Over 750 top ICT policy makers meet in Beirut for world’s pre-eminent global regulatory event

Converging technology landscape is reshaping markets, redefining roles of government and industry, and creating new challenges and opportunities in multi-play service provision

Beirut, 9 November 2009 – A record number of delegates from the world’s leading information and communication technology (ICT) policy makers are meeting this week in Beirut in an effort to come to grips with the pressing challenges of a fast-changing technology environment.Hosted by ITU, the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications, and Lebanon’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), under the High Patronage of the President of Lebanon, Michel Sleiman, the Global Industry Leaders Forum (GILF, 9 November) and Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR, 10-12 November) help regulators from around the world share experiences and forge common approaches to navigating today’s highly complex ICT markets.

As the lines between different types of services become increasingly blurred, ICT regulators face a huge challenge in trying to minimize market distortions arising from the different regulatory treatment of different technologies, in order that markets flourish, operators are free to adopt the most effective and advantageous technologies – and consumers get the best deal in terms of price and service quality.

The meetings, which are being held in Beirut’s Habtoor Grand Hotel Convention Centre, were opened this morning by Mr Gibran Bassil, Lebanon’s Minister of Telecommunication; ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré; Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau; Dr Saad Al Barrak, CEO of the Zain Group; and Dr Kamal Shehadi, Chairman and CEO of the TRA.

In his opening address to delegates from more than 110 countries worldwide, Dr Touré said the theme of this year’s event, ‘Hands On or Hands Off: Stimulating Growth Through Effective Regulation’, is particularly relevant in the context of the current economic crisis, when many governments are looking to the ICT sector to re-energize debilitated national economies.

“In every field of human endeavour, and in every crisis we face, ICTs are part of the solution,” he said. “ICTs are playing a pivotal role in helping us emerge from the financial crisis and in fuelling economic recovery. And ICTs are directly responsible for job creation in the Knowledge Economy.”

Mr Sami Al Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), said: “I am very proud that ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau can offer this platform for the main actors of our industry to imagine, design, build and administrate the markets, networks and services that our citizens, businesses and governments require for their further development. Today every country, no matter what its level of development, relies on ICTs for its economic and social development. The environment that enables new technologies to be used and shared by all can only be created through regulatory reform.”

Dr Saad Al Barrak, Chairman of the 2009 GILF, a one-day meeting that complements the GSR by focusing specifically on the regulatory needs of private industry, said mobile telephony has become a prerequisite for economic growth, calling mobile “one of the most powerful nation builders of our age”.

“Today, we are at a crucial juncture in the evolution of the ICT sector;” he said, “a place where regulators and policy makers must join operators on the same journey, because quite simply, our goals cannot be achieved as long as there exists a ‘Them and Us’ “.

GILF participants are encouraged to offer their views and contributions on key issues, with their input serving as the basis of the GILF Chairman’s Report, which will be presented to GSR delegates on Tuesday 10 November for their consideration.

Dr Kamal Shehadi, who is chairing this year’s Global Symposium for Regulators, reiterated the TRA’s commitment to liberalizing Lebanon’s ICT markets to inject new energy and service innovation. “TRA has made significant progress in a very short time span. It is now ready to move ahead and liberalize mobile, international, and remaining bottlenecks to broadband telecommunication services in 2010.”

Dr Shehadi praised ITU as a role model for effective public-private partnership. Unique among UN specialized agencies, ITU membership comprises not only 191 Member States, but over 700 private sector members, who play an active role in ITU’s technical standardization, spectrum management and development work.

A Media Backgrounder outlining the key issues facing GILF and GSR delegates is available on the event Newsroom. A full list of announced participants can be accessed here by accredited media. Media may formally accredit online for the event here. Journalists already accredited for the recent ITU Telecom World 2009 event in Geneva need only register to receive a new username and password.

For more information, please visit the event Newsroom, go to www.itu.int/ITU-D/partners/GILF/2009/index.html or www.itu.int/GSR09, or contact:

Sarah Parkes
ITU Media Relations
Tel: +41 22 730 6039
Mobile: +41 79 599 1439
E-mail: pressinfo@itu.int

Nathalie Boustany
TRA Lebanon
Tel: +961 3499 484
Fax: +961 1964 341
E-mail: nathalie.boustany@tra.gov.lb

Sarah Fayad
IFP Group
Tel: +961 3765 706
Fax: +961 5959 888
E-mail: sarah.fayad@ifpexpo.com

About ITU

About TRA

About TRA The TRA is an independent public institution assigned to liberalize, regulate, and develop the telecommunications sector in Lebanon. Established by Law 431 of 2002, the TRA effectively started operations upon the nomination of its board members in February 2007.

The TRA’s duties and powers include, among other areas, protecting consumers’ rights, licenses and regulations, managing radio spectrum and the overall numbering plan, monitoring the market for any abuse of dominant market power and anti-competitive practices, as well as taking remedial steps when needed and promoting effective and fair competition among existing and new licensed operators. More information can be found at www.tra.gov.lb.

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