Committed to connecting the world

Global Standards Symposium 2012

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 19 November 2012

Opening Remarks

Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassadors,
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you Secretary-General and Your Excellency Mr Mohammed BIN AHMAD AL QAMZI, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Board of Directors, UAE, for your kind welcoming words.

I am also especially proud to welcome His Excellency Mr Nasser BIN ABOOD AL FALASI, Chief Government Relations & Communications Officer, Etisalat Group, who is our chair for today, and His Excellency Nguyen THANH HUNG, Vice-Minister of Information and Communications, Viet Nam, who was kind enough to chair the first Global Standards Symposium (GSS) in 2008. It good to see you back! In addition my good friend Her Excellency Ms Dina PULE, Minister of Communications, South Africa who has kindly agreed to moderate our first session. I also want to thank the many high-level representatives from industry who are with us here today.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to our hosts, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates.

Four years ago we held the first Global Standards Symposium (GSS) in Johannesburg.

The inspiration for the Global Standards Symposium (GSS) can be found in Resolution 122 of the Antalya Plenipotentiary Conference in 2006 and in Resolution 1272 (MOD) of the ITU Council. At that Plenipotentiary Conference, the ITU membership – representatives from world governments and ICT companies - recognized the need to adequately address strategic issues in standardization as well as the evolving role of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) that starts tomorrow.

This GSS should focus on how best to meet the needs of the global community of standards users in the coming years. That’s developed and developing countries, software companies, hardware manufacturers, service providers, regulators and last but by no means least… consumers.

Standards are demanded by all segments of industry; to provide the common platforms needed for emerging markets to find their feet, or to ensure highly-developed segments remain at the cutting-edge of technological progress. But I don’t need to spend time extolling the virtues of standardization to this audience!

In 2008, we had a vision to better integrate developing countries in the standards-making process.

Today we can proudly say, at least as far as ITU is concerned, that we are doing very well on this count.

In 2010, for the first time, the participation of developing countries in Study Group meetings exceeded that of developed countries.

And we continue to see increasing participation from developing countries at almost every study group meeting.

In fact, over 40 new countries have participated since 2007 – 16 new countries last year alone.

I think we have proven that an enormous amount is achievable through sustained participation in standardization activities.

Increasing the participation of developing countries in the standardization process – bridging the standardization gap - will help reduce the wider digital divide.

Not only does developing-nation participation ensure the global applicability of standards, but it also contributes to the development of these countries’ ICT industries and the associated economic benefits.

A very positive outcome of the 2008 GSS was the establishment of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Group as a means to directly connect technology leaders and the ITU’s standards-making arm.

This group has met four times since 2008 and has been a successful mechanism to inform the direction of our work. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the participants – who at their meeting yesterday produced a communiqué which is available on our website, that highlights some interesting new areas of work for ITU including software-defined networking and smartphone security.

ICTs now permeate all aspects of our lives and a wide range of vertical sectors. A key challenge we will address today is how will we most effectively include vertical market players in the ICT standardization process? The CTO Group meeting yesterday agreed this is a key issue.

ICTs are now mission-critical for all industry sectors. So it’s imperative to take into account the specific needs of each vertical sector.

Innovations such as e-Health, e-Learning, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), Mobile Money and Smart Grid will demand standards developed by the ICT industry in close collaboration with the relevant vertical sector.

At ITU I am pleased to say that we are having some success… for example BMW hosted a recent meeting of our Collaboration on Intelligent Transport Systems where Toyota is also making a strong contribution; Bank of America is contributing to our work on identity management; EDRF is working with us on Smart Grid technology; and Continua Health Alliance on e-health.

But it is clear that we will have to strengthen collaboration with vertical sectors, ICT organizations and other standards bodies to coordinate more effectively, and avoid duplication. I believe that it makes sense to explore innovative ways of organizing our work to meet the new challenges.

I hope today’s discussion will lead to defining a useful way forward for the global standards ecosystem and in particular input to our World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA12) starting tomorrow.

Today we are privileged to be in the company of some of the key thought leaders in international standardization. I am sure we will all welcome this opportunity to network together and coalesce around some principles that can help guide our future work and create an environment of trust, efficiency and clarity in the world of ICT standards. Thank you.