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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Govt must embrace enlightened policies – ICT Regulators

At the wake of broadband becoming the new baseline, the global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) regulators under the aegis of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has enjoined governments to engage in enlightened policies that could drive roll-out, innovation and affordable pricing.

A draft of the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) on the 2009 Best Practice Guidelines made available to ITRealms Online, weekend at the conference, highlighted the need for the government to take up policies that could engender cheaper broadband services.

A press statement endorsed by ITU Media Relations officer, Ms Sarah Parkes, and spokesman of the host, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Lebanon, Nathalie Boustany, indicated that delegates to ITU’s 9th GSR held between November 10 and12 deliberated on the pressing need for governments to open markets to greater competition and use incentives to stimulate investment in the broadband networks that are fast becoming the lifeblood of the knowledge economy.

The over 648 participants from 89 countries expressed resolve to forge a shared vision and understanding of the many challenges currently facing ICT regulators in increasingly complex converged markets.

ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Toure, was quoted as saying that GSR has been the most successful event, in terms of number of participants and the quality as well as relevance of the discussions at the event.

“This testifies to the critical role regulators are now playing in defining the future shape of markets characterized by fast-changing technologies and a rapidly evolving, increasingly complex competitive landscape,” he said.

“With the tough current economic climate prompting some operators to rein-in network development plans, the meeting placed special emphasis on the need for the public and private sectors to better understand one another’s needs and work more cooperatively to support demand for ICT services,’ Toure said

The ICT industry played a central role in the one-day Global Industry Leaders Forum (GILF), chaired by Dr. Saad Al Barrak, the chief executive of Zain Group, the forum encouraged frank, interactive discussion among participants representing operators, ICT manufacturers and application developers, service providers, infrastructure specialists and consultancies.

According to the press statement, those discussions went on to form the core of the GILF Chairman’s report, which was presented to the GSR at its opening session on Tuesday, November 10, for in-depth consideration by delegates representing the global ICT regulatory community.

GILF participants stressed the need for predictable, stable regulation, improved regional harmonization of regulatory frameworks, more efficient management of radiofrequency spectrum, and a ‘light touch’ by regulators to allow markets to evolve naturally.

Further, they advocated technology-neutral regulation, and urged regulators to make provision for the ongoing development of converged services by ensuring sufficient spectrum is available to support future growth.

ITU, which plays a critical role in global spectrum allocation through its Radiocommunication Sector, was asked to continue to work actively to help companies and governments alike create an enabling environment to support new services, cheaper pricing, and faster network roll-out to underserved areas.

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