Enabling Environment, Capacity Building, Digital Inclusivity: Understanding Impacts on the Internet
by Seth Johnson
- None of the materials framing the World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) provide a basis to recognize when the policies or technological solutions promoted as part of WSIS will affect the Internet. This basic oversight has critical implications as the World Telecommunications Development Conference (WTDC) approaches in early 2014. The implications relate not just to impacts on the Internet, but to impacts on developing countries, and on the objectives of the WSIS itself.
- The following is an analysis of the 2010 WTDC Resolutions to identify where they need to be adapted to enable recognition of how the WSIS project will impact the Internet. It is organized based on the framework of Study Groups and Programmes for the work of ITU-D outlined in the Hyderabad Action Plan, issued at the 2010 WTDC.
- We preface our commentary by first providing a description of the distinctions between the terms Internet, IP-based Networks and Next-generation Networks (NGNs), and then noting the important role of a number of 2010 Plenipotentiary Resolutions that are shaping the ITU’s WSIS activities.
IP-Based Networks, the Internet and Next-Generation Networks IP-Based Networks, the Internet and Next-Generation Networks
- Not all IP-based Networks represent Internet connectivity. The Internet Protocol enables interoperability between independent networks by transmitting IP packets in a way that allows the broadest flexibility in communications patterns to be supported. Among networks interoperating in this way, end users can expect that they will be able to connect to end users on other networks in a way that will support the broad diversity of applications that they may discover or create online. Networks throughout the world that have so chosen are part of a global network of networks that can be called “the Internet.”
- The Internet empowers independent network providers to enter the communications arena and offer their users global connectivity, knowing that they can readily interoperate with other networks; and it empowers end users by providing them this global connectivity via a maximally flexible platform.
- An individual network that uses the Internet Protocol among its own routers can be called an “IP-based Network,” but not an “Internet” made up of autonomous networks interoperating with each other. “Next-generation networks” generally use IP in a way that supports specialized functions within their own network that aren’t readily supported by general purpose interoperation between independent networks, and are thus in a subcategory of IP-based Networks that is distinct from the Internet.
- NGNs open up the prospect of certain advantages for their network providers, including allowing them to perform network management and provide for levels of quality of service and product and price differentiation by shaping packet transmissions. However, these types of offerings will supplant the flexible, inherently neutral and general purpose Internet platform if they are not distinguished from it, or if competition in the communications arena is reduced to a few providers offering networks of this type.
WTDC Resolutions in the Context of Key 2010 Plenipotentiary Resolutions WTDC Resolutions in the Context of Key 2010 Plenipotentiary Resolutions
- When we examine the 2010 WTDC Resolutions we find that they only occasionally make reference to the Internet, and generally use the broader and more indefinite terms ICTs or telecommunications/ICTs to reference the technologies under discussion.
- Instead, a narrow set of resolutions issued at the 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference provides the frame for the ITU’s usage of the key terms Internet, IP-based Networks and NGNs, including PP 101, 102, 133 and 137. The first three of these are the resolutions that provided the frame for the 2013 World Telecommunications/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF) this past May. The last, PP 137, specifically promotes deployment of next-generation networks in developing countries, and was not referenced by the WTPF.
- These resolutions do not offer a basis for understanding the differences between these terms, encourage a confusion between the terms Internet and IP-based Networks, and in fact emphasize IP-based Networks and NGNs, rather than acknowledging key characteristics of the Internet and addressing tradeoffs that other types of networks entail.
- Because of their relationship to these core resolutions, the WTDC Resolutions covered by the programmes of the 2010 WTDC’s Hyderabad Action Plan support the same confusion of terms.
- More broadly, the failure of the ITU’s resolutions and initiatives in support of the WSIS project to articulate these distinctions allows it to proceed in a way that will harm the Internet unless they are corrected.
- Of particular concern is the specific emphasis on deploying NGNs in developing countries that we find in PP 137. In the confused context created by PP 101, 102 and 133, it becomes critical as we approach the WTDC to address the confusion in the ITU’s treatment of these key terms in its resolutions.
- Various topics: resource mobilization and partnerships, applied research and technology transfer, strengthening cooperation of Member States and Sector Members, effective utilization of mobile communications, non-discriminatory access to modern telecommunications and ICTs, protecting consumers of ICTs, Internet access in developing countries and charging principles for international Internet connection, international alternate calling procedures and allocation of international telecommunications revenues, strategic and financial framework for Hyderabad Action Plan
- WTDC 13: Resource mobilization and partnerships for accelerating telecommunication and information and communication technology development
- WTDC 15: Applied research and transfer of technology
- WTDC 20: Non-discriminatory access to modern telecommunication and information technology facilities, services and related applications
- WTDC 22: Alternative calling procedures on international telecommunication networks, identification of originand apportionment of revenues in providing international telecommunication services
- WTDC 23: Internet access and availability for developing countries and charging principles for international Internet connection
- WTDC 30: Role of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society
- WTDC 53: Strategic and financial framework for the elaboration of the Hyderabad Action Plan
- WTDC 64: Protecting and supporting users/consumers of telecommunication services/ information and communication technologies
- WTDC 71: Strengthening cooperation between Member States and Sector Members of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector, including the private sector
- WTDC 72: More effective utilization of mobile communication services
- WTSA 20: Procedures for allocation and management of international telecommunication numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources
- WTSA 29: Alternative calling procedures on international telecommunication networks
- WTSA 69: Non-discriminatory access and use of Internet resources
- PP 21: Special measures concerning alternative calling procedures on international telecommunication networks
- PP 22: Apportionment of revenues in providing international telecommunication services
- PP 23: Apportionment of Revenues in Providing International Telecommunication Services
- PP 64: Non-discriminatory access to modern telecommunication/information and communication technology facilities, services and applications, including applied research and transfer of technology, on mutually agreed terms
- PP 140: ITU’s role in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society
- WTDC Resolution 30, on the ITU-D sector’s role in implementing the WSIS, is among the core resolutions defining the broad framework of ITU activities since the last WTDC. It is also the WTDC resolution that serves as the basis for the ITU-D sector’s treatment of the enabling environment.
