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Top tech policy makers meet in Warsaw for world’s leading international regulatory gathering

by david.nunes

Top tech policy makers meet in Warsaw for world’s leading international regulatory gathering

How to ensure fair, competitive markets in face of an increasingly complex ICT landscape and growing dominance of big players?

Warsaw, 3 July, 2013 – More than 650 high-level international delegates from the world’s information and communication technology (ICT) regulatory authorities are gathering this week in Warsaw, Poland to discuss the challenges of fostering new business opportunities in infrastructure and service provision in an increasingly interdependent, interconnected , trans-border environment.

The world’s largest specialized gathering of ICT regulators and policy makers, ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) aims to stimulate debate, knowledge sharing and exchange of best practice among regulators, industry leaders, government policy analysts and other key ICT stakeholders.

Discussions will focus on how to ensure equal treatment of players and uptake of online services without stifling market growth through imposition of extra regulatory burdens on operators and service providers. The symposium will also look at the evolving role of ICT regulators as partners for economic development and social inclusion.

Chaired this year by Magdalena Gaj, President of the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) of Poland, this morning’s opening debate, Building the Future Digital Society, featured top-name speakers including Poland’s Minister of Administration and Digitization, Michal Boni; European Commission Vice-President, Neelie Kroes; Acting Chairwoman of the FCC, Mignon Clyburn; Director-General of the GSMA, Anne Bouverot; Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Facebook, Lord Richard Allen; Deputy CEO of Orange, Pierre Louette; and other key industry and government leaders. The debate was moderated by Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), which organizes the symposium every year as a service to ITU’s public and private sector members.

Taking place at the Warsaw Hilton hotel, the full three-day GSR programme spans a wide range of compelling issues, including spectrum policy and ‘white spaces’; financing strategies for fixed and mobile broadband rollout; digital transactions; IPv4 to IPv6 migration; new revenue schemes for online delivery of broadcasting content; national broadband interconnection charging; and the importance of industry-agreed technical standards.

Speaking to delegates at the GSR opening this morning, ITU’s Deputy-Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said the theme of this year’s event, ‘4th Generation Regulation: Driving Digital Communications Ahead’, throws the spotlight on the critical role of regulators worldwide in setting the right policy frameworks for growth.

“Effective ICT development depends on the right policy and regulatory environment being in place, and on effective regulation. At ITU – the leading UN agency for ICT issues – we place tremendous emphasis on the importance of establishing an enabling environment in furthering ICT development. This makes the GSR particularly important as a unique platform for the regulatory community,” he said.

In her opening address, GSR Chair Magdalena Gaj told delegates that telecommunication networks have become the lifeblood of the world economy. “None of us can imagine today’s work and daily life without a telephone, computer or the Internet access…We have come here from different continents. We represent different cultures, different backgrounds and value systems. But we have one thing in common – we all want permanent access to the Internet, because we are all confident that it guarantees development and a better life.”

This year’s symposium comes at a time of enormous transition for the ICT sector. New content and application providers, such as over-the-top players, are changing the rules of the game. At the same time, sharp increases in data flows resulting from the rapid development of new services and applications, such as cloud services, coupled with changing consumer behaviours that call for always-on, ubiquitous access to ICTs, are challenging the traditional role and mandate of the regulator, calling for a rethink of traditional approaches to regulation in a digital ecosystem.

“This year alone, IP traffic is expected to grow by around 14 exabytes per month, driven by the ever-growing number of connected people and connectable devices, and increasingly widespread consumer access to fixed and mobile broadband networks,” said BDT Director Brahima Sanou. “For regulators striving to create a level playing field and ensure non-discriminatory practices and transparency of market information, this period of transition to a truly transnational market for ICT services is creating a need for stronger cross-border, regional and international cooperation,” he said.

The GSR continues until Friday 5 July, culminating in a series of regulatory Best Practice Guidelines. Outputs from the meeting will also be incorporated into ITU’s annual regulatory report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform.

The essential voice of industry is brought in through the Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue (GRID), where both public and private sector participants have the chance to debate pressing challenges, such as how to best meet the new broadband goals now being set by a growing number of governments.

In addition, a special dedicated meeting of private sector Chief Regulatory Officers, held just prior to the opening of the GSR, facilitated discussion and information sharing among telecommunication service and technology companies, and helped frame debate during the symposium itself.

The afternoon of 2 July saw ITU host a special meeting of Regulatory Associations, which provided an opportunity for discussion, information exchange and bridge-building to promote better and more active cooperation between Regulatory Associations in different regions.

Leading industry association the GSMA also organized a pre-event seminar on the topic of “Setting realistic expectations for spectrum auctions” as part of the Pre-event Programme on July 2.

A series of Discussion Papers on key GSR issues is available here.

Background information, including speeches of the high-level participants and key global statistics on broadband, are available on the GSR-13 Newsroom at www.itu.int/net/newsroom/GSR/2013.

For more information, visit www.itu.int

About ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. For nearly 150 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. www.itu.int

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