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ITU wades into broadband battle

27 октября 2011

The ITU has put broadband at the centre of its World 2011 event in Geneva by launching a set of global targets and even a manifesto designed to propel governments to deliver on what it calls “a human need and a right”.

However, questions remain over how broadband will be delivered.

ITU secretary general Dr Hamadoun Touré was clear in concluding the opening press conference: “We want to avoid too much regulation and are advising our members not to over regulate,” he said.

It was a message that jarred with Russia’s minister for communications and mass media who, just 10 minutes earlier, had said there should be more international laws to help broadband growth.

Igor Shchegolev said international laws could come in the form of a global treaty or a code of conduct. He added that Russia and China had submitted a code of conduct to the ITU; given it has not been adopted we can assume it did not receive universal backing.

Dr Touré said he saw cyber security as the “real issue” that had to be dealt with by law and reiterated his desire for a global cyber peace treaty – an idea that was mooted last year.

Touré himself had endorsed a new set of broadband “targets” earlier in the day.

The targets, which have been put forward by the UN’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development in a document entitled “Broadband Challenge”, are fourfold. By 2015:

  • Every country should have a national broadband plan or strategy
  • Entry level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries
  • 40 percent of households in developing countries should have internet access
  • Internet penetration should reach 60 percent worldwide.

“These targets are ambitious but achievable, given the political will and commitment on the part of governments, working in partnership with the private sector,” said Dr Touré, who also serves as co-vice chair of the BCDD.

The ITU said it will undertake responsibility for measuring each country’s progress towards the targets, producing an annual broadband report with rankings of nations worldwide in terms of broadband policy, affordability and uptake.

Returning to the regulation theme, the BCDD urged governments to avoid limiting market entry and taxing ICT services unnecessarily. It said a review of legislative and regulatory frameworks was “essential” as many have been “inherited from the last century”.

These sentiments built on new ICT statistics, “The World in 2011”, also released at the event. They show that over a third of the world’s population are using the internet in 2011, up from 18 percent five years ago.

Forty five percent of those users are under the age of 25, the report added.

In addition, the report found that Europe leads the world in broadband connectivity with fixed and mobile broadband penetration reaching 26 percent and 54 percent respectively.

However, when it came to the crunch question of how broadband should be financed, answers were in short supply.

“We are sharing experiences here,” said Dr Touré. “Some countries, like Australia, have gone down the government route but everyone, including the private sector, has a role to play. There is no one-size-fits-all solution as every country is different.”

As the ITU itself looks to evolve to stay relevant in the fast-moving world of 21st century ICT, how the targets and pledges it has set out here are viewed and acted on by governments will be a test of its credentials.

Источник: European Communications

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