Mr P. J. Thomas, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India, was elected Chairman of the Conference.
The Minister for Communications and Information Technology of the Government of India, Mr A. Raja welcomed delegates from around the world to Hyderabad at a time when the world happens to be witnessing a global information revolution. “ICTs can facilitate faster development of various social and economic sectors in any country,” Mr Raja said. “ICTs lead to equal opportunities for all mankind, especially perceptible improvement for the most vulnerable parts of society in rural and remote areas, contributing to the inclusive growth of society.” The Minister noted India’s impressive growth in the field of software development and in the applications of space technology which are aimed at “national development in areas like communication, broadcasting, distance education, earth exploration services, and space sciences”. Mr Raja added, “It is our cherished hope that increased general awareness among the masses created by the knowledge society would bring enhanced global peace, justice and respect for each other, which are the corner stones for the elimination of disparity and poverty worldwide.”
Hyderabad, capital of the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh, is an emerging hub for ICTs in the region. Participants from around the world have gathered here to promote international cooperation, regional initiatives and partnerships that can sustain and strengthen telecommunication and ICT infrastructure and institutions in developing countries.
“What we decide and define here over the next two weeks will shape not just the future of ICT development over the next four years, but the future shape of the very world we live in,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour. “It will change the way that social and economic development happens, and the way ICT development happens.”
The Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Sami Al Basheer said, “India is a remarkable place for ITU to hold the World Telecommunication Development Conference, not least because it is one of the world’s great ICT success stories but also because India has shown, in very concrete and dramatic terms, the power of ICTs to stimulate social and economic development.” He added that while each country has its own challenges to face, in the end we share the same overall goals. “We need to constantly innovate and keep up with dynamics in the market place,” said Al Basheer. “Looking forward, we need to invent better targeted and more positive regulation, focusing on incentives rather than obligations.” He proposed a new vision complemented with dedicated resources to deal with the issues of connectivity in least developed countries.
In his opening remarks the Conference Chairman, Mr P.J. Thomas said, “The world now acknowledges that technological progress and innovations are long term drivers of economic growth, especially in developing countries. As a key technology producer, ICT has contributed to a positive macroeconomic impact in GDP growth besides providing spillovers and externalities which are bringing enormous benefits for the economy. New services generated by ICT in the forms of e-commerce, e-finance, and e-governance are contributing towards greater economic efficiency while raising the living standard of citizens.”
Following the conclusion of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005, this year marks a crucial mid-term period to review the implementation of its objectives. The Hyderabad Action Plan, which will set the agenda for telecommunication and ICT development over the next four years, will be a key input to the overall review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the United Nations in New York next September.
The World Telecommunication Development Conference is convened every four years. Discussions at WTDC-10 will focus on:
- – Broadband connectivity
– Digital broadcasting
– Open source software
– E-accessibility for people with disabilities
– E-applications, including health
– Human capacity building
– Emergency communications
– ICT policy and regulation
Build on Broadband
One of the key initiatives at ITU is the delivery of equitable and affordable broadband access to the Internet in the push to achieve a knowledge-based information society and to help achieve the MDGs. While the growth of mobile connectivity has been phenomenal, with nearly 5 billion subscriptions expected by end-2010, broadband is recognized as the conveyor of content.
Noting that fixed broadband penetration rates in the developing world have almost tripled, and mobile broadband penetration rates have grown more than tenfold since the last WTDC in Doha in 2006, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour said, “Broadband will be absolutely critical for all nations in the coming decade. Broadband networks will change the way governments offer essential services from education and healthcare to transportation, water and energy. By delivering efficiencies across all of these areas, broadband networks can quickly pay for themselves, creating a virtuous circle of investment, productivity and human development.”
Sami Al Basheer added, “The global community needs to embrace and invest in a broadband-enabled future to support the next great wave of innovation, opportunity and development.”
Focusing on ICT for Development
The transition to digital broadcasting is also a key development in facilitating the dissemination of information and freeing up spectrum. This is an area that will be the focus of many communications experts gathered in Hyderabad.
Global challenges such as threats to cybersecurity and the effects of climate change will be addressed as well as the use of ICTs and emergency communications to mitigate the effects of natural disasters.
Connect a School, Connect a Community
A Ministerial Round Table on ITU’s ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ initiative, aimed at connecting all schools by 2015 will be held on 25 May at 17:30. ITU has identified and compiled best practices on policies, regulation, low cost computing devices and practical experiences in connecting schools, including establishing school-based community ICT centres. The Round Table will consider outcomes of the High Level Seminar that was held on Sunday, 23 May and focus on innovative measures to connect schools and communities.
Measuring the Information Society: World Telecommunication Development Report 2010
Also, on 25 May at 13:30, an information session will be held on ‘Measuring the Information Society’ ([email protected]). This event will highlight recent global and regional ICT developments based on ITU statistics and present the results of the latest ICT Development Index and ICT Price Basket. Participants will examine ITU’s work on ICT measurement, discuss challenges related to the data collection and dissemination and provide suggestions on how the availability and quality of the data can be improved.
This session will be preceded by a Press conference at 12:30 on the launch of the World Telecommunication Development Report 2010, which reviews progress towards the achievement of the targets of the World Summit on the Information Society.
A session on the ‘ITU Academy’ will demonstrate a new portal. The overall vision of ITU Academy is to strengthen the human, institutional and organizational capacity of developing countries by making available ICT learning and development opportunities at the highest possible levels of quality. The longer term goal is to promote ITU Academy as a web-based platform that allows for a single access point to all ITU training interventions, whether delivered face-to-face or through instructor-led or self-paced distance learning in areas such as business and management; policy and regulation; and technologies and services. The session will be held on 26 May at 13:00.
Trends in Policy and Regulatory Reform
A session on ‘Trends in Policy and Regulatory Reform’ will be held on 27 May at 13:00. This session will include an interactive presentation on the latest regulatory trends and innovative approaches in a converging ICT sector and will include a live demonstration on ITU’s unique regulatory online tools.
Spectrum Management and Digital Broadcasting
A session on ‘Spectrum Management and Digital Broadcasting’ will address the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. It will include a presentation of SMS4DC (Spectrum Management System for Developing Countries), a computer programme which provides assistance in the technical and regulatory procedures for managing the spectrum allocated to the Land Mobile, Fixed and Broadcasting services.
Push for e-Health
A session on ‘e-Health’ is aimed at enhancing countries’ capacity to develop or update national e-Health strategic plans to help shape an effective regulatory, governance and policy context for further e-Health development and investment. The session will be held on 28 May at 13:00.