Arab telcos discuss International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) reforms with ITU Secretary G

The Chief Executives of the region’s leading telecommunications groups converged on Dubai recently to share views on the proposed reforms to the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) with the head of the International Telecommunications Union, Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré. The meeting kicked-off the dialogue that will help to shape the Arab region’s contributions to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to be held at WCIT-12 in Dubai in December 2012.

The meeting was chaired by Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, Chief Executive Officer at the Etisalat Group who was accompanied by Mr Nasser Bin Obood, Acting CEO for Etisalat UAE. The meeting was attended by the ITU, Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré the UAE’s Director General for the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA), Mohammad Al Ghanim and its Executive Director for Spectrum Affairs, Tariq Al Awadhi. Also present were Sheikh Mohammed Bin Issa Al Khalifa, CEO of Batelco; Dr Amer Al Rawas, CEO at Omantel; Dr Nasser Marafih, CEO at QTEL; as well as Dr Fareed Al Ghayath representing Du and Mr Mohammed Zainalabedin from the Zain Group.

During the discussions, the region’s operator community congratulated the ITU on the recent successful Connect Arab Summit held in Doha, and exchanged views and concerns regarding the reforms to the existing ITRs being proposed by various countries and which will be agreed at WCIT-12.

WCIT-12 will review the global treaty widely credited for creating the basis of today’s connected world, thus the international regulatory framework governing all ICT technologies.

A number of the current member state proposals seek to change the status, scope and operations of the ITU and if adopted will have wide reaching implications not just for telecommunications companies but also with respect to sustainable long term investments in and the growth of telecommunications markets.

Mr Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar said: “The final changes to the ITRs to be adopted in December 2012 will have a long lasting and profound effect on our industry. It is therefore essential that the sector engages with state administrations in preparation for WCIT. It is a shared responsibility upon us all to ensure that the final outcome reflects the need to balance the aspirations for socio-economic development, derived from advanced communications products and services, with the requirement to maintain a legal and regulatory environment that provides suitable incentives to support and encourage long term sustainable investment.”

ITU Secretary General, Dr Touré, thanked Mr Ahmad Julfar for the opportunity to explain the preparatory procedures for the WCIT and called on private sector to participate in the process by way of contributions as established by the Plenipotentiary Resolution: “This is a multi-stakeholder process, including all Sector Members of the Union, and we should seize the opportunity.”

His Excellency Mohammed Al Ghanim assured the meeting that his team would be working tirelessly with industry to reach the optimum outcome for the UAE specifically and Arab Countries as a whole. Commenting on the process His Excellency announced “the TRA UAE team will soon be inviting all UAE stakeholders to participate in the preparatory process for WCIT; to share ideas; to understand concerns and find solutions that will protect and promote the interests of the UAE and its telecommunications markets.”

The region’s telecom operators will continue to monitor the discussions on the ITRs and will work with their respective governments to ensure that the amendments to the ITRs have a positive impact on the telecommunication and information technology industry.