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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Telephone subscribers worldwide hit 4bn – ITU

Telephone subscriber base worldwide has hit an estimated four (4) billion, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the global telecommunications regulator.

ITU, which is a lead-agency of the United Nations (UN), gave this insight, yesterday, Tuesday in Geneva, while unveiled its 8th report on ‘Trends in Telecommunication Reform - the Road to the Next Generation Network (NGN)’ said that this figure cuts across mobile and fixed line subscribers, just as the Internet users have growth to over 1 billion at the end of last year, 2006.

This is coming as ITU said it has a strong financial footing to embark on charting a strategic plan to fulfil its mission of connecting the world, achieving the 2015 connectivity targets and fast-tracking the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Disclosing this at a media session to mark the conclusion of the ITU Council of Ministers meeting, the ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, said that next-generation networks globally would herald the growth in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

The 8th edition of the report, ITU said, aims at enabling regulators and policy-makers in developing countries to better understand the changes transforming the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector so they could evolve their policy and regulatory frameworks to leverage today’s technological and market developments.

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, informed that NGN, which offers the opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog several generations of technology, would herald the shift from a “one network, one service” approach to the delivery of many services over a single network as well as the convergence of services and applications on both fixed and mobile platforms.

“This next-generation architecture will help leverage new technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of market entry, increase flexibility and seamlessly accommodate in a single multi-service network both voice and data,” he declared.

Equally speaking on the forthcoming Connect Africa Summit to be held in Kigali, ITU official said its aimed at connecting all of Africa to the benefits of ICT, noting, however, investment in ICT infrastructure on the continent has improved dramatically in recent years, hence, a Marshall Plan for ICT infrastructure development is needed to mobilize the world’s human, financial and technical resources to connect everyone in the region.

Meanwhile, ministers from 17 countries attended the ITU Council meeting, including those of Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Ghana, Italy, Pakistan, Philippines, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia and Ukraine.

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