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 India hosts global telecommunication and ICT event in Hyderabad

Hyderabad|India|June'2010: The fifth World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10), which met from 24 May until 4 June at the Novotel Hotel International Convention Centre in Hyderabad, India, attracted 924 participants, including 758 government delegates from 138 countries and 6 representatives from Palestine; 88 public and private sector representatives from 28 companies; 16 representing telecommunication-related entities from 7 countries; and 56 representatives from 25 regional and international organizations. In addition, 240 media covered WTDC-10 onsite.

Mr P.J. Thomas, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India, was elected Chairman of the Conference. He said, “The increasing role of ICT in the life of the common man cannot be overemphasized. Keeping in view the latest technological developments in ICT, the Hyderabad declaration adopted by WTDC-10 will play a decisive role in the development of the ICT sector across the world, especially in developing countries.”

Policy-makers and regulators pledged to promote affordable access to telecommunications and ICTs aimed at fostering sustainable development worldwide, with attention given to least developed countries (LDCs) and countries with special needs. New opportunities arising from the widespread use of ICTs were also cited in improving e-government services such as healthcare and education and to step up the drive to alleviate poverty and create jobs, especially among poor and marginalized populations, including women, children, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.

The Hyderabad Action Plan consists of a comprehensive package that will promote the equitable and sustainable development of telecommunication and ICT networks and services worldwide. The five Programmes identified are:

  1. Information and communication infrastructure and technology development
  2. Cybersecurity, ICT applications and IP-based network-related issues
  3. Enabling environment
  4. Capacity-building and digital inclusion
  5. Least developed countries, countries in special need, emergency telecommunications and adaptation to climate change

“Mobile telephony has grown phenomenally, and as we approach the 5 billion mark for mobile subscriptions later this year, it is considered to be the most rapidly adopted technology in history,” ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré said as he addressed the closing session of WTDC-10. “Yet, the digital divide remains — particularly where accessibility to broadband services and the Internet is concerned. This broadband divide must be addressed by governments and industry as a priority if we are to fully utilize the capacity of ICTs to meet the Millennium Development Goals.” Dr Touré earlier this year launched the Build on Broadband initiative aimed at ensuring that at least half the world’s population will have online access by 2015.

The delivery of equitable and affordable broadband access to the Internet is a key ITU initiative aimed at achieving a knowledge-based information society and to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Several high-level speakers from around the world speaking at the opening of WTDC-10 endorsed the push for the accelerated roll out of broadband. Dr Hessa Al Jaber, Secretary-General, Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) and Chairman of the 2006 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) in Doha, Qatar said, “We are committed to building a ubiquitous high speed broadband network. The purpose is not only to prepare us for competition in today’s global economy, but also to ensure efficient delivery of online health care, education, and government services for our citizens. The availability of affordable, fast and reliable connectivity is also an important enabler to stimulating investment in new businesses.”

WTDC-10 sets the pace for ICT development

“With a true spirit of collaboration among Member States, this landmark conference has achieved consensus in many important areas,” said Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “The decisions we have reached here in Hyderabad have provided a compelling vision and plan of action for the next four years, in addition to laying the groundwork for ICT development across the world for many years to come.”

The WTDC-10 Hyderabad Action Plan is the culmination of a series of regional preparatory meetings that took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (for Asia-Pacific); Kampala, Uganda (Africa); Santa Marta, Colombia (Americas); Minsk, Belarus (CIS); Andorra La Vella (Europe); and Damascus, Syria (Arab States). The preparatory meetings outlined initiatives from each region based on agreed categories among all stakeholders and region-specific priorities, such as:

  • Development of broadband infrastructure
  • Transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and management of spectrum
  • Harmonizing policy and regulatory frameworks to foster an enabling environment
  • Reduction of Internet access costs
  • Human and institutional capacity building
  • Strengthening cybersecurity and building confidence in the use of ICTs
  • Emergency telecommunications
  • ICTs as a solution to combat climate change
  • ICT applications for economic and social development, such as e-Health
  • Improving regional interconnectivity
  • Achieving universal access

Strategic Plan Outlined for Four-Year Cycle

ITU’s strategic plan for telecommunication/ICT development takes into account the twenty-eight regional initiatives and focuses on the changes brought on by the advent of high-speed telecommunication networks, increased convergence in applications and services, instant access to information and knowledge and the fact that the coming years are expected to see more rapid advances in the use of mobile technologies as a platform for further innovation.

