Nº 5 2013 > Highlights from WPTF‑13 Opinions
Fostering an enabling environment for broadband connectivity
What can broadband deliver?
Broadband has become critical infrastructure, determining countries’ national competitiveness in the global digital economy. It is also a tool for advancing our common goal towards inclusive knowledge societies, where access to information and human creativity are vital.
A new networked world is being built, based on converged next-generation networks, but embracing concepts of embedded ambient intelligence, automated machine-to-machine traffic and the Internet of Things. Users will enjoy high-speed connectivity on the move, roaming seamlessly between networks wherever they go — anywhere, anytime, via any device.
WTPF‑13 Opinion 2
Opinion 2 on “Fostering an enabling environment for the greater growth and development of broadband connectivity” should help accelerate the social and economic progress of countries and the well-being of their citizens. The Opinion was endorsed by the World Telecommunication and Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum (WTPF‑13), held in Geneva on 14–16 May 2013. It was first discussed in Working Group 1 of the Policy Forum, along with contributions from Australia, the United States, Turkey, the Internet Society (ISOC), Avanti and the Global VSAT Forum (GVF). Presenting their contributions, Australia, the United States, and ISOC expressed support for Opinion 2 as drafted by the WTPF‑13 Informal Experts Group.
Turkey’s contribution proposed that WTPF‑13 should invite Member States, Sector Members and all interested stakeholders to continue to work, as appropriate, in the activities of ITU, and in all “relevant” international, regional and national forums in regard to broadband connectivity. A number of countries expressed support for the amendment proposed by Turkey, which they saw as improving the text.
Avanti and GVF proposed a number of changes to reflect a technology-neutral approach to the establishment of broadband networks. They considered that technologies should include terrestrial fixed, terrestrial mobile, as well as satellite broadband, to enable the provision of broadband services, in particular in unserved and under-served areas.
Senegal requested that the valuable work of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau be acknowledged, and that the Best Practice Guidelines from the Global Symposium for Regulators of 2009 and 2011 be noted.
Ghana said that the establishment of a universal service programme should “spur demand for” — rather than simply be “supporting” — telecommunication infrastructure investment. In Ghana’s view, such an amendment would better reflect the balance between the demand and supply sides in the broadband ecosystem.
In a spirit of compromise, Avanti, Senegal and Ghana all agreed that their amendments should be reflected in the WTPF‑13 Chairman’s report, rather than in the Opinion itself.
Rationale for Opinion 2
There is a body of evidence of the role of broadband as a vital enabler to accelerate progress towards attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed sustainable development targets. Opinion 2 cites the following three major reports from the ITU and UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development:
- “A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband” calls for broadband-friendly practices and policies towards the attainment of internationally agreed development goals.
- “Broadband: A Platform for Progress” describes the importance of competition in promoting investment.
- “The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All” provides policy recommendations encouraging broadband infrastructure development.
Gist of Opinion 2
WTPF‑13 took the view that Member States, Sector Members and other interested stakeholders should make every effort to foster an enabling environment for the greater growth and development of broadband connectivity.
Member States should promote widespread affordable access to telecommunication infrastructure by creating enabling legal and regulatory environments. They should do so by developing policies that are fair, transparent, stable, predictable and non-discriminatory, and that promote competition, foster continued technological and service innovation, and encourage private sector investment incentives. This will involve reviewing current regulatory frameworks with a view to adopting a competition-oriented approach to Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks in order to achieve clearly defined public goals, mainly taking into account the concept of technology neutrality.
Member States, Sector Members and all interested stakeholders should continue to share best practices regarding the implementation of progressive regulatory regimes designed to liberalize markets, promote competition and stimulate investment. As appropriate, this sharing of best practices will take place during work in the activities of ITU, and in all relevant international, regional and national forums considering the subject of broadband connectivity.
Finally, WTPF‑13 requested the Secretary-General to ensure the effective implementation of relevant ITU programmes and activities, including the WSIS outcomes, by promoting and strengthening cooperation in the development of broadband connectivity.