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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Regional Seminar On The Economic And Financial Aspects Of Telecommunications/ICTs 
 Study Group 3 
Regional Group For Latin America And The Caribbean (SG3RG-LAC)
Opening Speech
19 March 2013, Mexico City, Mexico
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this Seminar on the Economic and Financial aspects of telecommunications/ICTs, as well as to the Meeting of the Study Group 3 Regional Group for Latin America and the Caribbean.

These events are organized in collaboration with Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones, COFETEL, and represent an excellent platform allowing for the exchange of ideas and experiences on key areas related to telecommunications and ICTs.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Maestro Mony de Swaan, Chairman of Cofetel, and all his team, for hosting these events, and for the tremendous support they are providing, as well as for the very warm welcome we have all received in this fine country!

ITU is pleased to offer you this opportunity to get to know and share one another’s opinions, and your participation here in Mexico underlines the importance of the issues under discussion.

Indeed, as experts in your particular fields, you know better than anyone that sharing experiences and discussing commonalities and differences is the best way forward in terms of finding appropriate solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to inform you that this year’s Global Symposium for Regulators, GSR, and the Global Industry-Regulators Dialogue, GRID, will be taking place in Warsaw, Poland, from 3 to 5 July. This year’s theme is ‘4th Generation Regulation: Driving Digital Communications Ahead’, and we look forward very much to your participation.

In the past few years, BDT has been actively working in matters related to pricing and tariffs, including NGN, broadband, etc. Today, at the request of membership, we are widening the scope of our work to include subjects such as the economic aspects of international Internet connectivity and the taxation of telecommunication services.

In this regard, I am pleased to be able to let you know that BDT has recently carried out studies on these subjects and the results will be discussed here in Mexico.

As you know, compiling data and statistics is one of BDT’s many important activities, which is undertaken via our yearly surveys. Let me therefore warmly encourage you to complete these surveys so that we can keep the ICT Eye database comprehensive and up-to-date. BDT also shares the results from this survey with the works of the LAC Group.

Distinguished participants,

A few weeks ago we published the latest ICT Facts and Figures for 2013, and let me share with you some of the findings:
  • There are now over 6.4 billion active mobile cellular subscriptions globally, and by the end of the year there will be almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people in the world.
  • As global mobile-cellular penetration approaches 100% – and it is interesting to note that mobile penetration in this region is already over 100% – we are approaching market saturation and growth rates have fallen to their lowest-ever levels in both developed and developing countries.
  • In terms of Internet penetration, there are now around 2.5 billion people online, giving a global penetration rate of 35.7%; a number we expect to grow to 38.8% by the end of this year – although very rapid growth in the uptake of mobile broadband, especially in the developing world, may well see progress accelerate event faster.
  • There remains a gender gap, however, with 37% of all women globally online, compared to 41% of men – and this gap widens further in the developing world, where 16% fewer women use the Internet than men.
  • One of the best pieces of news from our new publication concerns affordability – which of course is crucial to increased uptake.
  • Over the past five years, fixed-broadband prices as a share of GNI per capita dropped by 82%, and by 2012, fixed broadband prices in developed countries represented just 1.7% of monthly GNI per capita.
  • In the developing world, however, in spite of impressive progress in many countries, fixed broadband services remain far too expensive, accounting for 30% of average monthly incomes.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Coming back to this week’s seminar, the topics to be covered here were – as is usual practice – defined according to the requests that participating countries made during last year’s seminar and meeting, which was held in Paraguay, as well as in coordination with the management team of this group.

This year the seminar will primarily focus attention on subjects related to:
  • Regulatory and economic strategies for the deployment of NGN and NGA in a broadband environment;
  • The determination of the SMP for converged services;
  • Initiatives to stimulate demand for broadband services and the development of local content; And other interesting subjects addressed from the economic and financial point of view.

This week also offers the opportunity to find out more about the results of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA-12, and the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12, which both took place in Dubai at the end of last year.

The main outcome of WCIT-12 was the creation of new International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs, which of course are the basis of all international communications, with one of their key objectives being to facilitate interconnection and global interoperability.

A number of countries from the region – including Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago – will share with us their experiences on the different topics of the agenda.

Distinguished participants,

I look forward to hearing the results of your in-depth discussions here and let me warmly encourage you – as I know you have always done – to ask questions and make comments to the presenters in order to create a positive exchange platform for shared experience and knowledge.

Last but not least, I would like to thank all the speakers who have come to join us here in Mexico – your efforts are very much appreciated.

Finally, let me thank all of the distinguished delegates for your continuing participation in ITU activities, and for your contribution to the debates. I am confident that the results from this seminar and meeting will be a useful basis for your – and our – future work.

Thank you.