- WTDC 30 invites the ITU-D sector to facilitate an enabling environment encouraging ITU-D Sector Members to invest in development of telecommunication/ICT infrastructure, assisting Member States and developing countries in finding innovative financial mechanisms and advancing their legal and regulatory frameworks to further infrastructure development and other WSIS goals. It invites ITU-D to pursue statistical work on telecommunication development, using indicators to evaluate progress with a view to bridging the digital divide, and to propose appropriate funding mechanisms for activities in support of the WSIS Action Lines.
- WTDC 30 encourages ITU-D to develop and implement the ITU-D strategic plan, placing a priority on building infrastructure at national, regional, interregional and global levels, working in cooperation with the other ITU sectors and development partners, with particular regard to the needs of developing countries, and encouraging the principle of non-exclusion from the information society. It calls on Member States to give priority to development of telecommunication/ICT infrastructure, including in rural, remote and underserved areas, and requests the Secretary-General to transmit the resolution to the 2010 plenipotentiary conference for consideration in updating PP Resolution 140.
- WTDC Resolution 13 concludes that the main players in the field of ICT should act in a way that encourages investments and innovative partnership schemes, that joint ventures should be explored for financing ICT development, that administrations should act to make the ICT sector more attractive for investment, and that a continuous dialogue should continue among telecommunication operators, service providers, and finance sources to prepare projects where BDT can play a catalyst role.
- WTDC 13 instructs the BDT Director to act as a catalyst in the development of partnerships, by encouraging regional ICT initiatives, organizing training seminars, signing agreements with national, regional and international development partners, and collaborating on initiatives with other relevant international, regional and intergovernmental organizations, to encourage partnerships with high priority given the WSIS outcomes, to coordinate with international bodies involved in ICT development, to encourage international financing agencies, Member States and Sector Members to address the building, reconstruction or upgrading of networks and infrastructure in developing countries as a priority, to promote conditions required for a successful knowledge-based enterprise incubator process and other projects for small, medium and micro enterprises in developing countries, to assist developing countries in responding to global telecommunication restructuring, especially regarding financial issues, and to promote human capacity building in developing countries relating to the ICT sector.
- WTDC Resolution 71 resolves that appropriate steps should be taken to create an enabling environment at the national, regional, and international levels for encouraging ICT development and investment by Sector Members and ITU-D should act to encourage the private sector to become Sector Members and take part in partnerships with telecommunication/ICT entities in developing countries, that ITU-D should take the interests and requirements of Sector Members into account to enable them to participate effectively in the Hyderabad Action Plan and the WSIS objectives, that a permanent agenda item on private sector issues will be included on the TDAG agenda, and that operational plans should respond to sector Member issues by strengthening communications between BDT, Member States and ITU-D Sector Members. It concludes that in implementing the ITU-D operational plan the BDT Director should consider actions to facilitate public-private partnerships for global, regional and flagship initiatives, to improve regional cooperation through regional meetings on issues of common interest, in particular for Sector Members, and to promote an enabling environment for investment and ICT development.
- WTDC 71 instructs the BDT Director to facilitate communications between Member States and Sector Members on issues which contribute to an enabling environment for investment, particularly in developing countries, to continue to organize the Global Industry Leaders Forum, possibly back-to-back with the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR), to foster exchange of information between Member States, Sector Members and regulators, and to further deploy and strengthen the ITU-D Sector Members’ portal to exchange and disseminate information about Sector Members.
- WTDC Resolution 22 encourages all administrations and international telecommunication operators to give effect to ITU’s recommendations in order to promote an accounting regime that would help limit the negative effects of alternative calling procedures and calling party number delivery on developing countries and limit the negative effects of misappropriation and misuse of international telecommunication numbering resources. It requests ITU-D to collaborate with ITU-T on the issue of refile to eliminate duplication of effort and achieve an outcome in line with PP Resolution 21, to play an effective role in implementation of PP Resolution 22 with respect to apportionment of revenues in favor of developing countries where cost-oriented accounting rates reflect asymmetric costs for terminating international traffic, requests administrations and international operators that permit alternative calling procedures but do not provide calling party number delivery in accordance with their national regulations to respect decisions of other administrations that do not permit such services and that request calling party number delivery for security and economic reasons, and urges cooperation in implementing WTSA Resolution 20 with respect to telecommunication origin identification and misuse of numbering, addressing and naming resources.
