Recognizing WSIS Impacts

Unless it acknowledges key characteristics of the Internet, the World Summit on the Information Society will easily undermine it

WTDC Resolution 37

WTDC RESOLUTION 37 (Rev. Dubai, 2014)

Bridging the digital divide

The World Telecommunication Development Conference (Dubai, 2014),

  • recalling
    • a) Resolution 37 (Rev. Hyderabad, 2010) of the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC);
    • b) Resolution 139 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) of the Plenipotentiary Conference,
  • recognizing
    • a) that the telecommunication environment has undergone significant changes since WTDC‑10;
    • b) that there is still a need to show clearly what the digital divide is, where it occurs, and who suffers from it;
    • c) that development in information and communication technologies (ICTs) has continued to reduce the cost of relevant equipment;
    • d) that in many ITU Member States regulations have been adopted dealing with regulatory issues such as interconnection, determination of tariffs, universal service, etc., designed to bridge the digital divide at the national level;
    • e) that the introduction of competition in the provision of telecommunication/ICT services has also continued to reduce telecommunication/ICT costs to users;
    • f) that national plans and projects for the provision of telecommunication services in developing countries contribute to reducing costs to users and bridging the digital divide;
    • g) that the introduction of new applications and services has also resulted in bringing down telecommunication/ICT costs;
    • h) that there is still an ongoing need to create digital opportunities in developing countries, including the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries and countries with economies in transition, taking advantage of the revolution that ICTs have witnessed and are currently witnessing;
    • i) that various activities are being executed towards bridging the digital divide by many international and regional organizations, such as, in addition to ITU, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the United Nations economic commissions, the World Bank, the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), the regional economic communities, the regional development banks and many others, and that such activity has increased following the conclusion of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the adoption of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, particularly in relation to implementation and follow-up;
    • j)that the BYND2015 World Youth Summit participants, in the Declaration of Costa Rica 2013, called for equitable and universal access to ICTs, particularly for women and girls, as well as other groups marginalized by the digital divide, and called for the United Nations, the international community and all Member States to consider their words and put them into action,
  • considering
    • a) that, even with all the developments mentioned above, in many developing countries and especially in rural areas, telecommunications/ICTs, particularly in relation to the Internet, are still not affordable to the majority of the people, as is evident at present;
    • b) that each region, country and area should tackle its own specific issues regarding the digital divide, while stressing the importance of cooperation in this area at regional and international level in order to benefit from experience gained;
    • c) that many developing countries do not have the necessary basic infrastructure, long‑term plans, laws, appropriate regulations and such like in place for telecommunication/ICT development;
    • d) that the use of radiocommunication systems, in particular satellite systems, to provide access for local communities located in rural or remote areas without increased connection costs due to distance or other geographical characteristics is an extremely useful tool for bridging the digital divide;
    • e) that satellite broadband systems support communication solutions offering high connectivity, speed and reliability in both urban areas and rural and remote areas, and thus constitute a fundamental driver of economic and social development for countries and regions;
    • f) that the development of radiocommunication technologies and deployment of satellite systems enable sustainable and affordable access to information and knowledge, through the provision of communication services with high connectivity (broadband) and wide coverage (regional or global reach), which contribute significantly to bridging the digital divide, efficiently complementing other technologies and enabling countries to be connected directly, quickly and reliably;
    • g) that Programme 1 of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) under the Hyderabad Action Plan, on information and communication infrastructure and technology development, has provided assistance to developing countries in the area of spectrum management and in the efficient and cost‑effective development of rural, national and international broadband telecommunication networks, including satellite,
  • further considering
    • a) that the distribution of the benefits brought about by the ICT revolution is not equitable between developing and developed countries, and between social categories within countries, taking into account the commitments of both phases of WSIS to bridge the digital divide and transform it into a digital opportunity;
    • b) that equitable access to information and the transition of the countries of the developing world into knowledge economies and into the information age will enhance their economic, social and cultural development, in implementation of the aims of the Geneva Plan of Action and Tunis Agenda and of Goal 2 (To provide assistance to developing countries in bridging the digital divide by achieving broader telecommunication/ICT-enabled socio-economic development) of the strategic plan for the Union for 2012‑2015 in Resolution 71 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, which is expected to be maintained in the new plan for 2016-2019, taking into consideration that such access shall be affordable;
