9th Global Symposium for Regulators - Beirut
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Title: "9th Global Symposium for Regulators - Beirut"
The ninth Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) was held last 10-12 November in Beirut, Lebanon. This International Telecommunication Union (ITU) event was first held in 2000 and aims to gather regulators and policy-makers from developed and developing countries to foster the sharing of ideas and experience on major current issues affecting the sector.
The ninth GSR basically focused on convergence challenges and the regulator’s role during a period of change in the information and communications technologies (ICTs) sector, driven by technological, regulatory and market developments. The event was attended by 648 participants and 89 member States and was split into eight thematic panels that considered topics such as the creation of an investment-friendly environment, IP interconnectivity, consumer defence, universal access, mobile termination tariff regulation and VoIP.
At one of the sessions new challenges for regulators were discussed. It was concluded that regulatory bodies should seek and apply stable regulatory policies, and also implement some principles that encourage market changes, namely a good competition policy and innovation-oriented regulation.
Also considered was the financial crisis’s impact on regulation. It was concluded that the financial crisis does not affect what is understood as being ‘good regulation’. Some pro-active approaches should nevertheless be taken to protect against the affects of reduced liquidity in global markets. It will also be useful to opt for a combined strategy that on the one hand considers the way governments and regulatory authorities can grant financial support to the private sector through public/private partnerships and, on the other, efficient regulatory strategies and policies.
Regarding universal access, the need for a change of policies was mentioned, as telephone and broadband are nowadays deemed a basic service on a par with water, electricity and others. The participants also agreed that connection to ICTs is a vital factor for boosting a community’s social and economic development.
Also discussed was the controversial issue of mobile termination regulation. Three main reasons were given for such regulation to exist: the promotion of interconnectivity, control of market power and co-ordination of interoperability. At the end of the GSR session a set of best practices was approved, based on discussions held at the symposium and prior contributions from member States. Portugal was especially active in drawing up this document. The best practices aim to identify innovative regulatory approaches suitable for a world undergoing convergence in order to strengthen the bases for a global Information Society.
The Global Industry Leaders Forum (GILF) was held on the day before the GSR and meant to serve as a forum for high level debate, to share experience and work out proposals on regulatory issues affecting business and the sector in general, thus fostering interactive debate between industry and regulators/policy-makers. The 2009 GILF paid special attention to the stimulation of investment during a period of worldwide economic recession, to the universal service approaches needed and to essential regulation issues involving IP convergence and telecommunications.
ICT - Information and Communication Technologies: Generic term sometimes applied to the set of technologies which support information and communication systems.
IP - Internet Protocol: Switching protocol of data packets to route and send information over the Internet.
Telecommunications: Transmission, reception or emission of signals representing symbols, writing, images, sounds of information of any nature by wires, optic systems, radio electric means, and other electromagnetic systems. Classified as public use telecommunications - destined for the general public and private telecommunications - destined for own use or a restricted number of users. Public use and private use telecommunications are subdivided into addressed telecommunications - those in which the information is only sent to one or more pre-determined destinations through addressing, there may or may not be bi-directionality - and broadcast or telebroadcast telecommunications - which are made in only one direction, simultaneously to various points of reception without prior addressing.
US - Universal Service: In portuguese, Serviço Universal (SU). In general terms, universal service (US) is taken as meaning the minimum set of services of a specified quality which is available to all users at an affordable price.
VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol: Voice over Internet Protocol - Consists of converting analogue voice packages into digital packages and making them travel on the Internet.
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