- WTDC Resolution 23 addresses provisions of § 50 of the Tunis Agenda recognizing the concerns among developing countries that charges for international Internet connectivity should be better balanced to enhance access, and calling for the development of strategies to increase affordable global connectivity. It notes that Internet service provider operators in developing countries have expressed concern that the commercial agreements between parties providing international Internet connectivity have not achieved the required balance in regard to charges between developed and developing countries.
- WTDC 23 asserts that continuing technical and economic development require ongoing studies in this area, while commercial initiatives by service providers have the potential to deliver cost savings for Internet access. It urges service providers to negotiate commercial arrangements for direct international Internet connectivity based on factors such as geographical coverage, number of routes and the cost of international transmission, instructs the BDT Director to conduct activities to promote information sharing among regulators on the relation between charging arrangements for international Internet connectivity and the affordability of international Internet infrastructure development in developing countries, and reaffirms the quest to ensure everyone can benefit from the opportunities that ICTs offer, recalling that governments, private sector, civil society, the UN and other international organizations can work together to pursue improved access to ICT infrastructure and technologies and other WSIS goals. It invites Member States to create policy conditions for competition in the international Internet backbone network access market and in the domestic Internet access service market, as means to lower the cost of Internet access for users and service providers, and urges regulators to promote competition among all service providers in the context of national policy, with a focus on reducing connectivity costs.
- WTDC Resolution 64 instructs the BDT Director to support the raising of awareness with decisionmakers regarding ICTs and with regulators regarding the importance of keeping users/consumers informed about basic characteristics, quality, security and rates of different services offered by operators, as well as the creation of other protection mechanisms supporting consumers’ rights, to collaborate with Member States in identifying critical areas for policies or regulatory frameworks for protecting users and consumers, to continue coordination with ITU-T on topics such as service quality, perceived quality and security, to strengthen relations with other international organizations involved in consumer protection, and to invite regions to create end user/consumer associations. It urges Member States to create and promote policies providing end users/consumers wih information on the characteristics of telecommunication services offered by different providers, and invites ITU-D Sector Members to contribute international best practices related to the implementation of consumer-protection policies, taking into consideration ITU guidelines and recommendations.
- WTDC Resolution 72 cites a need to facilitate development and utilization of mobile communications for many practical tasks, including with a view to ensuring more equal access to telecommunication/ICT services for all, observes that new mobile technologies may help bridge the digital divide between both developing and developed countries and urban and remote or rural regions, notes that performing practical tasks with mobile and broadband technologies opens up new prospects including affording access to new technologies to developing countries, and that many countries are interested in mobile services in areas such as e-health, e-government, money transfer and transactions, near-field communications, banking and mobile marketing. Affirming the role of ITU-D in coordinating rational use of resources in efforts to establish more widespread deployment of mobile telecommunication/ICT services in different countries of the world, WTDC 72 resolves that the BDT should play a key role in implementation of regional and national projects for mobile telecommunication systems to provide services such as the above, in cooperation with interested ITU Member States and the private sector, and should develop a programme to develop proposals and recommendations for mobile telecommunication services at regional and national levels.
- The Enabling Environment resolutions are phrased in terms of telecommunications and ICTs in general, with only a few references to the Internet or IP-based networks.
- WTDC 23 references the Internet in describing concerns among developing countries that charges for international Internet connectivity should be better balanced, as presented in § 50 of the Tunis Agenda, in citing WTSA 69′s call for Member States to refrain from discriminatory actions that could impede access to public Internet sites by other Member States, and in noting that ITU-T Recommendation D.50 recommends international Internet connectivity be based on negotiating bilateral commercial arrangements that incorporate consideration of factors such as traffic flow, geographical coverage, or number of routes, whereas international Internet connections remain subject to commercial agreements that do not achieve balance in charges between developing and developed countries; that increases in costs of international Internet connectivity will result in delays in access to the Internet; and that service providers might deliver cost savings for Internet access through commercial initiatives such as those that might result in more traffic being routed locally. WTDC 23 also speaks of the Internet in its invitation for Member States to support ITU-T’s monitoring of the application of ITU-T D.50 and to create policy conditions for effective competition both in the international Internet backbone market and in domestic Internet access, in its urging service providers to negotiate international Internet connection according to the ITU-T D.50 recommendation, and in its instruction to the BDT Director to promote information sharing among regulators on the relation between charging arrangements for international Internet connectivity and the affordability of international Internet infrastructure development in developing countries.
- WTDC 23 refers to the Internet and IP-based services as distinct terms in one reference to “the rapid growth of the internet and IP-based international services.”
- WTDC 22, WTSA 20 and PP 21, on alternative calling procedures on international telecommunication networks, identification of origin and apportionment of revenues in international telecommunication services, all reference other terms besides Internet. WTDC 22 cites PP 21′s call for ITU-T study groups to study alternative calling procedures and identification of origin in relation to next generation networks, and WTSA 20 notes “the ongoing deployment of next-generation networks (NGN), future networks (FN) and IP-based networks.” WTSA 20 makes a single mention of the term Internet in association with the concept of convergence, with a reference to “the global growth of mobile and Internet subscribers and the convergence of telecommunication services.”
