THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT ____________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 22, 1994
Remarks (as delivered) by Vice President Al Gore via satellite to the International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference Kyoto, Japan
Dr. Tarjanne, Mr. Utsumi, distinguished ministers and delegates, ladies and gentlemen:
When I last spoke to the ITU in March, I traveled 8,000 kilometers from the White House to Buenos Aires. Today, I am traveling an even greater distance by way of satellite.
This is, of course, no substitute for being there in person, sharing with you Kyoto's 1200th birthday and the beauty of the city's palaces, temples and gardens. It's been said that Kyoto embodies the spirit of old Japan, where ancient arts and crafts -- textile weaving, ceramics, and Kimono -- live on. But it is also a city that is looking to the future. And it is appropriate that I'm able to send my message to you today in this way, simultaneously showing the promise of technology and the Global Information Infrastructure, or GII.
The effort to build the GII provides us with an opportunity to reach beyond ideology to forge a common goal of providing an infrastructure that will benefit all the citizens of our nations. We will use this infrastructure to help our respective economies and to promote health, education, environmental protection and democracy.
Government has an indisputable and appropriate role to play in developing the GII. By reducing regulatory barriers and promoting private sector involvement, by identifying the public interests that must be served, and by aggressively using the GII to provide education, health care and other public services, governments can play a key role in developing the GII in cooperation with industry and others in the private sector.
In Buenos Aires, you adopted five principles for a GII which the nations of the world have been putting into practice: Private investment. Market-driven competition. Flexible regulatory systems. Non-discriminatory access. And universal service.
On every continent, you can see these principles in action:
In Pakistan, the government is selling shares to the public of the Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation, thereby promoting private investment and contributing to economic growth. In the Russian Federation, there are now 80 privatized telecom companies operating in that country's 86 regions. And there are another 26 independent operators providing international telephone and data transmission services. This not only serves the goals of investment and competition, but also improves access to information services and promotes the lifeblood of democracy -- freedom of communication. More competition is now possible in the Philippines as a result of broadened access to international communications satellites. In the Americas, CITEL is implementing the Acapulco Declaration to promote telecommunications and contribute to the overall development of the region. Chile has implemented a regulatory framework to encourage private investment, promote competition, and protect against monopoly. The telecommunications ministry there expects these reforms to increase service from 7 lines per 100 people in 1987 to more than 20 lines per 100 people. Mexico is gaining access to new technologies and attracting substantial new foreign investment by protecting intellectual property rights. On other continents, regulatory reform and increases in
the number of service providers are increasing access to, and the value of, the telecommunications infrastructure.
For instance, Tanzania is establishing a regulatory body independent of the communications provider. Australia has amended its telecommunications act to allow carriers to provide flexible pricing packages to consumers. China has established China Unicom, a second telecom network that will provide new services and increased access to communications networks. The African Green Paper provides technical advice and policy guidance for improving telecommunications. These are only a few specific examples of a powerful,
worldwide trend in implementing each of the five principles.
Industry's contributions have been equally important to promoting these principles and creating a GII. Daily we read stories of new investments, new products, new leaps into the future of telecommunications at a cost to industry of billions of dollars. Clearly industry believes there is a big future for the GII.
The U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute, formed as a result of the 1982 Nairobi Plenipot, now offers courses on mobile communications in Spanish and English on wireless communications and spectrum management and on telecommunications planning and economic decision-making.
U.S. companies are also providing needed expertise directly to countries that need it most.
One U.S. company offers a seminar to developing nations on effective spectrum management practices. Another recently provided technical and managerial expertise to managers at Telmex to facilitate privatization in Mexico. And yet another sponsors Master's degree-level Chinese students to attend the University of Michigan for an executive training program. But as promising as these developments are, we cannot
afford to be complacent and assume that this revolution will produce all the benefits we desire without diligent effort.
For our part, the United States is willing to demonstrate its commitment by broadening our efforts in regulatory and technical cooperation. For governments examining their legal, regulatory, institutional and economic frameworks that affect telecommunications, we stand ready to offer our experience and learning.
To make the GII a reality, it will take the combined efforts of every member nation of the ITU -- and of businesses and consumers in all of our nations.
Our businesses and our citizens are demanding advanced information technology so that local businesses can succeed in worldwide competition; so that electronic commerce can bring customers and suppliers closer together; so that citizens can be educated. This demand cannot be ignored. Rather, it is our duty to open markets, so that competition can meet this growing and evolving demand.
In the coming months, we will have several other opportunities to work together to create a GII.
Members of APEC and the OECD will gather in Vancouver in February to address the cross-border issues affecting the development of a GII. At the Summit of the Americas in Miami in December, Western Hemisphere leaders will have the opportunity to focus on telecommunications and information infrastructure issues. The European Union will host the G-7 Ministers next year in Brussels. This conference will also address common issues in developing national and global information infrastructures. All of these meetings will provide opportunities for
the nations of the world to come together to reach our goal of creating a GII.
We must work together to create incentives for and to involve all sectors of society, from telecommunications to information technology, from R&D facilities to libraries, and from the medical community to the world of the arts. We all have a stake in the future of the Global Information Infrastructure, so we all must work together to make it a reality.
And we must work together as governments to redefine our roles in the telecommunications industry -- new and innovative roles as facilitators of private investment and competition, guardians of the public interest, and champions of the free flow of information.
When we meet again at the Plenipotentiary in 1998, we will have an opportunity to reflect on our progress in the interim years and to renew our commitment to this important task.
That is why I am extremely pleased this morning -- this morning in Kyoto -- to invite the next Plenipotentiary Conference of the ITU to be held in the United States. It would be a great privilege and honor for us to host you in our nation.
When the Plenipotentiary was last held in the United States, it was 1947.
It was a year of great political change -- the Marshall Plan -- the transition to the post-World War II world. It was also the year that inventors at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey invented the transistor, which made possible the development of products from the transistor radio to the home computer, all at a cost which made them available to the mass market.
And what do we see occurring by 1998?
We see the establishment of myriad networks around the globe through which technology is harnessed to create a vast flow of data and information that will enable and support applications that serve people in all aspects of their daily lives.
One speaker at a recent Internet Society meeting marveled at the inexorable growth of the global telecommunications network. As an example he pointed to one of the many services available over the Internet -- the World Wide Web. "We are now watching a global internetworking revolution scale in near real-time," he said. "Every thirty minutes, another network connects."
Well, these networks of the GII will not be ends in themselves. The benefits that will come from the use of these networks will be what is important.
It is my fervent hope that when we reassemble in the United States at the next Plenipotentiary Conference in four years, our common journey toward a Global Information Infrastructure will have advanced many light years.
As we welcome the nations of the ITU to our country in four years, so we welcome the challenge of working with you to help construct the Global Information Infrastructure, one that advances the well-being of all humankind.
Congratulations on the work you have under way. We look forward to seeing you here in four years.