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Internet Governance 14 May 2013

Strategic Dialogue at the World Telecommunication Policy Forum

The ITU Strategic Dialogue session was held on 13 May at the CICG in Geneva. The focus of the pre WTPF event was to discuss broadband development and deployment through two panel discussions.  The two panels were moderated by Raffaele Barberio, Director, Key4Biz. 

The first panel was on “Building our Broadband”, which examined the role of broadband as critical infrastructure and a platform for progress and multistakeholder engagement, including content development and infrastructure deployment.  However opinion appears to be divided as to whether broadband Internet service represents a basic need, fundamental right or a utility. 

Moez Chakchouk from the Tunisian Internet Agency raised several points about the need to be multistakeholder and to work with all Stakeholders.  In addition he also noted the importance of the Internet exchanges for improving local connectivity and enabling broadband deployment.

Internet Society’s CEO Lynn St. Amour noted in her opening remarks that the Internet should not be misconstrued to be broadband as there are some very important differences.  Broadband provides the access technology that enables the Internet and its IP-based services and applications.  Lynn also noted the relevance of this access and the importance of infrastructure deployment to create the environment where content can be generated and flow across the Internet.  She pointed out the value of Open Standards and that referring to the ISOC 2012 Global Internet Users Survey – noted that 83% agreed that access to the Internet is a basic human right and in ISOC’s view, fundamental human rights are about the ability to speak and be heard – rights that are enabled by technology, but are not the technology itself.  So rather than binding human rights to technologies that will most certainly evolve, we should focus our efforts on ensuring that the fundamental human rights to receive and impart information are never constrained.  Lynn emphasized the importance of multistakeholder involvement in policies, business practices, standards, and for support for an open Internet platform that enables the future rather than constraining it. 

Diego Molano Vega, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, Colombia in his opening remarks agreed with the points that Lynn raised regarding multistakeholder involvement and an open environment reliant on open standards.

Panel 2 focused on “Broadband Driving Development”.  Ms Omobola Johnson, Honourable Minister of Communication Technology, Government of Nigeria pointed out in their remarks the value that the government and their country has derived from the use of the Internet and mobile infrastructure to provide services that have made a difference, such as addressing women’s health issues in rural areas. Yung Kim of Korea Telecom Corporation raised several points on how the shift to ICT development has created benefits for the Korean economy.  Dr Amr Badawi, NTRA, Egypt noted the importance of being digitally connected and the value that this connection contributes to improve people’s lives.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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