- WTSA 69, on non-discrimination in access to and use of Internet resources, notes that ITU-T is dealing with technical and policy issues related to IP-based networks, including the Internet and next-generation networks, and references the Internet in citations of the UN Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, § 48 of the WSIS Declaration of Principles, on the governance of the Internet as a core issue of the information society agenda, and Opinion 1 of the Fourth WTPF and the 2009 Lisbon Consensus on Internet-related public policy matters. It notes the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development, that discrimination in accessing the Internet could greatly affect the developing countries, and the fact that the 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference entrusted ITU-T with a number of Internet-related activities, including those under PP 102, on ITU’s role in international Internet-related public policy issues and management of Internet resources.
- International Internet Connectivity
- Whatever the outcome of efforts referred to in WTDC 23 to increase the affordability of international Internet connectivity for developing countries, it is important to incorporate recognition of the key characteristics of the Internet in connection with this resolution because while these bilateral arrangements may provide for connectivity that constitutes Internet access at the international level, this does not mean the term “international Internet connectivity” designates Internet connectivity at more local scopes. The commercial initiatives WTDC 23 suggests service providers might implement to gain cost savings could well include practices that are viable within intranets but not in an Internet context.
- Funding Mechanisms, Partnerships
- WTDC 30 and 13 both relate to the role of private investment in development of infrastructure and services. Both relate to PP 102 in the core framework, which among other things also addresses private investment. WTDC 30 is more focused on funding methods and “innovative funding mechanisms,” while WTDC 13 is more focused on encouraging “innovative partnership schemes” and joint ventures.
- The language in these resolutions should be revised to explicitly acknowledge the problem of developing funding mechanisms and partnership schemes that support and work within contexts providing competitive access at the physical layer, rather than using generalized language amenable to being interpreted in accord with vertically integrated telecommunications contexts such as we find in the United States.
- If the vertically integrated telecommunications model is to be supported, the language should also incorporate recognition of a competitive environment of numerous providers interoperating at the physical layer, recognizing that this type of context empowers end users and independent providers and creates an open, flexible platform that fosters innovation. The latter type of context has profound advantages that should be compared against the advantages of intranet services, whether by a few providers or numerous.
- There is no Internet within a vertically integrated telecommunications environment that has joined the physical layer with the higher layers within which applications are deployed, since there are no autonomous networks interoperating. Acknowledging this distinction is particularly important to developing countries that may want to perform this comparison or seek support for developing either type of context in the near or long term.
- Indeed, if the ITU places an emphasis on NGNs in its development programs in support of the WSIS, as we see expressed in PP 137, it’s imperative to be able to recognize the difference between these types of offerings, with the specialized types of services they support, and the general purpose platform the Internet makes possible between independent network providers.
- The economics of a vertically integrated market relates to control and efficiency for particular producers and the particular products supported by their production and supply chains. An analysis in those terms does not address the impact that vertical integration has on the direct social advantages of the flexible, general purpose platform produced among providers internetworking as they compete at the physical layer and the diversity of products and services made possible by this platform.
- In the framing of policy, telecommunications contexts that support vertical integration have the characteristic of treating physical layer infrastructure to a great degree as private, conditioning regulation on a prior determination of anti-competitive behaviors or effects. The use of public-private partnerships in this type of context can reinforce this approach to regulating the physical layer, helping condition involvement of the public sector on greater private privileges.
- However, other legal traditions may not apply analysis of anti-competitive effects as a precondition to regulate the public right of way: this approach proceeds from a premise that regulation of a shared public resource is given by its nature. This approach more readily applies conditions and obligations on entities that gain access to install infrastructure across the public right of way, treating the infrastructure as inherently subject to public requirements. It will benefit the flexibility of the framework that ITU applies in its activities in support of WSIS, to incorporate recognition that public-private partnerships might also be structured in a way more consistent with this type of legal tradition.
- All of the areas WTDC 30 invites ITU-D to conduct activities in support of — fostering enabling environments, innovative financial mechanisms, and legal and regulatory frameworks, developing the ITU-D Strategic Plan, measurable indicators for statistical analysis of progress, and appropriate funding mechanisms — should be articulated carefully to incorporate recognition and support for environments that provide for competitive access to the physical layer.
- (Resolution 71)
- Technology Transfer, Non-Discrimination
- Many of the references to the Internet in WTSA 69 may benefit from a review with an eye for adding provisions to recognize the nature, key characteristics of and advantages of the Internet.
- Consumer Protection
- distinguish Internet, specialized services
- policy impact on flexibility on Internet
- The pursuit of enabling environments for infrastructure development without recognizing the nature of the Internet will have impacts on the Internet and on WSIS goals.
- Impacts on the Internet:
- Depending on the policy and regulatory context, the establishing of enabling environments can affect the ability for independent, autonomous networks to readily interoperate by means of the Internet protocols unless the nature of the Internet is acknowledged clearly.
