Dr. Bob Horton, Australia
Candidate for the post of Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB)
Many consider that the ITU is threatened by the upheavals of the telecommunication industry. New organizations such as the WTO or regional bodies take center-stage and industry fora that are less formal and more focused multiply. What future do you see for the ITU? What would be your personal contribution (what initiatives/focus would you bring) as elected official to bringing innovation and fostering the adaptation of the Union to the driving forces of change so as to keep the ITU a pre-eminent forum for international telecommunications?
To describe the changes in the environment as threatening is perhaps not quite the right perspective. I believe that we are standing on the doorstep of a 21st century where we will see limitless potential and opportunity unfold in telecommunications and related industries.
The ITU is very well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities. At the same time, the forces of convergence will bring about enhanced and more efficient forms of information delivery, entertainment, business transactions, and communications which can serve to benefit fundamental humanitarian rights and developments which will assist social and economic development.
In this huge scenario, many national, regional, and international bodies will find an involvement, and many are doing so already. The ITU has a special and unique place, and part of its challenge is to recognise and build on the linkages and cooperation at these various levels, as required for the new century, rather than to consider the various actors as competitors.
Turning to the particular situation within the telecommunication standardization sector, to my mind we presently have a tension between history and reality. This has been brought about by the staggered evolution from monopoly operations to a competitive environment, and the trend away from PTTs to network operators whose responsibilities are more closely focussed on corporate commercial goals in an often hostile competitive environment. It goes without saying that these operators expect timely standardization outputs that meet market needs. Duplication needs to be avoided; and they seek more effective process management of non-regulatory product.
In recognition of the new environment, the ITU should thus be in the business not of competition, but of partnership which recognises natural strengths, the value of coordination, and logical and efficient allocation of resources. International standardization no longer has a simplistic single focus. The ITU-T can build on its current strengths and at the same time allow greater freedom for market control of its standards products to ensure future relevance, acceptance and pre-eminence - through various acceptable forms of devolution of responsibility in areas where this is appropriate.
One key element in the future role will be to increasingly foster the vitality and contribution to international standards-making offered by regional telecommunications organisations such as ETSI or the T1 Committee or ASTAP, and various fora and consortia eg. the ATM Forum or the Internet Society. The willingness to forge a cooperative future has, in the recent past, been demonstrated in the Global Standards Collaboration (GSC) group which meets every 15 months or so, and within TSAG. It is now time to move further forward, based on the trust which has developed.
As a corollary to this diffusion and information sharing, the importance of subtended relationships, such as between North America and CITEL or the Caribbean Union will assume much greater importance. Likewise other groupings such as the African States and the Arab States should be recognised and encouraged in their role of contributing to development of global consensus.
The ITU Executive and Secretariat have substantial responsibilities to ensure that the ITU as a body truly serves the needs of its members. These needs will be expressed in the basic platform that is agreed at Minneapolis and the directions given to the elected executives, including the Director of the TSB. Naturally, the freedoms and flexibility to pursue any particular courses of action will flow from that. We can anticipate that this Plenipotentiary Conference will be having full regard to the needs and views of Sector Members, such as those put forward by ETNO. This is both timely and appropriate, as I believe the new global order in the provision of telecommunications needs to be recognised in the work of standardization. Although progress has begun (eg. within TSAG) there is much more to be done and at an increasing pace.
I can only say that I would fully exercise whatever flexibility is reaffirmed and extended to the position of Director TSB in Minneapolis, especially in areas such as working methods and work sharing. Prior to the outcomes of Minneapolis, a fine detail blueprint is not practicable. However, my philosophy, approach and the principles that I would work to, fall into a number of areas -
- structural : relationships and work program expectations in the new environment
- working methods : harnessing innovation through acceptable agreements
- visionary : pre-eminence implies achieving worlds best practice
- culture and delegation : it is people in the organisation who will make it happen
- strategic relevance : long term planning and directions
- communication : consultative/ cooperative approach to realising and sharing goals
- electronic communication : essential to efficient working
Right now, the standardization function is under scrutiny. However, it has the potential to mature into a position of even greater respect and value to the Sector. TSAG has started along this road. I would aim to continue that journey, based on thorough and sensitive consultation, including seeking the advice of TSAG, amongst others.
