Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me offer you a very warm welcome to Ohrid – it is a real pleasure and a great honour to have so many Commissioners and their representatives here with us today, in this beautiful location.
I would like to thank the Government of Macedonia, and in particular Minister Ivo Ivanovski, for the kind invitation, and for hosting this meeting.
We have a full agenda – and I very much want to make sure we have time for fruitful interactive discussions – so I will be as brief as I can in my welcome remarks.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased with the progress that has been made since we last met in Geneva last October.
Broadband continues to be at the top of the global political agenda, and we are making strong progress in meeting the targets that were set by the Commission at the Broadband Leadership Summit – covering policy, affordability and uptake.
Shortly after we met last year, the UN General Assembly highlighted our work in the Resolution on Information and Communication Technology for Development.
Our research shows their are now 112 countries which have broadband policies in place, and broadband continues to become more affordable in many countries.
As part of ITU’s regular statistics publications (the StatShot series), we created a video graphic reporting on broadband affordability – and I encourage you to watch this on YouTube.
Since October, as part of your call to collect best practices and carry out more analysis, we have been working on country case studies, and we can look forward to an update on this important activity later this morning from my colleague ITU’s Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, Brahima Sanou, who is here with us today.
Another very important development has been the results of the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly and the World Radiocommunication Conference, which took place in Geneva earlier this year.
These two events will help pave the way forward for great advances in mobile broadband:
- Through the approval of the Recommendation and Resolutions that establish the IMT-Advanced technologies;
- Through decisions made concerning sharing issues in the 800 MHz band, which were successfully resolved and which give the green light for the deployment of mobile broadband in this band in Europe and the rest of the world;
- And through the decision to allocate the 700 MHz band to mobile services in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, effective by the end of 2015.
These decisions concerning the ‘digital dividend’ open the way for the worldwide harmonization of both the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands for mobile within a timeframe which is compatible with the general objectives of analogue switch-off – and I know that we will be hearing more on this subject from Minister Ivanovski a little later this morning.
Looking forward, I would like to mention the ICT & Girls campaign, which we are launching in New York on ICT & Girls Day, on 26 April.
We will also be focusing on ICT & Girls in Geneva on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, on 16 May – and I would invite all Commissioners to help promote this very important initiative. You have always stressed to look at issues related to gender and youth. This is initative is a concrete move in that direction.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Jasna Matić, who brokered this idea at the ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara in 2010, and who has just joined us as a Broadband Commissioner.
Broadband will also be high on the agenda later in the year at a number of other events, and notably at the Global Symposium for Regulators, which is being held in Sri Lanka in October, and at the World Conference on International Telecommunications which is taking place in Dubai in December.
We will also be making broadband a key focus of our activities around the General Assembly in New York in September. We will discuss this in the afternoon.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Broadband is going to continue to be transformational throughout the 21st century.
This is much bigger than the Broadband Commission, or even the United Nations.
This affects everyone on the planet, and is arguably the greatest transformative technology in human history.
So let’s keep up the momentum.
We are doing the right thing at the right time.
So let’s keep our eyes on the post-2015 agenda, and decide how we can play our part in defining – and then achieving – sustainable development goals.