- A communications environment constituted of competing providers interoperating in a general purpose manner supports greater freedom to innovate and diversity of applications than the type of environment that exists within a managed service framework subject to a common policy administered by a core authority, whether public or private. And if governance were established in a manner that mandates or depends on such a framework, this policy frame would have direct effect on the Internet’s flexibility and openness for both independent networks and end users.
- In addition, if we fail to recognize the basis of the Internet platform in competition among autonomous, interoperating providers, we will easily accommodate a vertically integrated telecommunications environment that treats infrastructure installed across the public right of way as a more wholly private asset supplying the higher level services of the incumbents, with numerous implications for fundamental rights and innovation, as well as for competition. Indeed, without this recognition, the international framework for Internet governance that the WSIS is designed in part to bring about could take overlooking the nature of the public right of way in the telecommunications regulatory context to a whole new level.
- Impacts on WSIS Goals:
- Confidence and Security in the Enabling Environment: A failure to recognize the characteristics of the Internet in the Information Society’s initiatives will affect the goals of building confidence and security in relation to the enabling environment for development, with implications for many of the purposes of Action Line C6. The implications can be understood not only in relation to development, but also in relation to innovation and fundamental liberties.
- Some types of incentives for infrastructure development may be built on capacities made possible in managed service frameworks (such as discrete tiers of service allowing differentiated price schemes), or that may be enabled by a regulatory environment that allows incumbents to treat the infrastructure they install at the physical layer as a supply to a vertically integrated production process. These approaches to encouraging development are distinct in nature from the approach associated with the Internet platform, where innovation by independent providers and end users drives demand for infrastructure. In addition, competitive access at the physical layer supports the openness and flexibility of the Internet platform, since competing providers must transmit packets in a general purpose manner in order to interoperate and provide global connectivity to their users. As a result, our confidence that the platform will support innovation as well as freedoms of press, expression, and association, can be affected deleteriously if a vertically integrated telecommunications market limits access to the physical layer by the effective control of a private party.
- Security in relation to the enabling environment may be conceived in terms of security of transactions and e-commerce, or it may be conceived in terms of the security of fundamental liberties. The effect of enforcement of e-commerce and policies on the Internet and what counts as security will depend on whether the dynamic, interactive and collaborative possibilities enabled by the Internet are borne in mind.
- The implications for security in terms of fundamental liberties are like those described for cybersecurity. If the telecommunications environment is vertically integrated, the implication is that infrastructure will be treated in terms of the private interest of those who install it across the public right of way, and as a result fundamental liberties related to the communications of citizens, understood as limits on the government, might be characterized as inapplicable. And public oversight of the public right of way in the form of regulation of infrastructure might be characterized in that framework as a violation of the rights of those who installed the infrastructure, rather than recognizing that oversight as a natural reflection of the nature of the public right of way as a shared resource that must be governed to foster competition and oversee access. In the latter context the government is barred from abridging the fundamental liberties of the general public, not of those who install infrastructure, and incumbents naturally may incur obligations, including limitations that reflect those that apply to the government, in return for privileged access. So security in the sense of reliable support for fundamental liberties may be affected when the foundation of the Internet in competitive access at the physical layer is overlooked and infrastructure is treated as private assets vertically integrated with the products and services of incumbent providers.
- Action Line C6: A failure to address the nature of the Internet will have impacts on the goals of Geneva Action Line C6 including understandings of what constitutes a pro-competitive policy, legal and regulatory context, and what appropriate incentives are; how we define internet governance, public policy issues, and roles and responsibilities of various parties; how various technology policies relate to national strategies for public administration; how we protect consumers in their access to the Internet; the nature of open, interoperable, non-discriminatory standards; the nature of the secure storage framework; and how we understand online privacy.
- Group on capacity-building initiatives; ITU centres of excellence; telecommunication infrastructure and ICTs for socio-economic and cultural development
- PP 31: Telecommunication infrastructure and information and communication technologies for socio-economic and cultural development
Other Resolution Areas
- Telecommunications/ICTs in rural, isolated and poorly served areas and indigenous communities; gender equality through ICTs; access to ICTs for persons with disabilities, including age-related disabilities; development of the Youth Forum in BDT
- WTDC 11: Telecommunication/information and communication technology services in rural, isolated and poorly served areas and indigenous communities
- WTDC 38: Development of the Youth Forum in the Telecommunication Development Bureau
- WTDC 46: Assistance and promotion for indigenous communities in the world: Information society through information and communication technology
- WTDC 68: Assistance to indigenous peoples within the activities of the Telecommunication Development Bureau in its related programmes
- WTDC 55: Promoting gender equality towards all-inclusive information societies
- WTDC 44: Mainstreaming gender in ITU-D programmes
- WTDC 7: Gender and Telecommunication Policy in Developing Countries
- WTDC 58: Access to information and communication technology for persons with disabilities, including persons with age-related disabilities
- WTDC 70: Regional initiative for Central and Eastern Europe on “E-accessibility (Internet and digital television) for persons with disabilities”
- WTSA 55: Mainstreaming a gender perspective in ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector activities
- WTSA 57: Strengthening coordination and cooperation among the three ITU Sectors on matters of mutual interest
- WTSA 70: Telecommunication/information and communication technology accessibility for persons with disabilities
- PP 70: Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies
- PP 175: Telecommunication/information and communication technology accessibility for persons with disabilities, including age-related disabilities
- PP 184: Facilitating digital inclusion initiatives for indigenous peoples
Other Resolution Areas
(Overview of WTDC Resolutions) Overview of WTDC Resolutions
- Capacity Building
- WTDC Resolution 73 concludes that ITU Centers of Excellence should be continued, strengthened according to priorities determined in consultation with the ITU membership, and instructs the BDT Director to assist and facilitate them and carry out a comprehensive analysis of their activities in organizational, financial and programme terms. It references PP Resolutions 123 and 139 on bridging the standardization gap and the digital divide, and WTDC Resolutions 15, 37 and 47, on technology transfer and applied research, bridging the digital divide, and the conformance and interoperability program, which we have already examined. It also references WTDC Resolution 40, on human resource development.
