Portugal takes over European coordination of the review of the International Telecommunication Regulations

Com-ITU, Committee of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) is responsible for preparing the European positions, ready for participation in the activities of ITU, and has charged Portugal with coordinating the process to review the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) from 1988 - this process should concluded by the end of 2012, when the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) will hold the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12).

The review of the ITR is an ongoing process that was intensified at the ITU’s last Plenipotentiary Conference, held in October 2010 in Guadalajara (Mexico). At this conference, Member States agreed that it had become crucial to revise the ITR, given the significant evolution seen in international telecommunications since 1988 and the technological advances which have led to the widespread deployment of infrastructure, services and applications based on IP protocol. It is important, therefore, to accompany and define the national position in the context of preparing for a world conference which has the aim of revising the ITR, 24 years after its adoption. The intention is to give operators of public networks, whose interconnection to the networks of other countries will be subject to the new text of the regulation, visibility with respect to the revision process.

Current positions on the issue are particularly divergent. Through the CEPT, Europe considers that the new text of the Treaty should be limited to issues of a strategic and policy nature and should not cover any technical aspects. This position is shared, in general terms, by countries such as the United States and Australia. Meanwhile, other countries and/or regions call for the text of the Treaty to be updated to regulate models of international traffic interconnection which did not exist or were incipient when the current text was adopted. Therefore some of the proposals point to the possibility of greater intervention in terms of alternative calling procedures, such as refile or call-back. In addition, certain proposals advocate the mandatory presentation of CLI (calling line identification) and traffic origin. The retail prices associated with the international roaming service is another issue that has been raised by certain countries.

It is in this situation of divergent points of view among countries/regions and a lack of certainty as to the conclusion of ongoing negotiations that Portugal has taken over European coordination of this important dossier. At the ITU, the preparatory discussions for the WCIT-12 will take place in the ITU Council Working Group, set up especially for this purpose (WG WCIT). At the Working Group’s next meeting, from 27 to 30 September, the position of vice-chair will be formally assigned to Portugal, as European coordinator.

The ITR is an international treaty agreed in 1988 and in force since 1990, which has been ratified by 178 Member States. The treaty establishes a set of general principles related to international telecommunications services, especially related to how these services are agreed between operators and service providers. As an international treaty, its provisions are binding.

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