Acknowledging the far-reaching importance of ICTs in extending the benefits of the Information Society for all, participants expressed consensus on a number of opinions:
- Internet-related public policy matters
- The advent of next-generation networks (NGN) and advanced broadband access, which will enable unfettered high-speed access aimed at consistent and ubiquitous services
- ICTs and the environment to address global climate change
- Collaborative strategies to create confidence and security in the use of ICTs
- Capacity building to support the adoption of IPv6, an Internet protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched network
- International telecommunication regulations (ITRs), which facilitate global interconnection and interoperability for telecommunications worldwide
The Forum agreed that ITU should continue playing its role in facilitating the coordination of Internet-related public policy issues and study the management of Internet resources, international Internet interconnection (e.g., tariffs and accessibility), and a multilingual Internet to facilitate the diversity of online participation. An enabling environment should be developed and promoted to allow governments to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and in ensuring its stability, security and continuity, although not in the day-to-day technical and operational matters.
Participants expressed the view that convergence and universal broadband access associated with NGNs are complex endeavours requiring a global approach. Recognizing that government policy should promote and enable the advancement of affordable and secure NGN infrastructure development, Member States were asked to consider developing an appropriate regulatory regime to encourage competition, based on sharing and open access models, for broadband and NGN deployment.
ITU Sector Members were also encouraged to consider ambitious deployment plans for broadband access and NGNs. The role of the ICT industry as “intelligent intermediaries” was advocated to develop interoperable NGN infrastructures, which would conform to open standards and offer high-quality, secure services to improve end-user experience.
Reshaping the ICT industry
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour noted that growing challenges are reshaping the telecommunications industry. “The Forum comes at a pivotal time that will define the future direction of ICTs,” Dr Tour 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. Repeated calls were made for a ‘Digital Marshall Plan’, a call that was first made at the ITU Connect Africa Summit in Kigali in October 2007. Now there is widespread recognition that ICTs will play a vital role in powering economic growth and creating jobs.” Speakers at the Strategic Dialogue stressed that the digital Marshall Plan should extend broadband access to every corner of the planet.
Mr Mrio Lino, Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications of Portugal emphasized the importance of ICTs in promoting the growth of the Information Society. He drew attention to the initiatives of the Portuguese government to promote the use of ICTs in extending access to the Information Society, but pointed to challenges in the implementation of NGNs.
Ms Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media of the European Union, drew attention to the technological revolution brought about by convergence and NGNs. “These two technological revolutions bring together multiple devices and services to compete on a common IP-based level playing field, where service delivery is no longer tied to a single physical transmission platform,” Ms Reding said. “More service providers can compete with established network operators to offer end-users, at a higher speed, multiple combinations of data, voice and video services. This is the future. This development will boost competition and is a great step forward for consumers’ choice and ultimately consumers’ welfare.” She added that policy makers must be prepared to ensure that “the gains from high speed connectivity delivered over NGNs are not put at risk”.
Earlier, Mr Mathias Kurth of the European Regulators Group presented the outcomes of the Strategic Dialogue on “Confronting the Crisis” to the opening session of the Forum. The brainstorming Dialogue sessions focused on the financial crisis facing the ICT sector, taking a look at how investment and financing in ICT can make a difference as well as the experience of industry in formulating strategies to overcome it.
New initiatives announced
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour announced two new ITU initiatives in cooperation with the Government of Portugal:
- An annual award to promote the development of a mobile Information Society in the areas of m-learning, m-government and m-development
- An international e-school project within ITU’s Connect the World framework that would include the dissemination of laptops to children in developing countries
WTPF-09 video contest winners
The ITU video contest for youth focused on bringing a new vision to ICT development. Five winners came to Lisbon to attend WTPF-09 and were awarded with the Magalhes laptop computer, designed and produced in Portugal. The award winners are: Zhassoulan Bayekeyev (Kazakhstan), Carlos Andrs Gomez Ruiz, (Colombia), Samuel Hector Morgan (Jamaica), Eunice Lionnelle Sana-Aniamnossou (Benin), and William Benjamin Towne (United States).