- WTDC 40 instructs the BDT Director to establish a group on capacity-building initiatives to contribute to ITU-D capacity-building initiatives in an integrated manner in cooperation with all programmes and the two ITU-D study groups. This group is to represent each of the six regions with two experts and work with BDT staff to identify global trends in ICTs and capacity building, regional needs and priorities, including evaluating progress and making proposals to harmonize activities, design and implement an integrated framework for the ITU Academy, advise on development of ICT curricula, accreditation and certification, standards for quality assurance for ITU Academy partnership courses, and initiatives, partnerships and academic alliances that further ITU Academy objectives, as well as prepare a report for the annual TDAG meeting covering achievements and proposals for future action.
- Digital Inclusivity
- WTDC Resolution 11 observes that all WTDCs have affirmed a need to provide access to basic telecommunication/ICT services for everyone, particularly for developing countries, in rural and isolated areas and in indigenous communities. It notes that a clear correlation has been shown between availability of universal telecommunication/ICT services and economic and social development and that in many areas there is evidence of the profitability of telecommunication/ICT services in rural, isolated and poorly served areas and in indigenous communities, that several state-of-the-art technologies may help in the provision of telecommunication/ICT services in this area, that access to these services in this circmstance requires judicious choice of technologies, and that ITU-D Study Group 2 has developed useful references in this area under Question 10.
- WTDC 11 resolves to support the conclusions of Study Group 2 regarding rural telecommunication programmes, including regulatory framework, financial resources and commercial approach and universal access, instructs the group to continue their studies and the BDT Director to promote appropriate means to facilitate development of telecommunication/ICT services in these areas.
- WTDC Resolution 68 resolves to affirm a special initiative for indigenous peoples in Programme 4 and in all BDT programmes, to support digital inclusion of indigenous peoples in forums and training on ICT for social and economic development, to support human resource training in design and management of public policies for ICT development in remote and isolated areas, for groups with specific needs and for indigenous peoples, and to support capacity training for indigenous peoples in development and maintenance of ICTs, incorporating best practices and knowledge of indigenous peoples and participation by indigenous experts where appropriate. It instructs the BDT Director to reinforce the initiative through collaboration with Member States and other relevant regional and international organizations.
- WTDC Resolution 55 resolves that the Working Group on Gender Issues will work with ITU-D to promote gender equality in ICTs through recommending policies and programmes at the international, regional and national levels, and endorses an action plan to: develop initiatives in developing countries that are either specifically targeted to women or gender sensitive, incorporate a gender perspective in Study Group questions, support gender-sensitive cross-country data analyses, assess gender implications in evaluating projects, provide capacity training to BDT staff in gender mainstreaming, mobilize resources for gender-sensitive projects or projects specifically targeted to women, and develop partnerships with other UN agencies to promote the use of ICTs in projects aimed at women. It instructs the BDT Director to allocate necessary resources to this action plan and provide assistance to members in relation to it, and invites the Plenipotentiary Conference to provide financial and human resources to support the continued integration of a gender perspective in ITU development activities and bring the resolution to the attention of the UN Secretary-General for increased coordination and cooperation in promoting gender equality.
- WTDC Resolution 58 invites Member States to envisage establishing a programme that considers priorities for ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities, with a view to progressive implementation, to pursue research and development in ICT-accessible equipment, services and software, to collect data on ICT accessibility with an eye toward creating e-accessibility indicators as a contribution to policy-making, to encourage participation of persons with disabilities in ICT policy-making and areas where ICTs have an impact, to establish ongoing collaboration between developed and developing countries to exchange information, technology and best practices regarding ICT accessibility, and to mainstream ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities. It also urges them to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, develop national laws and policies for ICT accessibility, and consider introducing ICT-accessible services and tax exemptions for assistive devices.