In this , I will be assisted by my own personal knowledge and experience as Chairman of TSAG for four years during 1993 - 1996, and my close involvement with GSC - having been involved with its predecessor ITSC2 in France & ITSC 3 in Japan; I was also Chairman of GSC1 held in Australia and co-Chair of GSC3 in Korea.
In todays telecommunication environment, it is no longer realistic to believe that the Union can be the focal point for all matters relating to telecommunications in the global information economy and society. The world is now too complex and telecommunications too pervasive for a single organization to be the focus of all issues of concern to the international community. What do you consider to be the core competencies of the ITU? What issues should ITU focus on and what could be phased out of ITUs mandate or left to regional/sub-regional organizations? What should be ITUs role in telecommunication sector reform?
The ITUs core competencies centre on its ability to identify and promote global consensus. As an institution, the ITU is independent of particular interests on any given issue, and provides open processes through which differing interests can be brought to the closest possible common ground. Because of its long history, its wide agenda and its global reach, the ITU has unmatched access to two key resources : the technical expertise and experience of its global Sector membership, and the economic and policy perspectives of its Member governments. There are reliable and respected mechanisms for mobilising these resources for mutual benefit, through the ITUs wide range of activities supported by its members. And all of this is enabled by the existence of a competent organisational secretariat. The ITUs strengths as a forum for policy making and for the development of regulatory frameworks for reference and guidance provide a reasonably secure foundation on which the ITU will continue to prosper. This provides a meeting point for government and industry to discuss and exchange views and information on emerging issues of importance to the industry.
In terms of issues to focus on, I would like to refer to the specific mandate of the T-sector. The application of the ITUs core competencies does require that all relevant work must take place under an ITU program. However, it is not necessary for the ITU-T work program to cover the whole gamut of standards making that it pursues at present. Candidate material of a specific and detailed systems nature (eg. for product standards), could be sourced from lead houses under agreed conditions of its generation, whilst broader architectural and switching and transport platform support, reference models etc. could be continued within ITU-T as core effort, along with regulatory work. Market place priorities should automatically act as a guide for areas to tackle in the first instance eg. IMT 2000, B-ISDN, TMN, GII, numbering, portability, and interconnection interfaces. The work methods associated with devolved responsibility might be expected to demonstrate the criteria of transparency and open-ness which distinguish a true standard that will command respect.
The principles of these potential work sharing efforts and thus the structural responses to todays challenges need to be progressively advanced, within TSAG and GSC for example, perhaps in an evolutionary fashion, but consistently. The WTSC 2000 (or Assembly, if so named by then) should be seen by the new Director as a milestone in establishing the new blueprint of principles and programs, and will provide the opportunity for devolved responsibility to be formally mapped out. In this way the ITU-T can respond effectively to the current changes, having re-engineered itself for the new millenium and the new relationships within the industry and between industry and governments. Some good work has been done so far, but momentum and direction must be vigorously maintained if optimum results are to be delivered.
These are the real boundaries for discussion, and in my view they are more pressing than the boundaries of work between ITU-T and ITU-R which have been explored quite thoroughly in the past (and for which I had the direct experience and pleasure of chairing an ad hoc group at the Additional Plenipotentiary Conference in 1992). If working methods are consistent across ITU-T and ITU-R then some natural associations are likely to continue, and most of us could recite the reasons why this should be so. If, however, efficiencies were to diverge then natural market forces, in the form of pressure from Sector Members, would bring about a correction. This dynamic situation is actually a desirable state of affairs, as, like work sharing in standardization, it puts a greater management emphasis on the process to the market place in non-regulatory product.
