The following report was issued by WITSA in January 2013, following the conclusion of the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications last December. Please let us know what you think about the ITU’s latest event, the ratification of the new Treaty and the potential impact it will have on the ICT industry globally. Thanking you in advance for your participation!

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-2012), convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was held in Dubai last December (2012) with the aim of updating the 1988 International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) in the form of a new treaty.

At the conclusion of the Conference, a new Treaty was accepted by a simple majority (89) of member states , which voted to sign the Final Acts.

While we do not yet know how these 89 governments will implement the substance of the new treaty, there is considerable concern that the changes to the ITRs will shift the international regulatory approach from a focus on openness, bottom-up decision making and multi-stakeholder dialogue to greater government control and centralization.  The lack of consensus among governments further confuses the international regulatory situation inasmuch as global companies may face an uncertain regulatory environment based on the division between countries at WCIT-2012.

Ahead of this event, WITSA prepared a Statement of Policy on Internet Governance, which was endorsed by the WITSA General Assembly held in Montreal last October, and circulated to all members.  This policy supports current collaborative, multistakeholder Internet governance ecosystems, which provide a light touch and effective regulatory environment.  At the same time, WITSA recognized there is much to be done, especially in promoting the roll-out of infrastructure to support Internet services in emerging economies, and to strengthen enabling policy environments, as well as open standards processes.

There are many interpretations of the WCIT-2012 results, ranging from the demise of the ITU, on the one hand, to the Treaty outcome representing a “solid new framework for tomorrow’s hyper-connected world”, on the other.  As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

In WITSA’s view, the ITU has a clearly defined role with respect to the global communications environment.  This role, as outlined in Article 1 of the ITU Constitution, is focused on international cooperation to bring about global telecommunications connectivity, for which huge gaps still exist in developing nations.  For WITSA’s members, the importance of this work cannot be understated.  Efficient allocation of radio spectrum has helped to fuel the wireless revolution; consensus-based telecommunications standards underpin networks worldwide; and an enabling telecommunications regulatory environment that supports competition and innovation are all critical activities for the IT sector.  However, we also attach considerable importance to the multi-stakeholder activities and organizations across the ecosystem that work together to make the Internet successful.

The outcomes of WCIT-2012 underscore, more clearly than ever, the need for collaboration, open dialogue and real solutions rather than greater centralization and government control.  In line with the Montreal Declaration on Enabling Access for All , WITSA stands ready to support those goals and to engage actively on these issues.

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