Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

ITU addresses digital convergence

A Reform Advisory Panel, set up by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi, to advise on the future of the ITU, has recommended that the international organisation should become a public/private partnership to preserve and strengthen i...
A Reform Advisory Panel, set up by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi, to advise on the future of the ITU, has recommended that the international organisation should become a public/private partnership to preserve and strengthen its credibility.

Meeting for the first time at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the 27-member panel, comprising high-level government and industry representatives, stated the new ITU should reflect today's competitive telecommunications marketplace where the private sector takes the lead while regulators act as arbitrators for the wider public interest. Set up in 1865, the ITU is an international organisation within which governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services.

'Achieving the goal of transforming our organisation into one which we can serve the membership well in the changing telecommunications environment is our aim,' said Mr Utsumi.

The international importance of the ITU was also emphasised by the Panel. Marc Furrer, director of Swiss company OFCOM, argued in favour of ITU providing a global forum for regulators to meet and discuss issues of mutual concerns. He said that he could easily meet his counterparts in the European Union, but doing so in Asia was more difficult.

The Panel also recommended that the ITU act as a policy think-tank for collecting best-practice regulatory policies, and a centre for regulatory expertise. ITU's role in dispute settlement could also be expanded, as members considered the Union well placed to provide governments and the private sector with a neutral and effective mechanism to resolve international disputes.

ITU's role in Internet governance was high on the reform agenda. The Internet is branching into telecommunications, and it was questioned whether the Internet should continue to evolve without formal structure or government regulation as it has in the past.

In the Information Society, 'ITU is bound to have a role but it must dramatically change,' said Internet Society chief executive Donald Heath. However there was agreement that the ITU should not intervene on issues outside its core expertise such as content.

The Panel felt the management of the ITU should be left to the Secretary-General, whose remit should be increased to include greater responsibility for the operation of the Union. It was felt that a new process for the nomination and approval of senior officials needs to be put in place.

The Panel's recommendations will be submitted to the next meeting of the ITU working group on reform which meets in April. The EU is represented on the Panel by Director General of the Information Society DG Robert Verrue.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top