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Thursday, February 08, 2007

ITU, GSMA sign MoU to advance mobile access

Worldwide telecommunications regulator, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance mobile access in the least developed countries and developing countries.

The signing, which held at the 7th ITU organised Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) in Dubai, Tuesday, was endorsed by the Secretary-General, ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, and Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs officer of the GSMA, Mr Tom Phillips.

They said that the accord would strengthen cooperation towards improved access to mobile phone services aimed specifically at bridging the digital divide in both least developed and developing nations.

A press statement authorized by the Head, Corporate Communication at ITU, Francine Lambert, and Mark Smith of GSMA, which was made available to our correspondent, said the agreement focuses on fostering the development of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in least developed and developing countries.

It was gathered that the deal was driven by the overall objective of implementing the action lines of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005, as well as the World Telecommunication Development conference, held in Doha 2006.

Speaking after the signing ceremony in Dubai, Dr. Touré said he was pleased with the development and looks forward to future collaboration between ITU and GSMA in developing wireless access to connect the unconnected globally.

"ITU is the leading United Nations agency specializing in ICT-related issues and represents a global forum for its 191 Member States and over 600 Sector members. GSMA represents a strong voice of the mobile industry and they are making real contributions towards increasing worldwide mobile penetration, including access in rural and underserved areas of the world," he said.

Also speaking, Mr. Phillips of GSMA, said, the organisation recognised the value of government policies that support private investment, as he expects that through this new relationship, operators would create a means of overcoming some evolution hiccups to pave way for new investment in telecommunications globally.

“Operators hope to create a dialogue that will cut through today’s hurdles and bottlenecks, creating new investment opportunities and integrating our members’ commercial agenda closely with that of government," he said.

The MoU would concentrate on three key areas, namely supporting developing market projects for low cost access to ICT in underserved areas, industry and government cooperation and global industry benchmarking.

Recently, it would be recalled that GSMA established a Developmental Fund to invest in sustainable projects that seek to extend access to and the value of mobile services in the developing world.

GSMA noted that by riding on these efforts in the context of ITU’s Connect the World initiative, attention will focus on identifying ICT development projects where the contributions of industry and governments can be leveraged to "connect the unconnected," particularly through low-cost solutions as well as the innovative use of mobile technology and connectivity in least developed and developing countries.

On the industry and government cooperation, the MoU tends to facilitate closer dialogue between industry and governments by building partnerships aimed at solving problems and facilitating future planning and investment, with special emphasis on developing an enabling policy and regulatory environment in addition to innovative approaches for the use of universal service funds to expand access to ICTs in rural and remote communities.

Just as the global industry benchmarking would be based on coordinating, enhancing research and statistical databases with a view to improving decision-making by compiling comprehensive shared resource of key industry performance indicators and benchmarks.

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