|Issue:||Latin America IV 1999|
|Topic:||The Pacific Hemisphere: The future of telecommunications|
|Title:||External Affairs Manager|
|Organisation:||Pacific Telecommunications Council, USA|
The Pacific hemisphere includes North, Central and South America, Asia and the Pacific Basin. Almost two thirds of the earth’s population and resources are concentrated in this region, which is the fastest growing telecommunications market in the world. The Pacific Telecommunications Council, and its 650 members, is focusing evermore on the convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, multimedia, the Internet and Internet services. New technology, its applications and regulatory issues are among the PTC’s major concerns. The PTC’s annual conferences, regular meetings and publications help members keep abreast of regional issues and interact to develop projects of mutual interest. In Latin America, the telecommunications industry has, traditionally, only looked for opportunities within the region; Latin America ought to also remember that it is part of the Pacific community.
The Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) is unique among the world’s telecommunication organisations. Founded in Honolulu in 1980, the PTC has had steady growth and now encompasses more than 650 members, worldwide. With its headquarters in the centre of the Pacific, it is only natural that the PTC should serve as the focal point for the convergence industries of telecommunications, broadcasting and information services in what is defined as the Pacific Hemisphere, a region that includes North, Central and South America, Asia and the Pacific Basin (Figure 1). Some two-thirds of Earth’s population and resources reside in this area, and no region is growing more rapidly, especially in telecommunication facilities, services and Internet. PTC’s members are found on all continents with a substantial majority in the Pacific Hemisphere. Information exchange is an important activity among PTC members, who collectively have access to key data on present and future activities in the convergence industries. PTC member 3rd Wave Communication (Australia) has demonstrated the significance of the present market and provides statistics projecting growth into the next century. These figures show the near-term growth potential only in the Asian part of the Pacific Hemisphere. In addition to the enormous existing growth market in North America, the region includes the rapidly expanding economies of Central and South America. Altogether, they comprise a huge and growing market for telecommunications. Hot topics Among the most frequently treated topics at PTC’99 (Honolulu, January 1999) were personal communications and other types of mobile telecommunications, including mobile satellite services. Such systems are as important to developing regions as they are in the advanced countries. For the first time, it will be possible to provide essential communication services to any place in the world, interconnected with the public switched telecommunication network (PSTN). The focus of FTC’s annual conference has increasingly shifted to the convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, multimedia, information systems and personal computing. Information technology, the Internet and Internet Services were treated substantively in more sessions in PTC’99 than any other topic, whereas neither of these even appeared in the annual conference index in 1993. Some traditional telecommunication topics, such as network architectures, which are also vitally important in the convergence industries, continue to receive high exposure. Regulatory and policy issues, satellite applications and advanced satellite communications, VSATs, submarine and other fibre optic cable systems also received a lot of attention at this year’s conference. New ways of treating some traditionally important topics, such as distance education/learning and disaster/emergency communications also received considerable attention, e.g. the virtual university/classroom and the use of satellite-based PCS for disaster communications. PTC – bringing together The Pacific Telecommunications Council brings together continents, people, telecommunications, broadcasting and informatics. FTC was among the first to recognize that the future of the convergence industries is in the Pacific Hemisphere. FTC is an international non-profit, non-governmental membership organization with global membership and headquarters in Honolulu. Through FTC, service providers, users of telecommunication services, policymakers, technologists, lawyers, scientists, engineers and other academics come together in a single forum – one that is open to all who share an interest in the development and beneficial use of telecommunications and related disciplines in the Pacific Hemisphere. The convivial, informal atmosphere of the FTC is especially conducive to solving intractable issues and establishing lucrative business relationships. Objectives The Council’s objectives are to: Ÿ provide a forum for discussion and the interchange of information, ideas and the expression of views regarding telecommunications in the Pacific for a multi-faceted diverse body that includes users, planners and providers of equipment and services; Ÿ promote the general awareness of the varied telecommunication requirements of the Pacific area; Ÿ organize conferences and seminars to promote the free flow and interchange of the varied views and requirements of the Pacific area and to address specific issues in telecommunications to assist in solving short-term and future issues; Ÿ communicate viewpoints and recommendations of the Council to the established national, regional and international organizations responsible for policies in telecommunications. Organization The Council is governed by a Board of Trustees, the members of which are elected by the members from those organisational and individual members with a history of intensive participation, either in terms of time or contributions. The functioning of the Council is supervised by an Executive Board that is elected from the members of the Board of Trustees. Day-to-day operations are carried out by the full-time Executive Director appointed by the Executive Board and a small secretariat located in Honolulu. Benefits PTC’s worldwide members enjoy the benefits of their involvement. The largest attraction is the annual conference in Honolulu – the most important networking event in the region. In addition to contacts made in the corridors, the plenary sessions and the presentation of papers, the conference boasts several special features: workshops, round tables, topic tables, special panels and exhibits. A permanent record of the proceedings is given to all participants when they register, in the form of a CD-ROM. Numerous social events and receptions provide ample opportunities to meet with colleagues, business associates and friends. Although the main feature of PTC’s annual conference has traditionally been the concurrent sessions on major convergence industry topics, the small associated exhibition has been gaining in importance. A major step forward occurred in January 1998, when the annual conference moved to the Hilton Hawaiian Village at Waikiki in Honolulu. Exhibition facilities have been expanded, thereby helping to shorten or eliminate the waiting list of potential exhibitors. In addition to the annual conference, PTC members can take advantage of other meeting opportunities throughout the year. A mid-year business meeting and associated seminar are held each year at a different locale, at the invitation of a PTC member. In 1999, the mid-year meeting was held in Manila, one of the many exhibitors at PTC’s annual conferences. On-line and print publications Council publications are valued benefits of PTC membership. The quarterly PTR® (Pacific Telecommunications Review) has gained a reputation for excellence and the annual conference Proceedings are rapidly becoming even more popular in CD-ROM format than as hard copies. Services to members were greatly enhanced with the establishment of the PTC’s World Wide Web service during PTC’95. The PTC secretariat offers worldwide Internet access to the PTC Web, showcasing the PTC to more than 150 million Internet users, worldwide, and facilitating communication between the secretariat and PTC members. Other Activities Associated activities, such as the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA), formed during PTC’97, provide valuable services to members in specific areas. Affiliated Chapters in Japan, India and Korea provide a bridge to members in those countries. Members’ Privileges In addition to being part of a vital and growing organization, FTC members hold voting rights in the annual meeting and receive invitations to attend all Council-sponsored activities. There are significantly-reduced members’ rates for FTC conferences and publications. Members receive regularly the FTC Members’ Bulletin, the quarterly PTR® and information on the availability of various reports and studies. Conclusion The Council offers five membership categories: for profit entities, non-profit entities, individuals, students and affiliates, with different annual dues for each of these and within the “for profit” and “non profit” categories. The individual, student and affiliate categories require certain proofs for eligibility. The FTC membership year is from February 1, through January 31. New members are billed for a full year of membership upon joining. Registration can be done on-line on the FTC Web site, or full information can be obtained from the External Affairs Manager.