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ITU should 'leave Net regulation to stakeholders'

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) should focus on telephony as its core task and not expand its scope to regulate the Internet, a key telecom gathering was told this week. The ITU should allow the Internet to be regulated by multiple stakeholders, as it has done for more than two decades, as such an approach has driven rapid Internet growth, has changed the way people communicate and continues to bring down the barriers to access to the world's information and knowledge.

David Gross, chairman of the Ad Hoc World Conference on Inter-national Telecommunications 2012 Working Group, made these comments at the fourth Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) Preparatory Meeting for the 2012 World Conference on International Tele-communications (WCIT-12).

The three-day meeting, held in Bangkok, concluded yesterday.

The objectives of the meeting included discussion and finalisation of preliminary APT common proposals for WCIT-12, discussion on coordination arrangements related to the conference and review of the preparations made by other regional organisations and the ITU Council Working Group on WCIT-12.

The ITU will convene the World Conference on International Tele-communications in Dubai from December 3-14.

The conference will review the current international telecommunications regulations, which serve as the binding global treaty outlining the principles governing the way international voice, data and video traffic is handled, and which lay the foundation for ongoing innovation and market growth. The regulations were last negotiated in 1988, and there is broad consensus that the text now needs to be updated to reflect the dramatically different information and communication technology landscape of the 21st century, Gross said.

There is consensus that the regulations must be adapted to match a rapidly changing world. The government and private sectors will play complementary but distinct roles, he said.

Governments establish regulatory frameworks, while the private sector provides the investment. Together, this will ensure that infrastructure is built for the benefit of consumers and the information and communications technology sector as a whole, he added.

The proposed changes and additions to the regulations include the human right of access to communications, security in the use of ICT, protection of critical national resources, international frameworks, charging and accounting including taxation, interconnection and interoperability, quality of service, and convergence.

Gross said the Internet had grown dramatically under multiple-stakeholder regulation, and this had driven many countries' development in economic, social and political terms.

"The control of the Internet is a very sensitive issue, which is why the meeting in December is a very important event, since it will talk about the future of the Internet and will be a place where 15 multinational carriers and Internet-related companies such as AT&T, Google, Amazon and Cisco come to brainstorm on this matter.

"It should not be for the ITU to roll out the rules to regulate countries' governments around the world. It should let the governments in each country listen to their stakeholders," he said.


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