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ITU Telecom Asia 2008 2-5 September 2008, Bangkok, Thailand

Session: What Public Policy for next Generation/New Values? (3 September 2008)

Statement by Rajnesh Singh, Internet Society (ISOC)

We are here today to discuss "What public policy for the next generation and new values".

Before we can really answer that, it is important to gain a perspective on who this next generation is and where they come from. My comments are from the Internet perspective, which is to a large part the present, and most certainly will be in the future, the communications medium of choice.

In the Internet world, we have some 1.4 billion users online, and we talk about getting the next billion online, and of course a couple more billion after that.

The next generation of users in existing markets will be quite different from the first couple of generations. In the early days we had the first round of Internet users, who were predominantly from the technical and academic community. We then had subsequent generations who were either forced to adopt new technologies, or got caught in the emerging Information age, and saw this as the way of the future. The next generation, however, will be much more technology savvy, and will expect things like dynamic interactive content, and feature-rich applications as the norm. The need for speed will be far more important to them then any of the preceeding generation, as will be cheaper costs to access the Internet.

Similarly, the new generation of users from the next billion will enter the Internet world as it exists today, and will expect things to work as they have heard or read about. Perhaps a large number of these users may not be as technology savvy, but more likely than not, will want to access content as available in more developed Internet markets. Voice over IP, video and new and emerging web technologies will feature prominently in the range of services they want to access. As in existing markets, the need for speed will also be an important factor, and equally important will be the costs associated with accessing the Internet at a reasonable, and affordable, price.

Where does this leave us then?

It leaves us with a bit of a challenge. There will be a need to ensure policy actions are in line with the next generation of user needs and demands. With the continued evolution of Internet technologies, the lines between voice, data and video will blur even more. This will provide challenges to a large spectrum of regulatory issues – is it going to be about regulating voice, regulating data services, regulating broadcast services? How do we treat a hybrid model of service delivery and consumption?

There will be more pressure on service providers to deliver their services, and the need for greater bandwidth and richer applications will be high on the wish list of users. More than ever before, the Internet will be the communications medium of choice.

This means that things like Internet security and stability, trust and identity, and the users ability to choose will be critical to the continued expansion and evolution of the Internet. When deliberating public policy issues, it will be important to also consider the user perspective. Any consultations should ideally be open, transparent, and multi-stakeholder in nature, listening to the concerns and issues of, amongst others, users and service providers alike.

This will be an important part of the enabling framework necessary to ensure the continued evolution of today's modern communications systems. And more importantly, it will ensure that the Internet and all it brings us, from cost savings to new technologies to new and innovative ways of doing old things, will be available for us to use individually and collectively in the manner in which we have come to enjoy and love.