ITU PP-14 Day 1: WiFi blackout – A sign of things to come?

By on 21 Oct 2014

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Somewhat ominously, the WiFi network was turned off and all mobile phone services were jammed for the duration of the Opening Ceremony of the International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary (ITU PP-14).

The black-out was in the name of security, due mostly to the fact that the Republic of Korea President, Her Excellency Geun-hye Park attended, along with a list of other senior VIPs.

The irony and opportunity was not missed by the Russian delegation, which noted the blackout in its policy statement, pointing out it was not a multistakeholder decision, yet nobody questioned the blackout as a sovereign right of our host.

Russia’s statement was a direct call for the United Nations, in particular the ITU, to take control of the Internet so that the State could “regain sovereignty” over the Internet under the auspices of the United Nations and the ITU.

Many other Policy Statements were more positive. Quatar noted they will launch IPv6 nationwide in 2016. Other, such as Jordan, called for delegates (including Sector Members) to collaborate and create harmonized policies for the benefit of all. Poland spoke of the great advances it has made in making the Internet available to its citizens and how it is “now the biggest broadband construction site in Europe”.

Speaking at what will be his last Plenipot as Secretary General, having reached his term limit, Touré noted the significant growth in access to communications technology, saying as an example, that when he came to office eight years ago, there were 2.7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, while today there are 6.9 billion, with around 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.

Touré said that for the next three weeks, Busan would be the ICT capital of the world and he commended the people of the Republic of Korea for their contribution to ICT and for their efforts to stage the conference.

He asked the audience to consider what sort of history they would want for their grandchildren to read about this meeting.

In a move designed to stave off the type of criticism I mentioned in this post, the Heads of Delegation agreed to make all input and output documents open to the public without restriction. If you are interested, they are available here.

The Plenary sessions are also webcast and captioned.


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