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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Americas Region Preparatory Meeting for the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12)

Buenos Aires, Argentina, 14 May 2012


Ceferino Namuncurá, Interventor, Comisión Nacional de comunicaciones
Hector Carril, Asesor, Secretaría de comunicaciones
Clovis Baptista, Secretario-General, CITEL

Buenos días, es un gran placer estar aquí y darles la bienvenida a esta reunión preparatoria. En nombre del Secretario General de la UIT querría dar gracias a la Comisión Nacional de Comunicaciones y la Secretaría de Comunicaciones, por acoger amablemente este evento.

Desde que yo he sido Director TSB, he visitado Argentina cuatro veces, dos veces para reuniones de UIT y dos veces para reuniones de CITEL. Estamos muy agradecidos a Argentina para su gran apoyo.

De hecho yo querría dar gracias todos los miembros de esta región para su interés creciente en el trabajo de UIT-T.

Adicionalmente querría dar gracias a Clovis Baptista, el Secretario general CITEL por su excelente colaboración con la UIT y para su ayuda a organizar esta semana.

Ladies and gentlemen

WTSAs enable ITU, as the only truly global ICT standards body, to review the global situation and adapt our priorities and work accordingly.

Standardization is a complex business, and it is getting more complex by the day.

Globalisation requires global standards, and a global standards body like ITU clearly has an increasing role to play. International standards are essential for international communications and global trade. International standards avoid costly market battles over preferred technologies. For companies from emerging markets, they create a level playing field, which provides access to world markets. They are an essential aid to developing countries in building their infrastructure and encouraging economic development. Through economies of scale they can reduce costs for all: manufacturers, operators and consumers.

WTSA 2012 falls in a very busy and significant year for ITU.

We had a Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) meeting early in January. This was a very significant meeting establishing three new Focus Groups: From Innovations to Standards; Machine-to-machine (M2M) Service Layer; and network resilience. TSAG also decided on how to take forward the work of the Focus Groups on Smart Grids and Cloud Computing in Study Groups 11, 13 and 15.

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2012 reached a successful conclusion in February. Over 3000 participants, representing 165 of ITU’s 193 Member States attended the four-week Conference, braving the extremely cold weather in Geneva. I am sure, despite climate change, we will not have to suffer such weather for the WTSA!

I am very confident that we will have excellent facilities in Dubai thanks to UAE’s commitment: a fantastic conference centre, excellent weather, a wide choice of superb hotels in the close vicinity at a very reasonable rate, a clean and safe environment, everything we need to ensure an excellent result.

Of course we also have the second Global Standards Symposium (GSS) the day before WTSA on 19 November, and the World Conference on International Telecommunications will follow, beginning on 3 December.

The GSS is a one-day event where ministers, regulators, heads of other international, regional and major national standards bodies, and industry from the different regions of the world will discuss global ICT standards challenges with a focus on the intersection between the ICT sector and other vertical sectors such as health care, utilities, and transport.

The Chairman of the GSS will present the conclusions of the GSS to the first Plenary meeting of the WTSA and I am sure that as in Johannesburg the WTSA will act on these conclusions.

Three weeks ago ITU and WHO held a joint workshop on e-Health standards and interoperability. It was clear from the outcome that we need to do more in this field. There is a real problem of lack of interoperability in proprietary e-Health standards. The workshop marked the start of much closer collaboration with WHO on e-health standards.

e-Health will be the subject of one of the three side events that will be held during WTSA. The others will be on ICT innovation in developing countries, and resilience of networks to natural disasters.

We are also organising a small exhibition showcasing some of the exciting new products that are being produced to ITU-T standards.

Circular letter No. 251 of 24 January 2012 has invited Member States and ITU-T Sector Members to propose candidates for Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of ITU-T study groups, Study Group 3 Regional Groups, the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) for 2013. The WTSA will also need to appoint a chairman and vice-chairmen for the Standardization Committee for Vocabulary. A list of candidates is available online [ ].

There have now been a few nominations and I look forward to hearing of some candidatures from this region.

Circular letter No. 252 of 15 February 2012 provided, among other items, information on

  • Conditions for invitation and admission
  • Draft structure of the Assembly
  • Items for consideration by the Plenary meeting
  • Submission of contributions
  • Document distribution
  • Registration
  • Fellowships
  • Tribute to former collaborators in ITU-T activities
The series of regional preparatory meetings started seven weeks ago with the APT meeting in Cairns, Australia, followed by the CIS meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and then the Arab meeting in Cairo and now this one for the Americas region, and finally the African meeting in Durban next week. ITU Secretariat is also participating in the frequent European CEPT meetings.

In July there will be a special session of TSAG on 2-4 July to prepare for the WTSA.

ITU-T study groups will meet up until September 2012 and will propose a set of new and revised Questions for WTSA-12 to consider.

The last WTSA in Johannesburg was very significant in many ways: it was the first WTSA where the time limits on chairmanships came into effect so we had many new chairmen and vice-chairmen.

The conference identified many new areas of work, such as climate change, cybersecurity, bridging the standardization gap, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, and conformance and interoperability testing. It also decided on a major restructuring of the Sector, something that had been attempted but never accomplished in previous WTSAs. It also initiated the new academia membership, the reduced sector membership fee for companies from certain developing countries, and what is now the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues. ITU-T’s working processes are now the most efficient of any standards body and we have a structure that allows the Sector to make a significant contribution to the Union’s mission – to connect the world.

So this WTSA could be more of a consolidating conference. For example APT has decided that we should not reduce the number of Study Groups, and similarly RCC and the Arab Group have decided we should keep the current 10 Study Groups.

Decisions taken in Johannesburg gave the ITU-T Sector a significantly increased role in many new areas, and this has attracted many more participants. In fact over 40 countries have participated in ITU-T since 2007 that had never done so before. Last year alone we welcomed 16 countries new to ITU-T.

Following WTSA-08 we prepared an Action Plan on the implementation of the decisions made and have regularly updated it. It is available on our website. I am pleased to report that we are well on the way to fulfilling the mandate given by WTSA-08 with many significant developments since then.

That said, it is vital given the vast breadth of membership of ITU to regularly examine the ICT environment and understand how best the Sector can meet the challenges of the coming years and take into account the needs of all our membership whether Member State, Sector Member, associate, academic member, developed or developing country.

Much of the success for the last WTSA was due to the good regional preparations and also informal discussions between regional representatives ahead of the conference. I am sure that your deliberations this week will again help to achieve another very successful WTSA in Dubai this November, and I would hope the region can participate in an informal discussion during the TSAG on 2 July.

I thank you all for participating and my colleagues, Hector Huerta-Reyna, ITU Regional Director, Richard Hill, Paolo Rosa and Leslie Jones of TSB, Nelson Malaguti of BR, and I will do all we can to facilitate a successful meeting.