The flow on from these considerations is the responsibility which would be transferred to regional bodies and fora etc. No longer would they have a one-stop shop (in ITU-T) for standards development to turn to for information and guidance on all international standardization matters, and indeed they may inherit some of the work load which is relevant and best done by them.
These factors will help shape the future direction of regional telecommunications bodies, and for instance in the Asia-Pacific, where I chair the ASTAP standardization program involving 29 countries, matters of this nature are exercising our concerns and preparations for the future.
The significant reforms taking place in the telecommunications sector have several inter-related aspects. New technologies make possible new services that make possible new industry structures. On the other hand , new regulatory structures may stimulate new services that demand new technologies, new standards of operability, and so forth. With each of these developments, the need for a global consensus approach is ever more clear. The ITU is the one organisation that can bridge all of these kinds of issues on a global scale, and thus the progress of sectoral reform enhances, rather than diminishes, the ITUs multiple role in -
- providing a policy forum for discussion and guidance on regulatory and policy matters
- encouraging a stronger focus on supporting synergies with regional developments
- creating working relationships and partnerships with regional organisations and fora etc. in the role of a facilitator of the new global order
- creating standards in the ITUs core competence areas, and regulatory areas
- promoting the "internationalisation" of standards material initiated outside the ITU processes.
Recent ITU conferences have shown that the requirements of global networks and national sovereign rights are increasingly on a collision course. How can they be reconciled in an ITU context?
Like any treaty-based international organisation, the ITU is founded on the principle that greater national benefits may be gained when all parties exercise their sovereign rights to achieve consensus and compromise for the greatest mutual benefit. While the emergence of multiple and competing global network organisations may challenge some of the assumptions on which current ITU agreements are based, the basic principles remain the same. Global networks cannot exist without the co-operation of national networks.
A recent example of an effective ITU role in such matters was the facilitation of the GMPCS MOU process. Following that voluntary and collective process, developing global network operators have been able to negotiate with individual national network operators and administrations on the basis of mutual benefit. Similar ITU contributions may be called for in other areas such as settlements principles, interconnection regimes, and developing a sound basis for comprehensive global deployment of IP connectivity.
The ITU offers the considerable strengths of an international reach and influence for standards, together with the trust and confidence of developing countries. Its role may be critical in those countries where governments maintain strict control over relevant standards matters. In itself this requires a delicate balancing act of the ITU, but one in which it is essential to recognise the needs and aspirations of the total ITU membership and the internal value of the partnership. That internal relationship and interdependency between ITU Sectors provides the most solid attraction and guarantee for the future of the ITU.
Global network operators would not benefit from a plethora of standards applying around the world in various countries and regions. This would militate against the benefits of economies of scale in products and services, and hence supports the use of international standards. At the same time, national sovereign rights need to be respected. Where conflicting opinions occur then there is an opportunity for an organisation such as the ITU to take a leadership role in both the broad policy role and at the detailed level of technical resolution. In core competency areas of the ITU, then there can be no better place to resolve issues. However, it must be demonstrated that the result can be delivered in the appropriate forum whether this be the ITU Policy Forum or whether it be in a Sector forum such as TSAG.
Demands on the organization are increasing faster than its resources: deregulation brings more players on the scene and, in turn, more members in the ITU; on the other hand, the financial foundation of the organization is eroding because of the smaller number of contributory units chosen by members. Various proposals to strengthen the ITU including cost-recovery and revenue-generation options have met stiff resistance as did the proposal to grant the industry a greater say in the allocation of resources and in the setting of priorities in exchange for a more important share in the expenses. What would you advocate as the way forward?
A very significant resource which applies to the process of standards making is the voluntary resource of persons provided by Sector Members and Member States in order to create standards. Without this, nothing is possible.
From this regard, a consolidation of standards creation activity within the ITU-T on to core competencies outlined above would have a great effect on resource demand both directly for the contributors through reduced demand for participation, and indirectly through a reduced demand on the ITU-Ts support services. Resources could then be directed to agreed priority work which would be the most rewarding for the resource donors and participants.
It is also possible that further discussion of directed funding might provide relief to a strained budget.
