailed texts which would enable the following options to be reviewed by Council 2001 to determine the requisite action that would need to be undertaken at the Plenipotentiary in 2002 and/or at a World Conference on International Telecommunications:

                    (a)    The possible termination of the existing ITRs, to be achieved through integration of the relevant provisions into the ITU Constitution, Convention or other instruments such as Recommendations (which could include descriptions of alternative approaches), Resolutions and MoU’s or otherwise.

                    (b)    The modification of the ITRs, with a detailed update of the existing provisions, with a view to keeping the ITRs as a treaty level text.

                    (c)    Detailed proposals explaining why there is a need to defer determinations on whether to review and modify the ITRs.

                    (d)    Proposals for new areas of regulation to enable further development and determination as to which were really appropriate for an inter-governmental treaty level regulatory agreement.

                    A possible combination of the above-mentioned options should not be excluded by the Task Groups in their studies.

Having outlined the alternative approaches which could satisfy the requirements of PP-98 Res. 79 the Expert Group is aware of the dangers of repeating the debates which have taken place already rather than moving forward. In this respect careful consideration needs to be given to the mechanisms which should be employed, the time-frames for output and criteria for assessing the merits of the respective outputs to enable informed discussions to take place prior to PP-2002.

The members of the Expert Group would like to thank the members of the Secretary-General’s staff who have assisted the Group in its work throughout and without whom this series of reports would not have been possible.



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