Committed to connecting the world

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA)

 Opening Remarks  

20 November 2012, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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

Welcome to the extraordinary city of Dubai for the opening of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2012.

Dubai is one of the world’s most modern cities in the world; a city which has risen from the sands of the Gulf Region to become a magnificent symbol of Emirati culture and progress.

It has transformed itself into one of the Middle East’s most important economic centres and is one of the greatest symbols of human achievement in the modern world.

Through visionary leadership and investment in high-quality infrastructure, Dubai and the entire region has committed to harnessing the power and use of ICTs in all facets of its development and vision for the future.

The United Arab Emirates is a great working example of the true power of ICTs for economic growth, social development and modernization in the 21st century.

ICT has become a driving force for growth in the UAE. It is a fundamental component used in creating employment; in attracting skilled labour into the region; and in transforming public services by increasingly taking advantage of new technologies.

We at ITU are proud to hold this World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly in Dubai, and I would like to thank the Telecommunications Regulation Authority for the wonderful facilities and the efficient staff and support they have provided.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The ICT sector is characterized by its fast-paced nature, innovation, competition, collaboration and dynamic change. And we all know that standards are at the heart of all ICTs.

The mandate of the WTSA – which gathers every four years – is set forth in Article 18 of the ITU Constitution.

This includes bearing in mind the particular needs of all its members, to fulfil the purposes of ITU relating to telecommunication standardization.

This is achieved by studying technical, operating and tariff questions, and adopting recommendations on them with a view to standardizing telecommunications on a worldwide basis.

Since the most recent WTSA, held in Johannesburg in 2008, tremendous strides have been made towards the further development of the information society.

We have seen mobile telephony become almost ubiquitous, with over six billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, and well over 100 countries now have mobile penetration rates of over 100%.

The next big challenge is clearly to replicate the mobile miracle for broadband, to ensure that all the world’s people have affordable and equitable access to advanced communications services.

This is why ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development – to advocate for increased global broadband infrastructure rollout and access, and to help accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The key outcomes and procedures that have been implemented since WTSA-08 have continued to reinforce the architecture of standards and regulations that underpin the world’s communications networks.

As a result, ITU continues to be the leading global standardization body.

Five hundred million customers around the world are now connected using broadband equipment based on the work of ITU’s Standardization Sector, and 95% of all international traffic runs over optical fibre, the standards for which are based on ITU’s work.

Over the past four years, ITU has also strengthened its resolve to bridge the standardization gap.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Standardization and interoperability are at the core of Information Communication Technologies.

They are essential to ensure that the host of different devices, communication networks and protocols can communicate and work in parallel to deliver services to end-users with reliability, affordability,  and without delay no matter their circumstances.

In this regard, from a technical perspective, ITU has been the driving force pushing forward the frontiers of the future ICT.

These new frontiers of ICT include cloud computing, the Internet of Things, intelligent transport systems, the transition to IPv6, advanced multimedia, and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV). Taking into account the most important issues of our time: Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Along with other technical institutions, ITU’s technical standardization work is helping to realize the vision of a fully-networked society, as users expect to be able to access high-speed services anytime, anywhere, over any device.

Standards are also essential for international communications and global trade.

Global standards avoid costly market battles over preferred technologies. And for companies from emerging markets, they create a level playing field, providing equal access to markets.

They are also fundamental in assisting developing countries in rolling out infrastructure and encouraging greater levels of social and economic development.

Standards can also reduce costs for manufacturers, operators and consumers, through economies of scale.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

ITU has remained the leading global standards body for telecommunications – and now ICTs – for over a century.

To have maintained the level of credibility and importance that ITU has achieved over so many decades is an incredible feat.

The challenge is to ensure that it remains this way.

I am confident that the decisions and resolutions formulated at WTSA-12 will be directed by the needs of the global community and steered by ITU’s vision to ‘Connect the World’.

I would like to welcome all participants here today including the Public and Private sectors.  We have a record participation to this Assembly, which signifies your commitment to work together, continuing the ITU spirit of Cooperation, Collaboration,and Consensus.

I wish you a very successful Assembly.

Thank you.