Bahrain welcomed more than 650 high-level international delegates from the world’s information and communication technology (ICT) regulatory authorities, who will spend the week debating the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow’s increasingly interconnected digital environment.
The world’s largest specialized gathering of ICT policy makers, ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) aims to stimulate debate, knowledge sharing and exchange of best practice among regulators, industry leaders, government policy analysts and other key ICT stakeholders.
Hosted by the Government of Bahrain under the patronage of Prime Minister HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the event is taking place at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain from 3-5 June. Discussions will focus around ‘Capitalizing on the Potential of the Digital World’, and feature key topics including Big Data; consumer empowerment; strategies to stimulate ICT market competition and meet growing demand for network capacity; emerging digital business models such as OTT and cloud services; and innovative radio spectrum management trends.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Bahrain is partnering with ITU to host the symposium, which is officially chaired by TRA Chairman Dr Mohammed Ahmed Alamer. This morning’s opening ceremony welcomed a great many distinguished guests, including HH Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Premier of Bahrain, H.E. Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of State for Telecommunications Affairs, and ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.
In his opening address to GSR-14 delegates, Dr Touré said the digital ecosystem has re-drawn the business boundaries and paved the way for a wealth of fresh and innovative ideas. “In this new business landscape, how can we ensure that both consumers and businesses benefit from the opportunities of living in a digital society? How can we respond to their need for a secure, reliable and trustworthy ecosystem, while fostering a positive investment climate that will ensure we can finance tomorrow’s infrastructure rollout?” he asked.
The symposium’s Opening Debate, Redefining Responsibilities in a Data-Driven Digital World, featured top-name speakers including TRA’s Mohammed Alamer; Bocar Ba, Chief Executive Officer, Samena Telecommunications Council; Magdalena Gaj, President of the Office of Electronic Communications of Poland and GSR-13 Chair; Gabrielle Gauthey, President, Global Government Sector, Alcatel-Lucent; and Lin Mombo, President of the Regulatory Board of the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Eléctroniques et des Postes (ARCEP), Gabon. The debate was moderated by Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), which organizes the symposium every year as a service to ITU’s public and private sector members.
“Users today increasingly have to deal with new issues brought about by new technologies, new devices, new online services and applications which affect consumer behaviour. In a globalized, interconnected and increasingly complex environment, consumer education and empowerment are critical for users to fully benefit from the potential of the digital world,” Mr Sanou said.
This year’s symposium comes at a time of enormous transition for the ICT sector. Sharp increases in data flows resulting from the rapid development of new services and applications such as cloud computing, coupled with always-on, ubiquitous ICT networks, are challenging traditional regulatory approaches.
In his opening address, GSR-14 Chair Mohammed Alamer said: “We are gathered here to examine ways of ensuring that the full array of benefits of the digital world is brought to all citizens in an informed, responsive and safe manner. This can only be achieved through effective and smart regulation targeted at empowering consumers, redefining responsibilities, and creating the conditions for a data-driven economy to flourish. Here in Bahrain we are very much in favour of ‘light touch’ regulation, with market dynamics shaping the telecoms industry, and the competition within it.”
GSR-14 continues until Thursday 5 June, culminating in a series of regulatory Best Practice Guidelines. Outputs from the meeting will also be incorporated into ITU’s annual regulatory report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform.
The essential voice of industry is brought in through the Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue (GRID), where both public and private sector participants have the chance to debate pressing challenges, such as how to best meet exponential demand for capacity and high-speed connectivity.
In addition, a special dedicated meeting of private sector Chief Regulatory Officers, held just prior to the opening of the GSR, is designed to facilitate discussion and information sharing among telecommunication service and technology companies, and frame debate during the symposium itself.
The Pre-event Programme on 2 June opened with an ITU Workshop on White Spaces and Dynamic Spectrum Access focused around opportunities and challenges linked to new approaches to spectrum management
ITU also hosted a special meeting of Regulatory Associations, where delegates had the opportunity for discussion, information exchange and bridge-building to promote better and more active cooperation between Regulatory Associations around the world.
In addition, the programme featured a special seminar on “Satellite Communications Spectrum: Assessing User Needs for Connectivity”, co-organized by the Global VSAT Forum and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO).
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