If the ITU is to be pre-eminent in global standardization then we must aim to achieve the worlds best practice in carrying out the work, as well as ensuring that we undertake the appropriate work. This will need staff within the ITU-T who are motivated with the same vision of the way forward. As Director of the TSB, it would be my challenge to deliver a convincing shared vision to staff of the Bureau. From my own experience I can testify to a multiplying factor of synergy which can only come from genuine team effort and a sense of being part of the team. I believe my track record in senior management roles and in responsible ITU roles speaks for itself. I do not claim full personal credit for all achievements, but must give recognition for the dedication and enthusiasm of those who have worked with me, for example the Vice Chairmen of TSAG, SG Chairmen, and Bureau staff. I enjoy delegating responsibilities and I value highly the associated opportunity which is passed on for personal development and expression.
On the issue of budgets: if the ITU is to remain pre-eminent then tangible measures or indicators should be in place to qualify the allocation of resources, and for accountable management and feedback. These are normal tools of management understood by the ITUs members and contributors, and they indicate the level of performance against objectives as set out in any corporate planning exercise. These are standard procedures in organisations with which I have been involved.
Coming from a background of management accountability, transparency, and attention to budgets causes me to feel at home with the proposals coming forward from the ITU 2000 recommendations. Depending on their acceptance at Minneapolis, I would look forward to working within this framework.
The level of accountability and transparency would then contribute to the degree of control in order to match or shape resource profiles to demand priorities.
Given the broad membership of the organization (vendors, scientific organizations, service providers, broadcasters in countries from the poorest of the planet to the most powerful nations), how can the organization address their competing needs in a cost-effective way?
With regard to addressing the competing needs of a diverse array of membership, a key element pioneered by the ITU-T, and in particular oversighted by TSAG from its inception under my Chairmanship, has been the use of electronic working methods. These serve to reduce the disadvantage of distance, and allow affordability of involvement in the standardization process eg. through expert, rapporteur, or focus groups. The methods also speed up progress towards an end result which is needed urgently in the marketplace.
Electronic working methods also allow immediate availability to the ITUs data bases, and the prompt delivery of products eg. standards material. These data bases are a powerhouse of information which serves the needs of the membership and others, from the most advanced technology and service producers to the most developing consumers.
If standards creation is to be more decentralised in the future, then transparency, open-ness and lowering of barriers to participation will be greatly alleviated by electronic access to source processes and organisations.
Acceptable principles of work sharing can provide an appropriate basis to decide what work should continue to be done by the ITU-T, according to the needs of a diverse membership. In this way, more options can become available for satisfying diverse demands.
The business of standards production and distribution is a significant business undertaking in its own right. The ITUs diverse membership is served well by the productive capacity within the ITU. I am familiar with the management of standards production and distribution, as I am a Board Member of Standards Australia which prints and distributes all Australian standards.
Standards Australia is also the national member for ISO and the IEC, which keeps me abreast of initiatives in these sister organisations at the international level. For example, the work sharing arrangements arrived at through the Dresden Agreement between the IEC and CENELEC.
As a final comment in this area, quite often a single forum for diverse matters can be cost effective. Such is the nature of TSAG where many intersecting interests and problems are resolved. TSAG has been able to address issues of relevance to other Sectors, and as Chairman of TSAG, I particularly ensured that the Director BDT was personally invited to represent issues from the development sector. At the end of my term as Chairman, I strongly advocated a future role for a Vice Chairman for TSAG dedicated to development issues as a means of elevating these within the agenda and work of TSAG.
The 1995-1999 Strategic Plan said "At present, the ITU is surely one of the least known international organizations, in spite of the fact that the development of the global telecommunication network is increasingly vital to the welfare of humanity. The Members of the Union have asked it to play a leadership role in the international community. To do this, the ITU must communicate its message more effectively than it does at present, to ensure that governments are aware of the importance of telecommunications as a tool for social and economic development". What concrete steps would you take to fulfill this objective, what would be your "Communication" agenda?
