Unesco Archives — LIRNEasia

I keep telling people that I (and the people associated with reforms in South Asia in the late 1990s) had no expectation that we would achieve the levels of voice and data connectivity that we have now achieved. But here is the proof, from a piece I gave to UNESCO while still Director General of Telecommunications back in 1999. In most countries of the South, basic telecommunication connectivity is still a distant goal, leave alone the advanced Internet infrastructure that provides the basis for electronic commerce. Electronic transactions between companies and organizations, particularly those involved in worldwide commercial relationships, do take place within the context of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). However, these closed user systems do not fall within the commonly understood meaning of electronic commerce that involves transactions with consumers in an open system such as the Internet.
Even when one disagrees with a speaker, one can learn from the engagement. I enjoyed myself at the talk given by Futurist Gerd Leonhard at ITU Telecom World, partly because I was actively engaging his stream of consciousness by tweeting. One thing I agreed fully with was his emphasis on trust: As the tweet said: “If you are in ICT Business & don’t have trust, you will be out of business in 5 yrs. Futurist at #ituworld” This caused me to dig through some old writing. Here is what wrote back in 1999 in a UNESCO publication: The overall environment of a society has an impact on how its members approach electronic commerce.
Bangladesh took a giant leap in terms of redefining broadband from 128 Kbps to 1 Mbps at the end of last year. Such politically motivated administrative intervention has, however, failed to improve its abysmal broadband profile in the region. The Broadband Commission, in conjunction with ITU and UNESCO, has published the “State of Broadband 2013: Universalizing Broadband” report on September 21, 2013. Various indicators of broadband covering 194 countries until the end of 2012 have been captured in this publication. It shows that Bangladesh ranks 161 with 6.
One of the great ironies of the present discourse on Internet/broadband is the appointment of Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s richest man and possibly the single most significant barrier to greater Internet access in Latin America, to serve as the Co-Chair of the ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission. It is widely recognized that Telmex exerts significant market power to keep prices up, users out, and its profits high. I co-authored a few pieces on Mexico’s early reforms in the 1990s so I have some knowledge of the subject. Now the government has set its sights on telecoms. According to Aurelio Nuño, the president’s chief of staff, within two months the PRI will present a bill to attack the “great problem of concentration” in telephony, internet and television.

UNESCO warns ITU on regulating Internet

Posted on November 18, 2012  /  0 Comments

UNESCO and ITU have formed the Broadband Commission. Now in an unprecedented intervention the UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Professor Guy Berger, has warned ITU that the amended ITR will not only “threaten freedom of expression” but may also “incur extensive public criticism that could impact upon the UN more broadly.” In his letter to the Secretary-General of the ITU, Dr Hamdoun Touré, Professor Berger points at Article 5A.4 of the new ITRs which says that member states must “ensure unrestricted public access to international telecommunication services and the unrestricted use of international telecommunications, except in cases where international telecommunication services are used for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs or undermining the sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and public safety of other States, or to divulge information of a sensitive nature.” Professor Berger has voiced UNESCO’s concern about the words “information of a sensitive nature”, arguing that this designates a new criterion for limiting access to services that was not recognized in the older rules.
Today is World Press Freedom Day, archaically named by UNESCO, an archaic organization. I was invited as one of the speakers by the Sri Lanka Press Institute for their event commemorating the World Press Freedom Day. I talked about ICTs and the Arab Spring. The most interesting part of the discussion was the attempt by various speakers to define new media. The moderator thought that LBO.