Transition to digital broadcasting

The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting is also a key development in facilitating the dissemination of information and freeing up spectrum. New telecommunication and ICT services, including satellite radiocommunications will help connect rural and isolated communities and meet the needs of indigenous communities. While satellite digital sound and television broadcasting services have been introduced worldwide, terrestrial digital television and sound broadcasting is becoming a global priority. Wireless broadband networks and next-generation networks (NGN) foster the widespread use of affordable and accessible telecommunications and ICTs. The strategic plan will give high priority to assist administrators, regulators, broadcasters and other stakeholders in introducing digital broadcasting and providing assistance to developing countries on spectrum management.

Strengthening cybersecurity

By advocating best practices in establishing regulatory and legal frameworks that promote competition, and encourage investment, policy-makers expect that such reforms will lead to widespread access to telecommunications and ICTs. However, with the growing use of ICT applications, the popularity of social networks, and the emergence of the ‘Internet of Things’, which provide innovative and useful services for users, the challenge arises of building confidence and maintaining privacy and trust in the reliability and security of telecommunications and ICTs. ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda, taking into account the global and transnational nature of cyberthreats, addresses international coordination and cooperation to build confidence in the use of ICTs.

WTDC adopted measures to help developing countries tackle the challenge of cybersecurity which has become all the more pressing with the advent of broadband connectivity. Studies will be conducted on strengthening the cybersecurity of developing countries, particularly in areas related to telecommunication/ICT use and the protection of children and youth in cyberspace. ITU was asked to work towards a possible memorandum of understanding (MoU) among Member States to strengthen cybersecurity and combat cyberthreats.

Internet resources

Open and equitable access to critical Internet resources (CIRs) and issues pertaining to Internet-related public policy, including Internet governance, are key issues for ITU’s 191 Member States as the migration to IP-based networks increases. Along with facilitating a dialogue on international public policy issues related to the Internet, ITU will also assist developing countries migrate from IPv4 to IPv6 next-generation networks so that all countries can benefit from broadband infrastructure needed to support advanced e-applications for health, education, government and commerce.

Green ICTs

Telecommunications and ICTs provide some of the solutions in combating climate change, which is one of the greatest challenges facing the global community. While contributing to monitoring climate change and mitigating and adapting to its adverse effects, ‘Green ICTs’ and environment friendly technologies help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The consequences of climate change and sea-level rise are of particular concern to least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS).

Emergency telecommunications

Telecommunications and ICTs also play a critical role in disaster detection, early warning, preparedness, response and recovery. The Hyderabad Declaration calls upon Administrations to support policies and strategies that facilitate the use of telecommunications/ICTs for disaster management, in particular radiocommunications. ICTs can save lives and help reduce the impact of natural disasters that could impede sustainable development. ITU has played a critical role in restoring telecommunications in disaster-hit areas around the world and was one of the early responders in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti earlier this year.

ICTs to achieve broader development goals

WTDC-10 Hyderabad hosted a series of events to bring attention to the catalytic role that ICTs play in achieving broader development goals.

  • A session on ‘e-Health’ aimed at enhancing countries’ capacity to develop or update national e-Health strategic plans.
  • The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting was addressed as were trends in policy and regulatory reform.
  • ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report 2010 was launched on 25 May, providing a mid-term review of the progress made in creating a global information society by 2015.
  • ICT Ministers and senior officials from several countries around the world participated in a round table session dedicated to ITU’s flagship initiative, ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ aimed at providing broadband access to schools.
  • A session on the ‘ITU Academy’ demonstrated a new portal that makes available ICT learning and development opportunities at the highest possible levels of quality.

Following the ministerial round table on Connect a School, Connect a Community and the session on ITU Academy, several commitments of support were forthcoming.

June'' 2010

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