Active public policy crucial for future of communications – UN conference

24 April 2009

To extend the benefits of the ‘Information Society’ to all, public policy in rapidly-evolving telecommunications technology must be shaped now, participants at a United Nations forum said today.

To extend the benefits of the ‘Information Society’ to all, public policy in rapidly-evolving telecommunications technology must be shaped now, participants at a United Nations forum said today.

Policies for interconnectivity, capacity-building and security are needed to boost the public good that could arise from next-generation networks (NGN) and advanced broadband access, according to the outcome of the Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF-09), which closed in Lisbon, Portugal, today.

The Forum, sponsored by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU), discussed policy and regulatory issues associated with the rapid advancement of information and communication technologies (ICT).

At the meeting’s close, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré noted that growing challenges are reshaping the telecommunications industry. “The Forum comes at a pivotal time that will define the future direction of ICTs,” he said.

“The Strategic Dialogue at the start of this Forum acknowledged the vital role of ICTs in leading the world out of crisis and kickstarting economic growth and recovery,” he added. “Now there is widespread recognition that ICTs will play a vital role in powering economic growth and creating jobs.”

During the three-day meeting, many speakers proposed that a ‘Digital Marshall Plan’ should extend broadband access to every corner of the planet, a call that was first made at the ITU Connect Africa Summit in Kigali in October 2007.

In its outcome document, the Forum agreed that it was crucial for ITU to continue to coordinate Internet-related public policy issues.

Participants also agreed that ITU should study the management of Internet resources, international Internet interconnection – particularly the areas of tariffs and accessibility – and help create a multilingual Internet to facilitate the diversity of online participation.

Governments around the world should also be assisted to carry out their policy and regulatory roles, according to the Forum’s outcome.

At the close of the meeting, five Magalhães laptop computers, designed and produced in Portugal, were awarded to young people who were judged to have brought “a new vision to ICT development,” according to ITU.

The award winners are: Zhassoulan Bayekeyev of Kazakhstan, Carlos Andrés Gomez Ruiz of Colombia, Samuel Hector Morgan of Jamaica, Eunice Lionnelle Sana-Aniamnossou of Benin and William Benjamin Towne of the United States.

Over 880 representatives of 126 Member States – including 40 ministers – attended the Forum, along with representatives of the private sector, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

 

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