Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)

 Lunch Talk

04 May 2013, Bangkok, Thailand
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure to be here with you in the wonderful city of Bangkok today – and to have this opportunity to discuss ‘Broadband trends in a converged environment’.

As Secretary-General of the ITU, my mission is to ‘Connect the World’ – and I firmly believe that if we can succeed in achieving our mission, then we will see unprecedented social and economic improvement for all.

As we move forward, we will also continue to make bold steps in accelerating progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals – and indeed other sustainable development goals beyond 2015.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have really made the most extraordinary progress in the first twelve years of the new Millennium.

In the year 2000, around half the people in the world’s richest countries had a mobile phone, and mobile penetration in the Asia-Pacific region was just 6.4%.

Today there are some 6.4 billion active mobile phone subscriptions globally, and mobile penetration in this region is now close to 90%. Here in Thailand, of course, mobile cellular penetration is even higher, having reached 124% by the beginning of this year.

At the beginning of the Millennium, around 280 million people used the Internet worldwide. In not much more than a decade, however, that figure has grown almost ten-fold to reach just over a third of the world’s population.

And yet we still have a long way to go.

Because two thirds of the world’s people – some 4.5 billion people – are still offline.

This means that:

  • Almost two thirds of the world’s people are still locked out of the world’s biggest and most valuable library.
  • Almost two thirds of the world’s people are still refused access to the world’s biggest market place.
  • And almost two thirds of the world’s people are still denied the extraordinary opportunities now available to the other third.

Distinguished colleagues,

The importance of bringing the rest of the world online is one of the main reasons why ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development three years ago.

We now have close to 60 Broadband Commissioners – all leaders in their field – representing governments, industry, academia and international agencies, and they are doing great work in advocating the importance of policy leadership.

Here in Thailand, this is well understood – and especially by the NBTC, which clearly understands that ongoing ICT development and expansion in this fine country will depend on continuing progress in adapting the telecommunication and broadcasting regulations to fit the newly-converged environment of today.

It is very encouraging to see the progress that is already being made as Thailand starts to migrate from the concession regime to a licensing regime – and I congratulate you on the first spectrum auction on 2.1GHz which took place late last year.

ITU was very pleased to be able to assist NBTC in the auction review for this, and we look forward to seeing the continuing benefits which come from assigning mobile spectrum through transparent market mechanisms.

NBTC should also be congratulated for the efforts which have gone into the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting. We have been happy to work with NBTC on the roadmap for this, and we are looking forward to seeing digital terrestrial TV broadcasting being deployed in Thailand this year.

Once this has happened, careful consideration will need to be given to how best to use the resulting digital dividend to improve mobile broadband rollout and uptake, and how best to harmonize spectrum to create economies of scale and improved interoperability.

Careful thought will also need to be given to the way ahead as Thailand embarks on the roadmap towards next generation technologies. Clearly, NBTC will be looking at long-term strategies and taking into account the importance of considering all of the bands as a whole, rather than auctioning fragmented portions of spectrum, for example, as well as looking at options such as infrastructure sharing, which have proven effective in other markets.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As Thailand meets its connectivity targets, it also needs to make sure that it keeps the Internet safe and secure, and this means addressing cybersecurity issues, which are a growing concern in all countries.

The most recent statistics suggest that losses of over 100 billion dollars annually are being caused by cybercrime, and that some 550 million people are being targeted by cyberattacks every year.

In financial terms, this is the equivalent of the entire GDP of a country like Morocco, Slovakia or Bangladesh – and in population terms, it is the equivalent of more than all the inhabitants of Europe.

We must therefore work together to set international policies and standards, and to build an international framework for cybersecurity and cyberpeace.

At ITU we are proud of the ITU-IMPACT initiative, which is the first truly global multi-stakeholder and public–private alliance against cyberthreats, which already brings together more than 140 countries – including of course Thailand and most of the other countries in this region.

To be truly effective, however, such initiatives must also include participation from all stakeholders, including both the public and private sectors, as well as international organizations and civil society.

Indeed, if we are succeed in any of our ambitions then we will need all stakeholders to work together.

Here in Thailand, the NBTC, as the national regulatory authority, has a vital role to play in safeguarding users from cyberthreats, and especially in protecting vulnerable groups such as children and adolescents.

Distinguished colleagues,

Before I close, let me mention two very important events happening here in Bangkok later this year, and let me express my profound appreciation to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand for hosting them.

I am referring of course to the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit, which is taking place on 18 November, and ITU Telecom World 2013, which follows immediately afterwards.

These events are a platform for high-level representatives from across this booming region, as well as across the globe, to come together to network, share knowledge, collaborate and create real change.

The ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit will present an opportunity for the countries in the region to make a political statement that demonstrates that the private sector, industry, and development partners are very much open to ICT business.

As part of the preparations, ITU will be consulting with our Members and supporting them as they develop bankable projects that will be presented to potential partners and investors at the Summit.

A platform will also be provided for bilateral negotiations and concluding win-win agreements – and of course ITU will be there to facilitate the exchanges.

We are expecting Heads of State and Government and the feedback we have received so far indicates that this will be a Summit which can really make a difference.

As regards ITU Telecom World 2013, this year’s theme is ‘Embracing Change in a Digital World’, focusing on five key topics: changing user behaviour; shifting industry dynamics; the need for radical new business models; new technologies; and the need for new regulatory and standardization approaches.

Creativity, innovation and key regional investment opportunities from countries around the world will be on show within our National Pavilions.

Through all its activities, showcases, debates and conversations – be they in the forum, on the showfloor or at networking events – ITU Telecom World 2013 will have the power to make a real impact, both to the future of the industry and to the future well-being of all the world's citizens, and I am delighted that the event is taking place right here in Bangkok.

We are particularly grateful for the significant support from NBTC for these two events, and let me take this opportunity to encourage NBTC to organize a specific event or seminar within the context of ITU Telecom World 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In closing let me remind you of the significant benefits of becoming Sector Members of ITU, and let me warmly encourage you to look into joining our organization and playing a part in shaping the future of global ICTs.

Our regional office here in Bangkok will be delighted to give you any further information you may require – and of course is on hand to assist the NBTC in any regulatory matters.

For my part, let me thank you once again for this opportunity to be with you today, and let me say how much I look forward to watching Thailand’s progress towards a bright digital future.

Thank you.