Call to connect the unconnected by 2015

Doha, 6 March 2006 — The World Telecommunication Development Conference 2006 opens in Doha, Qatar, tomorrow with a call to connect all communities by 2015.

This follows a key decision of the World Summit on the Information Society, which concluded last November in Tunis, to ensure that all villages, schools, libraries and local governments will be connected to information and communication technologies (ICT) by 2015.

The Doha meeting is the first major world development conference of the year, and the first gathering of experts to focus on the implementation of the road map laid out by world leaders at the World Summit on the Information Society, which concluded last November in Tunis.

Doha Action Plan to meet the goals of development

At a Press conference on the eve of the opening, Roberto Blois, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stated, «In order to reach the WSIS goal of connecting all communities, we have to tailor the potential of technology to the needs of humanity, especially remote communities and vulnerable sections of the population.» He added that it would be necessary to develop low-cost rural telecommunication systems and make broadband and wireless telephony more accessible and affordable. Mr Blois said, «In keeping with these overall objectives, the WTDC-06 Doha Action Plan will consider two new global initiatives intended to benefit persons with disabilities, and promote telecommunications for use during emergencies and for disaster prevention and mitigation.»

Promoting Global Cybersecurity

Director of the ITU Development Bureau (BDT) Hamadoun Touré said that some of the major technological challenges include building broadband and wireless networks, the evolution of next generation networks and the convergence of computing power and radio-spectrum management.

Looking at future trends, Hamadoun Touré said, «New technological developments bring new challenges, such as enabling universal access to ICT, as well as growing difficulties created by spam and the increasing threats to the security of ICT-based infrastructure and systems.» He added, «WTDC will develop a blueprint for these new challenges».

The World Summit on the Information Society endorsed ITU’s role in ensuring security in the use of ICT. «Cybersecurity is critical in the use and development of ICT,» said ITU Deputy Secretary-General Roberto Blois. «With the exponential growth in the use of cyberspace for mission-critical services, the fight against cybercrime has become a necessity.»

In today’s interconnected and increasingly networked world, societies are vulnerable to a wide variety of threats, including deliberate attacks on critical information infrastructures with debilitating effects on our economies and on our societies. In order to safeguard ICT systems and infrastructure and in order to instil confidence in online trade, commerce, banking, telemedicine, e-government and a host of other applications, it has become vital to develop a global culture of cybersecurity.

«Unless these security and trust issues are addressed, the benefits of the Information Society to governments, businesses and citizens cannot be fully realized», said Blois.

Two Essential Reports Launched in Doha

Telecommunication/ICT Development Report: Measuring ICT for Social and Economic Development

One of the two key reports on ICT launched today in Doha on the occasion of the World Telecommunication Development Conference — World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report 2006 on Measuring ICT for Social and Economic Development — examines current trends and developments in the telecommunication/ICT sector and highlights the importance of ICT for development.

In a presentation to the Press, Vanessa Gray, Telecommunication Analyst at ITU said that the telecommunication industry has experienced continuous growth as well as rapid progress in policy and technological development, resulting in an increasingly competitive and networked world.

«There are now more ICT users worldwide and more people communicating than at any other time in history,» said Gray. «By the end of 2004, the world counted a total of 3 billion telephone subscribers, 1.8 billion mobile subscribers and 1.2 billion fixed lines. Both the number of mobile subscribers and the number of internet users more than doubled in just four years. The world had over 840 million internet users, which means that on average 13 per cent of the world’s population was online.»

Overall, the digital divide has been reduced. «Our statistics show that within four year, from 2000 to 2004, the gap separating the developing and the developed countries has been shrinking in terms of mobile subscribers, fixed telephone lines and Internet users», said Gray. The gap (or digital divide) is measured by dividing the ICT penetration rate in the developed world by the ICT penetration rate in the developing world. «Phenomenal growth rates in the mobile sector, particularly, have been able to reduce the gap from 9 in the year 2000, to 4 by the end of 2004. This gap has also been reduced in terms of fixed lines, from 6 to 4 in four years, and from 15 to 8 in terms of Internet users», Gray explains.

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