8:36 p.m.
Saturday, 18 November 2017

World Conference on International Telecommunications Opens in Dubai

Dubai.- After months of preparations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) officially convened the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, bringing together some 2,000 delegates representing roughly 160 member states, civil society, and industry members from around the world.

The delegates have gathered to review and potentially revise a global treaty, known as the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), which governs the routing and termination of telecommunications traffic among the world’s nations. The ITRs have not been revised since 1988 – an era preceding the growth of mobile and Internet services around the globe. The WCIT will continue through December 14.

The United States has brought a delegation of more than 120 government and private sector experts to the WCIT, reflecting a broad range of expertise and participation in preparations for the Conference. U.S. proposals for the WCIT have emphasized the need to preserve the ITRs as a high-level treaty, with minimal revisions to its scope and changes to reflect the liberalization of the international telecommunications market.

During a plenary session today, the U.S. proposed establishing a high-level working group at the outset of the conference to resolve issues over the scope of the treaty. In particular, the U.S. has proposed continuing to apply the ITRs only to “recognized operating agencies,” which are those entities providing telecommunications services to the public. This would avoid broadening the scope of the treaty to include private networks, data processing and other activities. Ambassador Terry Kramer, head of delegation for the U.S., said that clarity in defining whom the treaty applies to will help pave the way for discussions on other issues at the WCIT.

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