Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My notes on the report on the GILF 2009.

Dr. Saad Al Barrak CEOof ZAIN was the chairman for yesterdays GILF and he reports back on the forum. I just heard that he became chairman because he has a tendency to ask difficult questions and be direct. Chairman's have to be polite ;-) There are BTW over 900 registered attendants

Some of the results were:

With regards to the Financial Crisis there needs to be investment in broadband for economic recovery and growth. Need for predictable stable regulation. Harmonisation of regulatory frmaeworks regionally, where beneficial. Leverage harmonized radio-frequency spectrum and refarm it as there are many places where the military has too much spectrum and some other entities think they have divine rights on spectrum. Which is an outdated concept belonging in the 18th century. He also asks for light touch regulation and not too heavy handed taxation as some regulators even tax when someone sneezes.

Universal Access. USF is good concept. need more industry role in implementation. Also need to release funds for network roll-out. Technological neutrality - allow investors to choose to reach under/unserved populations. To be very specific or technology biased. Regulators shouldn't copy the mistakes of mobile companies. Mobile companies for a long time forgot they were a service company and not a technological engineering firm, where the customer wasn't at the center. And of course Sustainable business models are needed.

On IP/Telecom Convergence: Need long term horizon view. Set aside significant spectum to support future growth convergence and new services. Experiment with innovation zones of spectrum to test new technologies and approaches. Lighter regulation and flexibility to allow for tech/market evolution. Avoid prescribing specific buisness model. ITU needs to assist member with spectrum, including with white spaces.

Conclusions:  Industry ready and willing to work with regulators and ministries. Seeking collaborative engagement, identify areas of common interests. In Zain we say that collaboration is like a romance. We need to have a romantic relation with our regulators. The aim is for a very vibrant sector to help connect the unconnected.

 There are some remarks from the room. I'll try not to identify the speakers.
A gentleman from south Asia uses quite alot of time to say not too much except that we need investment in underserved areas. A gentleman from the middle east seems not to be to much in agreement with some of the conclusions. Another gentleman from the middle east asks for more coopetition between companies. Another gentleman doesn't want to subsidize as it doesn't enable people to become more capable themselves. It has a parasitic effect in the long term. A representative of a big telco in the Middle East talks about the need for regulation but also a need for some regulators to back off. He says he won't name which regulators because he wants to remain good friends. The Chair of the Lebanese Regulators who is chairing, mr. Kamal Shedadi, says he sees the best regulator as one that doesn't need to be too visible, but that is also dependent upon the companies playing by the rules. This also goes for mobile companies who once were new entrants, but now act like incumbents. The president of one of the largest Sub Saharan African telco's talks about how mobile are the new competitors and then quickly questions whether it is good to local loop unbundling as the mobile operators don't need to unbundle.

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