ITU Telecom World 2013 Forum kicks off conversations between government, UN agencies and industry

Date: Thu, 11/21/2013 - 19:06

ITU Telecom World 2013 Forum kicks off conversations between government, UN agencies and industry

Top players debate sector transformation, broadband revolution and driving connectivity worldwide

The urgent need for understanding and cooperation between governments and the ICT industry in the form of public private partnerships, renewed regulatory approaches and investment policies was the central message at the Forum Opening Conversation at ITU Telecom World 2013.
The debate, which set the scene for four days of discussion, workshops, showfloor activities and networking in Bangkok, touched on many of the key topics of the event: the pace and complexity of change in the ICT sector and in the world, including changing mobile and social technology, end user needs and demands, and operational processes; convergence across vertical sectors; and the position of the end user at the heart of the digital revolution. Underlying all this is the importance of driving broadband deployment – the engine for transformational change for the industry and for people around the world.
"We cannot limit ourselves to change in the industry – we need a broader perspective with the whole ecosystem in mind, other service providers, content providers, vertical industries, policy makers, regulators, vendors, suppliers, application developers and NGOs, even our competitors,” said Reza Jafari, reminding the audience that “ICT is inside everything that impacts our everyday life, every day, every minute and every second”. He urged sector stakeholders to actively participate in the transformation of not just the ICT sector, but other industries as well in a “manifestation of collaborative innovation”.
“The broadband revolution, the mobile revolution and the mobile broadband revolution are the backbones of our society, of every aspect of social and economic development throughout the world, connecting the unconnected and empowering the disenfranchised,” ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré reminded the audience of high level delegates drawn from across the industry and all corners of the world.
Several key steps to ensure that unconnected billions can reap the benefits of the digital world were outlined. Affordability, content, infrastructure investment and balanced regulation are critical. CEO of leading mobile operator Telenor Jon Frederik Baksaas said, “All stakeholders need to be involved in getting connectivity to happen. Regulators and governments must distribute spectrum fairly to enable service providers to invest in infrastructure; handsets must be affordable to drive the network effect; and then local content will play a tremendously important role as a driver for the utilization of capacities.”
John Davies, Executive Vice President of Intel's World Ahead Programme, highlighted the importance of moving to offer prepaid services to lower-income customers in driving connectivity in developing economies: “The business model which worked for the cell phone in voice will work for networks, encouraging vertical sector content in areas such as education and healthcare, allowing businesses to start up more easily and people to enjoy government services.”
CEO of Ooredoo Nasser Marafih outlined how his company's relationship with Telenor as fellow 3G licence holder in the new market of Myanmar could provide a blue print for driving connectivity in the future: the two companies will cooperate on investment in infrastructure and compete on service provision on the market side.
“Working together to share as much as possible on passive infrastructure will bring down costs, allowing us to develop both new and existing markets,” he said. “But knowing that broadband is the enabler for all other sectors, the role of government is crucial in the long-term in terms of allocation of spectrum, licencing fees and licence renewal.”
Stressing the role of public private partnerships in implementing digital deployment, Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap, Minister of ICT for Thailand and host of ITU Telecom World 2013, stated, “It is a win-win-win situation: public agencies obtain their policy objectives, private companies make a profit, and the biggest win goes to those who can enjoy broadband connectivity - the people.”
In an era of increasing convergence of services, ensuring a centralized approach within and across differing government agencies, balancing spectrum allocation equitably, and reinvesting licence windfalls into projects which stimulate the ICT sector are vital steps, the panellists concluded.

Above, image credited to ITU Telecom World 2013

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