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    ITU Tries To Send A Clearer Signal On Global Telecom Talks

    Published on 23 June 2012 @ 1:28 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The UN International Telecommunication Union is conducting constructive and potentially lucrative negotiations to update global telecommunications regulations, but the message keeps getting garbled in public fora, ITU officials said.

    ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré led a special press briefing on 22 June http://www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/newsroom.aspx and called it “an opportunity to set the record straight” after blogs and news articles have mischaracterised the talks.

    At issue is an update of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to be held in December in Dubai.

    Part of the problem with reporting accuracy might be that the WCIT documents are confidential. But even people who have had access to the WCIT documents have purposely mischaracterised them in ways that could be seen as credible by the public, he said. ITU officials later declined to specify what the mischaracterisations have been.

    Touré said the WCIT will be a “catalyst” for the free flow of information. A question being asked is how best can the ITRs be adapted toward to goal of every person benefiting from information and communications technologies.

    There appears to be agreement on the adoption of high level principles that will help with this, he said.

    Another area in which the WCIT can help is with the risk of shortfall in infrastructure investment, he said.

    Touré said the 1988 Melbourne conference that set the ITRs created a framework that enabled the “spectacular” growth of telecommunications since then, and he hopes for a similar boost this time.

    The Melbourne conference “set the stage for the information society,” he said, and the 2012 conference “will set the stage for the knowledge society.”

    The WCIT is an opportunity to create a stable international framework to “allow the market to flourish,” he said.

    Touré spoke after the meeting of a preparatory working group for the WCIT.

    Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU Standardization Bureau, said this was the eighth and final working group meeting, and it produced an outcome document that is a composition of proposals for a new treaty.

    The subject of proposals include international roaming, security, combatting spam, and misuse of the telephone numbering system, along with new proposals introduced this week such as climate change and energy efficiency standards, e-waste, and ensuring telecom services are accessible to people with disabilities.

    The document will be made available to the ITU membership and serve as the basis for the proposals in Dubai in December, Johnson said.

    There has been a series of regional meetings, which will continue. Each of the six ITU regions will have a set of proposals. No proposals are agreed yet.

    Richard Hill of the WCIT secretariat said the ITRs establish international principles for telecom provision and operation, and that there is a need to revise them. For instance, in 1988, liberalisation and privatisation of telecoms was just starting, and most were still government-owned monopolies. The ITRs have been instrumental in the privatisation that took place, he said. Also since that time there has been a shift from fixed to mobile and voice to data, he said.

    Up to now, there are some 124 input documents from member countries, most substantive, Hill said. Proposals can be loosely grouped into categories such as: the human right to access communication; international frameworks; interconnection and interoperability; convergence; security in the use of ICTs; protection of critical national resources; charging and accounting – including taxation; quality of service; and enforcement measures.

    There are proposals on misuse and on things like the transparency of routing. It was pointed out that national authorities would be responsible for implementation of the agreed proposals. On roaming, the proposal is that national authorities should look at rates and make sure they are appropriate.

    Touré said the goal is to come up with “very light touch” regulations aimed at encouraging competition and innovation, bringing down costs, addressing security and privacy issues, interconnection, and the lowest possible tax rates and no double taxation.

    The WCIT presents a key opportunity to increase the positive collaboration between countries, he said. It can help countries reach new levels of economic and social development by means of efficient ICT services, and can make the ITRs relevant and valuable to the full ITU membership, so that they address and alleviate many current concerns.

    He said the current level of friction between countries is something the ITU has seen many times before and always navigated successfully. For instance, it weathered two World Wars. “From friction comes light,” Touré said.

    The outcome document will be something all sides can agree on, he said. For now, however, most articles in the draft outcome document have alternative proposals to be worked out.

    The ITU Council will meet from 4-13 July.

    Touré repeated several remarks made earlier this week, such as his call for the Council to decide to make all documents public (IPW, Information and Communications Technology, 20 June 2012).

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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