- WTDC 58 instructs the BDT Director to ensure that the work of ITU-D as well as the provision of ICT equipment, services and software take into account the needs of persons with disabilities, including age-related disabilities, to document and share information on best practices in telecommunication/ICT accessibility, to provide capacity building and develop tools and guidelines for Member States on mainstreaming ICT accessibility issues in national policies and regulations, to collaborate with the other ITU sectors on accessibility-related activities and with relevant UN entities and disability organizations in all regions to generate awareness, and to designate a focal point for ICT accessibility and strengthen the special initiative on persons with disabilities, as well as consider holding forums for policy-makers, telecommunication regulators and Sector Members on accessibility issues, promoting reports and materials on ICT accessibility, and developing an internship program for persons with disabilities with expertise in ICTs. It invites ITU-D Sector Members to adopt a universal design principle in developing ICT equipment, to promote research and development on ICT-accessible technology with due regard for affordability, encouraging participation by persons with disabilities, and to take a self-regulation approach to accessibility of ICT equipment in collaboration with Member States.
(Usage of Key Terms) Usage of Key Terms
- Capacity Building
- WTDC 40 and 73 and PP 31 all speak in terms of ICTs and telecommunication/ICTs, without reference to the Internet, IP-based networks, or next generation networks, other than WTDC 40′s references to the BDT’s Internet training centers initiative.
- We have addressed the problem of recognizing the Internet in the WSIS project as it relates to capacity building to a great degree already in our treatment of the conformance and interoperability thrust, including our comments there on the resolutions for bridging the digital divide and the standardization gap. We have also commented on the technology transfer resolutions in our treatment of the resolutions for ICT Applications, e-government, and mobile communications.
- Digital Inclusivity
- All the digital inclusivity resolutions speak with reference to the general terms ICTs or telecommunication/ICTs. Only the resolutions on access for persons with disabilities use the term internet, and none refer to IP-based networks or next generation networks.
- The resolutions on access for persons with disabilities, WTDC 58 and 70, WTSA 70, and PP 175, mention the Internet with references to the Internet Governance Forum, to the Internet and digital TV as two technologies presenting special difficulties for persons with disabilities, to maximizing the benefits of online information through the Internet for all sectors of the global community, to promoting access for persons with disabilities to new ICTs and systems including the Internet, and to the provision of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calling for signatory States to act to provide access to ICT, emergency services and Internet services to persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
- We have addressed the problem of recognizing the Internet in the WSIS project as it relates to capacity building to a great degree already in our treatment of the conformance and interoperability thrust, including our comments there on the resolutions for bridging the digital divide and the standardization gap.
- Capacity building clearly needs to incorporate recognition of the nature and advantages of the Internet as distinct from other types of networks, as capacity building initiatives represent a key means for instituting and expanding understanding of the conceptual framework of the Information Society, with implications for how its initiatives and the technologies it promotes serve its goals. Here we elaborate this concern with reference to the motives of WSIS.
- Digital inclusivity for various groups and communities is benefited profoundly by the nature of the Internet, and these constituencies may lose these advantages if the Information Society proceeds in a manner that affects the Internet’s character without recognizing this impact.
- Impacts on WSIS Goals
- The empowerment of end users made possible by the open platform produced by the Internet when it is constituted of diverse, autonomous providers that can readily enter the field of communications at the physical layer, is of a different character from that which managed service frameworks make possible within individual networks, and from that which may be expected in vertically integrated telecommunications regimes. The implications of failing to recognize the empowerment of end users and independent providers that Internet connectivity is designed to make possible, include effects on self-determination, autonomy and independence of communities such as the young people, women and girls, nomadic and indigenous peoples, and communities residing in rural and underserved regions which Action Line C4 references, or the older population, persons with disabilities, children and other disadvantaged groups referenced by Action Line C2.
- If the difference is not recognized between what an open platform among independent and autonomous providers makes possible, and the unique possibilities for specialized services that individual providers may make possible within their own networks, then the outcome of the Information Society project may easily be to supplant the type of empowerment and digital inclusion that the Internet is designed to bring, replacing it with narrower options that other types of connectivity may entail, with pervasive effects on all the provisions of Action Lines C2, C3, C4, C8 and C11.
- It would affect the content of the programmes for capacity building, lifelong learning and universal education that Action Line C4 advocates pursuing, including the substance of courses in public administration, the nature of the qualifications of ICT experts, and the role to be played by the libraries, multipurpose community centers, local ICT training centers, and public access points advocated by C4. It would also affect the nature of the pilot networking projects among education, training and research institutions between developing and developed countries, and in fact the very kinds of ICTs that would be recognized as appropriate for integration into education and training, also referenced by Action Line C4.
- The failure to recognize the distinction can also easily affect the types of national policies for promoting investment in infrastructure and new services, and indeed the nature of the national, regional and international “broadband network” infrastructure, that Action Line C2 advocates pursuing as the “essential foundation” for digital inclusion in the Information Society. This would include the incentivizing of infrastructure investment by treating privileged access to the physical layer as a “supply” vertically integrated with the production processes of higher layer services offered by telecommunications incumbents, or defining new policy frameworks in association with the term “broadband.”
- It would affect the type of connectivity that would be established for schools, universities, health institutions, libraries, post offices, community centers, museums, and other public institutions according to the call in Action Line C2. It would affect the type of universal access policies and strategies and connectivity indicators that would be identified, and shape the parameters for the technical, regulatory and operational studies in public/private partnerships, systems standards, access to orbital resources, satellite for underserved areas, and frequency harmonization, also advocated by C2. It would affect the types of educational, administrative and legislative measures to serve various disadvantaged groups, and indeed the type of end user equipment, that Action Line C2 encourages promoting.
