Connectivity, collaboration, sustainability and inclusiveness were the key themes of the opening session of the high-level Leadership Summit, sponsored by TRA, UAE and moderated by Jeremy Wilks of Euronews, media partner of the Leadership Summit.
Extending connectivity - and the tremendous potential for social, economic and human development it brings - is critical. "The digital divide is very much still with us, a divide of geography and gender, of education and resources. It is imperative that we continue to work to close that digital divide," urged ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
Summarizing the challenges involved in tackling digital exclusion, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society, focused on four key pillars of acitivity, which resonated throughout the discussion: the digital economy, connectivity, cybersecurity and capacity building.
"Governments must create policies that focus on citizen empowerment, digital skills and the creation of a business environment that allows business to grow by leveraging technology," he said, citing the example of Thailand's dynamic SME and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
What extending connectivity means in practice may vary greatly. The European Commission's Digital Single Market strategy, explained Fátima Barros, Chair of Portuguese regulator ANACOM, puts digital centre stage to grow the economy within and across the region. Its ambitious new broadband targets aim for at least 100 Mbps download speed for all households, 1 Gigabit for institutions such as hospitals and universities, and full 5G wireless broadband coverage in urban areas and major transport routes by 2025.
In India, the scale and nature is somewhat different - as R. S. Sharma, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), pointed out, "45% of the unconnected are in India", and supplying basic power is often the first priority, rather than top broadband speeds. But both Europe and India face the challenges of uniting different states with different languages and at different stages of development; and the need for large-scale investment, a technology-neutral hybrid approach to networks and regulatory reform are universal.
The government's Digital India initiative will digitally empower society and transform the country, explained Sharma, through three parallel strands of development: infrastructure, including digital identity data in the cloud; software; and the services riding on top. Providing those services, whether in education, agriculture, health or any other sector, will only be possible through collaboration and partnership.
New regulatory approaches must enable open standards, software and systems to break down silos, encourage multiple technologies and ensure growth. For Barros, it is a balancing act: "The big challenge to achieving connectivity is keeping the goal of building the single market whilst sustaining competition."
The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is hosting its 3rd IPv6 Roadshow, a training course designed to prepare the UAE’s ICT sector to meet the standards of Internet Protocol Version 6.
IPv6 is the replacement protocol for IPv4, which is due to become obsolete when it runs out of new IP addresses in the coming years.
The IPv6 Roadshow, held in TRA’s Dubai office from the 24th to 28th of March 2013, will see approximately 30 technical participants from 15 UAE government entities participate in an IPV6 training program.
The focused and highly technical course is organized in coordination with RIPE Network Coordination Center (NCC), one of five regional internet registries, and is part of a range of initiatives launched by TRA to prepare the UAE’s ICT sector to adopt the latest market technologies.
“The rate of technological development we are experiencing in the UAE is nothing short of remarkable. With this in mind, it is crucial that all governmental entities are adequately trained to take advantage of the ever changing landscape of ICT,” said H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director General of the TRA.
“Building IPV6 capacities is also harmonious with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) objectives and this training program is one of the many measures put in place by the TRA to ensure the UAE maintains its position at the very forefront of ICT development,” he added.
The training program will include a virtual laboratory, allowing participants to prepare their networks and test their settings in a practical environment. It will also include important modules on IPv6 monitoring, security, access, servers and applications.
TRA’s ultimate goal through the IPv6 training is to relay the important of adopting the latest internet protocol to its participants in their networks and help to build technical capabilities to help accommodate the various applications and services.
The regulator believes the promotion of IPv6 is a key component to facilitate the enablement of IPv6 in the UAE and considers the training initiative as a means of preparing the country’s internet stakeholders for the depletion of IPv4 addresses.
The UAE IPv6 Projects aims to devise a National IPv6 policy, strategy and implementation plan followed by an implementation phase to secure the healthy levels of growth and development that have characterized the UAE’s ICT sector.
This is the third year that TRA has played host of the five day training program and the regulator also plans to roll out a series of additional training courses in the coming months.