ITU Newsletter

Hello, ITU Newsletter readers!

We are in Tunisia, attending the second week of ITU’s quadrennial World Telecommunication Standards Assembly (WTSA-16). Follow updates on YouTube, Twitter, the ITU Blog and the WTSA Newsroom.

In the meantime, here are your key ICT trends and insights this week: online privacy in the US gets a boost from the FCC; the UK employment ruling that could change how Uber operates; and why Kenya is ‘No. 1’ for financial and digital inclusion.


ITU Newsletter ITU launches the Women in Standardization Expert Group (WISE) The launch event at WTSA-16 in Hammamet, Tunisia featured a negotiation workshop and a panel discussion. WISE is part of the EQUALS movement, a joint ITU and UN Women campaign to achieve digital gender equality by 2030. Follow the conversation at #beEQUALS and watch the highlights here.

ICT Trends

Key mergers: CenturyLink will acquire Level 3 Communications for USD34 billion, creating “one of the most robust fibre network and high-speed data services companies in the world.” Meanwhile, Qualcomm announced that it will buy chipmaker NXP for an enterprise value of roughly USD 47 billion, which will allow Qualcomm to reduce its dependence on the slowing smartphone market and allow it to enter the growing market for car electronics.

Content: Difficulties in China Netflix recently said regulatory challenges will prevent it from trying to bring its video streaming service to China. Disney, Apple, and Mubi have all seen attempts to provide digital content services in China stall in recent months. 

Privacy: FCC demands privacy ‘opt-in’ The United States’ Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has adopted new privacy rules that require ISPs to get customer consent before they use or share their personal data, such as geo-location, financial information and browser history, but the rules do not apply to “over-the-top” (OTT) players. Meanwhile, Digital Rights Ireland has filed a legal challenge against the EU-US Privacy Shield data framework, arguing that does not contain adequate privacy protections.


Connectivity: Cambodia’s telecom regulator says it plans to impose a 3% tax on the country’s telecoms operators’ gross revenue to help fund the deployment of telecoms networks in rural areas. Meanwhile, residential fixed broadband internet connections expect to be piloted in Cuba towards the years end, a spokesperson for ETECSA is quoted as saying. Cuba’s connectivity goals will be boosted by political normalization with the United States

Regulation: Uber drivers in the UK have won the right to be classed as workers rather than self-employed, potentially threatening the ride-hailing company's business model. Could this also have important implications for OTT regulation policy across industry verticals? Meanwhile, European regulators have ordered WhatsApp to halt data sharing with Facebook during an investigation.


  • Transparency: German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that a lack of transparency about internet search engine algorithms is endangering debate as they “can lead to a distortion of our perception.”
  • Competition: The European Commission will investigate whether a network-sharing agreement between the Czech operators O2 CETIN and T-Mobile is harming competition.
  • Fintech: New cryptocurrency Zcash enters the market, and Swiss railway ticket machines can now exchange cash for bitcoin.
  • Infrastructure: Google Fiber has halted its Gigabit fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout in ten cities across the USA.
  • Startups: Is India’s startup sector is stagnating? Job growth is slowing and total funds raised are estimated to decline 20% year-on-year in 2016. For now, India remains the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world. [SMEs and startups will be in focus at ITU Telecom World 2016]


Why Kenya is ‘No. 1’ for financial and digital inclusion (video) In an exclusive interview with ITU, Safaricom’s Ronald Webb explains how the company found success and what’s next for the digital payments leader.

5G connectivity benefits worth €63.5 billion by 2025? A new European Commission study highlights the socio-economic benefits of 5G, focusing on the healthcare, transport, automotive and utilities sectors. Tim Forde looks at how this can be achieved.

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