Governments and industry have worked together in ITU since the earliest years of the Union. Incredibly, some of ITU’s longest-standing industry members have been participating to ITU fora without interruption since the late 1870s.
While technology continues to evolve over time – from the telegraph to telephone, radio, television, satellites, the internet, and beyond – one thing has remained constant: governments and industry collaborate together to nurture new technologies and spread them around the world.
Today, over 700 leading ICT companies participate in the work of the ITU, working together with governments, academia and other stakeholders to set international standards and best practices. This model of collaboration between governments and industry is unique in the UN system and ensures the continued relevance of the ITU in a fast-paced sector.
At ITU’s recent 150th Anniversary celebrations on 17 May 2015, long-standing Members were recognized for their contribution and commitment to the Union. Representatives of several companies emphasized the important role played by ITU in the telecommunications sector, and highlighted their growth and renewed credibility in the market since participating in ITU.
One speaker, Dr. Yasuto Hamada, Snr. Director and Chief of Engineering at NHK highlighted one of the important roles that ITU plays in defining the direction of the telecommunications industry: Standardization. He noted especially the leading role that ITU played in developing the standards of cutting edge technologies, such as the video compression standards of H.264 and H.265.
Ms. Gabriela Styf Sjöman, CTO for Telecom Italia Group, noted that ITU is about connecting people. Being part of ITU’s work in standardization is key in facilitating this connectivity, both by promoting international interoperability and enabling the sustainable development of technology. The thought and technology leadership advanced through membership to ITU, is key to developing ICTs for a better world.
This sentiment was replicated by Mr. Ulf Ewaldsson, CTO and Head of Group Function Technology at Ericsson, who highlighted that Ericsson is extremely proud and happy to have been part of ITU for many, many years. He stated that telecommunications is built on interoperability, it is built on things working together on a global scale, and ITU has a key role in this as a global standardization platform, and a space for private sector and public sector collaboration to create visions of the future of communications.
This was an opinion echoed by Dr. Robert Pepper, Global Technology Policy, Cisco Systems Inc., who declared that the future of telecommunications is about making sure that everybody on the planet is connected – and ITU has a pivotal role in helping to achieve that.
When asked about SIRTI’s participation in ITU, Mr. Stefano Lorenzi, CEO of SIRTI S.p.A, concluded that the international prominence derived from working within the ITU’s framework and contributing to ITU for more than eighty years has made SIRTI stronger and more credible to compete on the international stage.
These supportive words from our ITU members represent just some of the more than 150 C-level executives, along with more than 900 other high-ranking guests from government, academia and civil society, who joined with us to celebrate 150 years of the ITU in Geneva on May 17th.
By joining ITU, industry members have an opportunity to influence the decisions that impact their sector and their business. Members can enjoy of some of the following benefits: the opportunity to network with ICT regulators, policy-makers and experts from industry and academia; contribute to global standards and best practices; advise governments on ICT strategies and technologies; participate in and lead Study Groups on emerging issues in the ICT field; gain visibility on the international stage; share expertise and access training and specialized seminars; participate in global and regional conferences and debates; launch innovative public-private partnerships; get free access to world-leading ICT statistics, studies and information; and get discounts on ITU publications and reduced cost access to ITU Telecom World.
For some 150 years ITU has proven to be a win-win platform for governments and industry. The strength and uniqueness of ITU is its membership and I am delighted to have had a fitting opportunity to thank those who have contributed to ITU over the years. We look forward to continued collaboration with you, driving innovation to connect the world, and striving to ensure that everyone is connected to the opportunities and benefits that ICTs can bring.
By Houlin Zhao
Houlin Zhao was elected as Secretary General of the ITU at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014 in Busan, Republic of Korea, and took office on 1 January 2015. Mr. Zhao was elected ITU Deputy Secretary-General at the Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, in November 2006 and re-elected for a second four-year term in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2010. From 1999 to 2006, he served as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) with his first election at PP-98 in Minneapolis, USA and again at PP-02 in Marrakesh, Morocco. From 1986-1998, he worked at ITU headquarters, as an Engineer/Councellor. Mr Zhao graduated from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and holds an MSc in Telematics from the University of Essex in the UK.