    • c) that, in 2015, the United Nations General Assembly will assess the outcomes and implementation of both the Millennium Development Goals and the WSIS Tunis Agenda,
  • confirms
    • the importance of approaches to funding for bridging the digital divide in the Geneva Plan of Action, the Tunis Agenda and the strategic plan for the Union and of their translation into equitable mechanisms for action, particularly in respect of issues related to Internet management, taking into consideration measures for promoting full gender equality, with due regard for people with specific needs, including persons with disabilities and age-related disabilities, youth and indigenous peoples, telecommunications/ICTs for disaster relief and mitigation, and the child online protection initiative,
  • undertakes
    • to carry out work from which all countries, especially the developing countries, may benefit, with a view to establishing international methods and specific mechanisms to strengthen international cooperation for bridging the digital divide, through connectivity solutions which support sustainable and affordable access to ICTs, and, in parallel, to continue to shorten the time-frames for implementation of the Digital Solidarity Agenda, beginning with the Geneva Plan of Action, the outcomes of the Connect the World summits, the Tunis Agenda and the strategic plan for the Union,
  • resolves to request the Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau
    • 1 to continue to follow up the work pursuant to Resolution 8 (Rev. Dubai, 2014) of this conference in creating social connectivity indicators for the digital divide, standard indicators for each country and a single index, in cooperation with the competent organizations in the relevant United Nations agencies, using available statistics so that charts can be compiled to illustrate the current situation of the digital divide in each country and region;
    • 2 to continue to advocate the advantages of developing low‑cost, high‑quality ICT-customer computers, that can be directly connected to the networks supporting the Internet and Internet applications, so that economies of scale can be achieved on account of their acceptability at the global level, taking into consideration the possibility of satellite use of this computer;
    • 3 to continue to assist in developing a user-awareness campaign in order to build user trust and confidence in ICT applications;
    • 4 to ensure that special programmes under the centres of excellence continue to address the specific issue of ICT training for poverty alleviation, and to give top priority to these centres;
    • 5 to continue to foster the development of innovative models in order to reduce poverty and bridge the digital divide in the developing countries successfully;
    • 6 to continue to identify key ICT applications in rural areas and to cooperate with specialized organizations with a view to developing a standardized user‑friendly content format that overcomes the barrier of literacy and language;
    • 7 to continue to assist in reducing access costs by encouraging manufacturers to develop appropriate technology scalable to broadband applications and having a low operating and maintenance cost, this having been adopted as a key objective of the Union as a whole and ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU‑D) in particular;
    • 8 to assist and support developing countries in researching and assessing difficulties and challenges in the operation and maintenance of multipurpose community telecentres in rural and remote areas, with a view to advising developing countries on models of multipurpose community telecentres, including digital inclusion, in rural and remote areas adapted to local circumstances;
    • 9 to encourage members to provide ITU with ICT rural experiences, which can then be put on the ITU‑D website;
    • 10 to continue to assist the Member States and Sector Members in developing a pro-competition policy and regulatory framework for ICTs, including online services and electronic commerce, as well as capacity building in connectivity and accessibility, taking into account the specific needs of women and disadvantaged groups;
    • 11 to continue to encourage development of broadcast-mode methods for promoting ICT uses in rural areas;
    • 12 to continue to help in promoting greater participation of women in ICT initiatives, particularly in rural areas;
    • 13 to promote the implementation of studies or projects and activities, in collaboration with the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU‑R), with a view, on the one hand, to complementing national radiocommunication systems, including satellite systems, and, on the other, to increasing knowledge and capacities thereof, in order to achieve optimum utilization of the orbit spectrum resource, with the aim of stimulating the development and coverage of satellite broadband for bridging the digital divide;
    • 14 to analyse the adoption of measures for collaboration with ITU‑R, in order to support studies, projects or systems and, at the same time, to implement joint activities which seek to build capacities in efficient use of the orbit/spectrum resource for the provision of satellite services, with a view to achieving affordable access to satellite broadband and facilitating network connectivity between different areas, countries and regions, especially in the developing countries,
  • invites Member States
    • to consider promoting relevant policies to foster public and private investment in the development and construction of radiocommunication systems, including satellite systems, in their countries and regions, and to consider including the use of such systems in their national and/or regional broadband plans, as an additional tool that will help to bridge the digital divide and meet telecommunication needs, especially in the developing countries.

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