- The commercially negotiated transit and interconnection arrangements for global connectivity that Action Line C2 urges pursuing could supplant the advantages of the Internet if its characteristics are not delineated, and the advocating of “objective, transparent and non-discriminatory parameters” for connectivity in C2 could serve to replace recognition of how the basis of the Internet in competitive interoperation among independent providers can serve inclusivity by assuring the openness of the platform is maintained.
- The failure to recognize the distinction between Internet and other types of networks would affect access to information, cultural identity and diversity, and international cooperation as envisioned by Action Lines C3, C8 and C11. It would affect the types of information made available as urged by Action Line C3, what would count as public domain, the types of use and sharing of information that would be supported whether technically or legally, what types of exclusive rights would apply in the context of the capabilities of the technology, what roles would be played by multi-purpose community public access points, and how connectivity would work as the “fundamental working tool” for local governance that C3 recommends recognizing.
- It would affect the extent of empowerment that would apply toward the calls in Action Line C8 to promote the production of cultural works and local cultural industries, local community media, local heritage and biological diversity, support of rural and isolated communities, and local development for disadvantaged, vulnerable, non-literate and disabled communities.
- It would affect the ways in which the enhancing of the capacity for indigenous to develop works in their language advocated by C8, and what kinds of best practices would be recognized for promoting cultural and linguistic diversity. And the nature of the policy and regulatory contexts associated with network infrastructure would interact with the nature of the public/private partnerships to promote cultural diversity and local and national works, and to recognize “ICT-based works” that C8 encourages, to embed these purposes in new formulations of the nature of the telecommunications regime and of the role of the government and private parties in that regime, in ways that could fundamentally alter the role of diverse, local communities.
- Effects that a failure to recognize the distinction between Internet and other types of connectivity would have on international cooperation as envisaged by Action Line C11 would relate to the question of what kind of connectivity would be made available in service of C11′s calls for providing means for universal access and bridging of the digital divide, and for international cooperation on infrastructure development projects. Action Line C11 references a larger scope than the WSIS project’s frame, calling for the acceleration of public-private partnerships in the context of the UN’s Global Compact and Millennium Declaration. In policy and regulatory contexts that do not promote competitive access to the physical layer, as we find in contexts that maintain vertically integrated telecommunications environments, the promotion of public-private partnerships can tend to entrench that pattern if they do not build in special recognition of the role of public oversight of shared telecommunications infrastructure.
- Strengthening the regional presence; ITU’s role in assisting developing countries and implementing regionally approved initiatives; telecommunication standardization in interests of developing countries; bridging the standardization gap; enhanced participation by developing countries; regional preparations for WTDCs and WTSAs and Plenipotentiary Conferences; deployment of NGNs in developing countries; support for development of the African ICT sector; Agenda for Connectivity in the Americas and Quito action Plan; Central and Eastern Europe initiative on e-accessibility for persons with disabilities; admission of academic research establishments in work of the ITU; special actions for least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries and countries with economies in transition; assistance to countries in special need for rebuilding their telecommunication sector
(Click to See International and Regional Resolutions) (Click to Hide International and Regional Resolutions)
- WTDC 5: Enhanced participation by developing countries in the activities of the Union
- WTDC 16: Special actions and measures for the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries and countries with economies in transition
- WTDC 17: Implementation of regionally approved initiatives , at the national, regional, interregional and global levels
- WTDC 21: Coordination and collaboration with regional organizations
- WTDC 31: Regional preparations for world telecommunication development conferences
- WTDC 32: International and regional cooperation on regional initiatives
- WTDC 35: Support for development of the African information and communication technology sector
- WTDC 39: Agenda for connectivity in the Americas and Quito Action Plan
- WTSA 43: Regional preparations for world telecommunication standardization assemblies
- WTSA 53: Establishment of a workshop and seminar coordination group
- WTSA 56: Roles of TSAG and ITU-T study group vice-chairmen from developing countries
- WTSA 59: Enhancing participation of telecommunication operators from developing countries
- WTSA 74: Admission of Sector Members from developing countries in the work of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector
- PP 25: Strengthening the regional presence
- PP 30: Special measures for the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries and countries with economies in transition
- PP 58: Strengthening of relations between ITU and regional telecommunication organizations and regional preparations for the Plenipotentiary Conference
- PP 112: Regional preparations for plenipotentiary conferences
- PP 124: Support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development
- PP 128: Support for the Agenda for Connectivity in the Americas and Quito Action Plan
- PP 135: ITU’s role in the development of telecommunications/information and communication technologies, in providing technical assistance and advice to developing countries1, and in implementing relevant national, regional and interregional projects
- PP 137: Next-generation network deployment in developing countries
- PP 143: Extending the provisions in ITU documents relating to developing countries1 to apply to countries with economies in transition
- PP 169: Admission of academia, universities and their associated research establishments to participate in the work of the three Sectors of the Union
- PP 170: Admission of Sector Members from developing countries to participate in the work of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector and the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector
Other Resolution Areas