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Global Policy Shifts, Local Implications

At PTC’21, I moderated a panel on Global Policy Shifts, Local Implications with world leaders and national regulators, including from both industry and government. All agreed that the pandemic had finally made policymakers across all sectors realize the essential nature of broadband connectivity for citizens’ participation in society. Connectivity is cool (again), they agreed.

Panelists included the director of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who the United States government has recently endorsed in her candidacy to head the ITU, taking over from China’s Houlin Zhao. If successful next year, she would be the first woman secretary-general in the ITU’s century-and-a-half history, let alone the first American secretary-general.

Other panelists, including Facebook’s Head of Global Connectivity Policy and Planning Bob Pepper and Montenegro’s Ambassador to the U.N. Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic, agreed with Bogdan-Martin that ICT is now recognized to be critical for achieving all of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Facebook’s Pepper underscored the need for accessible diagnostics to understand not just where, but why half of the world’s population remains unconnected. He noted that for most of the developing world, connectivity will come through a wireless Internet connection, and that policies must be supported to make such access more affordable. He pointed the audience to the work done by the Alliance for Affordable Internet.

Pejanovic-Djurisic informed the panel that not just the ITU but the U.N. General Assembly has been focusing on digital transformation, and with lessons learned from the pandemic, will issue a better informed resolution later this year on leveraging emerging technologies.

Takuo Imagawa, the director-general of Japan’s telecom Ministry Business Department, shared his department’s focus on digitization and digitalization (DX) under the leadership of a new Japanese prime minister. DX has been increasing exponentially during the pandemic. Imagawa shared the fascinating data point that people leaving urban centers during COVID-19 is happening in Japan as much as elsewhere.

Watch the Global Policy Shifts, Local Implications panel on PTC-TV for a look at the ground-breaking candidate running to head the ITU as well as learn about some of the plans to connect 3.7 billion of the world’s population who today still lack Internet connectivity through enhanced focus on digital infrastructure.

Interested in participating on a panel at next year’s Annual Conference? Take a look at the PTC’22: Reunite. Rethink. Renew. Call for Participation and plan to join us in Honolulu from 16 to 19 January 2022.