Articulating and communicating a vision is an essential requirement in gathering support and consensus. It is the final but critical stage of the emergence of a strategy. I have significant experience in communicating, for example through some 100 or so individual publications and presentations at conferences throughout the world, and in representing my organisation in dealings with high level government and industry representatives. Communication is a two way phenomenon. Presentational ability requires the skill to also listen.
My underscoring agenda would include, in the near term, development of a blueprint for WTSC 2000. Along the way my approach would be consultative, three-fold, and concurrent:
- firstly and essentially, consultation with external stakeholders on implementation perhaps through a discussion paper mapping out options;
- secondly, advice from existing composite bodies and efforts moving in this direction eg. TSAG and GSC; and
- thirdly, galvanising a new internal culture amongst staff which will be called up by the outcomes of Minneapolis. As mentioned, I believe in delegation and the opportunity to strengthen internal talent through greater responsibility.
At the level of public communications, major targets would centre around WTSC 2000. Ensuring full participation from the membership and engaging all stakeholders in the preparations for WTSC would be essential, and might require a carefully planned and targetted campaign of direct invitations as well as encouragement or placement of appropriate publicity in useful trade media in a range of languages. In particular, the opportunities for Sector Members and Participating Organisations, following the Minneapolis decisions, would need thorough promotion. Given the importance of establishing priorities for the next study period, this communication task should begin early in 1999 to ensure maximum credibility and participation for WTSC 2000.
On a more continuous basis, I would propose to seek innovative opportunities for promoting both the T-Sectors own standards products, and also, given the increasingly fragmented and diverse character of the telecommunications industry, a program devoted to ensuring awareness of the ITUs broad range of standards-related services, and its image as an efficient and responsive service organisation, is spread throughout all relevant industry groups.
What would be your top three priorities for the period up to the next Plenipotentiary Conference?
- A shared vision : the confidence and shared values of ITU staff who can make it happen, and take it to the world.
- Structural adjustment : within the mandate of Minneapolis, according to market priorities for a work program and recognised core competencies.
- Worlds best practice : pre-eminence comes at a price - excellence in working methods applied to right work.
Any other message you would like to communicate?
I hope this gives you at least an appreciation of my objectives in putting myself forward for this very challenging and critical job. Essentially, I believe I can make a difference, because of my past experience and associations. I have feelings for the structure and working relationships that need to be addressed, though we do not yet know what manifesto will be adopted at Minneapolis.
I can assure you, as a senior member of the Australian delegation to the Plenipotentiary Conference, that I and my delegation will be arguing strongly for the implementation and continuation of the kind of reform process that will deliver an ITU that is dynamic, responsive, and inclusive of its major stakeholders.
I am confident that we have a total membership which has good sense and would like to ensure the greatest future for the ITU through the decisions that are taken. If elected, it is my intention to then bring that manifesto to life and to the market.
The Telecommunication Standardization Bureau faces increasing pressure to respond to complex issues within short time frames, and needs to continually improve its capacity to serve the ITU membership.
I can bring to the position of Director, TSB, what I believe is a valuable combination of leadership and management skills, drawn from 27 years of experience in telecommunications engineering, management, and regulatory affairs.
I have actively contributed to ITU processes over several years, including four years as Chairman of the TSAG.
In Australia, I have had high-level responsibilities for structural and regulatory reform processes, as well as the administration and leadership of the major government organisation managing telecommunication standardization.
My experience includes extensive corporate and technical exposure within a leading network operator in the Asia Pacific region Telecom Australia in a research and management environment for 14 years, and then notably in the corporate environment for 4 years which included responsibility as Director of Industry Strategy, dealing with the manufacturing industry.
I believe that I am widely known throughout the active ITU community for my positive contributions over a long period, and if elected, I know that I can provide first-class, innovative leadership to the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, both internally and in its relationships with private and government sector constituents, and including the developing world.n
Produced by ITU Press & Public Information Service
English | Franšais | Espa˝ol