The ITU Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-23) was held from 5-8 June 2023 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, held under the theme “Regulation for a sustainable digital future.”
Since 2000, the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) has convened heads of telecom/ICT regulatory authorities from different countries to discuss and exchange their expertise and insights on the most pressing regulatory issues. GSR fosters global conversations on the challenges to regulators and policymakers brought about by the digital transformation of markets and societies.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the GSR Best Practice Guidelines, a set of regulatory best practice guidelines adopted by regulators at conclusion of GSR. The participating regulators have collectively contributed, identified, and endorsed the GSR-23 Best Practice Guidelines to continue moving toward an inclusive and sustainable digital future.
Broadband Commissioners and Leaders at GSR-23
This year, GSR-23 brought together leadership from governments, regulators, policymakers, industry leaders, and other key stakeholders in the ICT field to express their perspectives on significant challenges within the ICT sector.
The Secretary-General of ITU and Co-Vice Chair of the Commission, Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin along with several Broadband Commissioners were present including:
- Baroness Beeban Kidron, Chair of the 5Rights Foundation
- H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Tamimi, Governor of the Communications, Space and Technology Commission (CST) in Saudi Arabia
- H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, Director General of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) in the UAE
- Mr. Bocar Ba, CEO of Samena Telecommunications Council
- Mr. Piotr Dmochowski Lipski, Executive Secretary of EUTELSAT IGO
Additionally, representatives from commissioner-led organizations such as GSMA, Intelsat, Huawei, MTN Group, and Nokia were also present and contributed to the discussions at the Symposium.
GSR-23 DAY ONE
- The Industry Advisory Group on Development Issues and Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officers’ (IAGDI-CRO) meeting was moderated by Commissioner, Mr. Bocar Ba and featured speakers from MTN Group and GSMA.
- The Heads of Regulators’ Executive Roundtable was held with Commissioners H.E. Dr Mohammed Al Tamimi and H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar as interveners.
- The Regional Regulatory Associations Meeting commenced with Opening remarks of H.E. Dr Mohammed Al Tamimi.
GSR-23 DAY TWO
At the Opening Ceremony, ITU Secretary-General and Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission, Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin‘s opening speech addressed the question “What can regulators do to build a sustainable digital future for all, before it’s too late?” She offered the following three thoughts:
- First – tech won’t wait. Regulators need to move faster.
- Second – humans and nature are one and the same. Technology is a means, not an end.
- And third – international, regional, and inter-governmental collaboration and cooperation are paramount.
At the end of her speech, ITU Secretary-General stated, “We won’t stop until we can bridge every last silo in national institutions and policy implementation – and until every country has harnessed the full potential of digital”. (Ms. Bogdan-Martin further extended her remarks in an article titled “GSR-23: A defining moment for digital regulators.”)
- Participating as a panelist on the Leadership Segment: How can policy and regulatory innovation drive universal and meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation?, Broadband Commissioner H.E. Dr Mohammed Al Tamimi, offered his remarks on affordability. He stated that “Of the 2.7 billion unconnected people, 14% are due to unavailability of network, a few due to skills shortage but the majority are due unaffordability” He then called on the global community “to analyze and solve the affordability issue”.
- Leaders from GSMA contributed to the “Spectrum for Tomorrow” session which explored the impact of fast-evolving technologies, high-speed low latency network requirements, changing consumer behaviors and new market realities on spectrum needs and spectrum management options.
GSR-23 DAY THREE & FOUR
- The “Network of in the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)” session was held with opening remarks by Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin. The network provides women delegates at the GSR, the opportunity to exchange views on developing gender mainstreamed policies through interactions between ministries and regulatory entities in the ICT sector.
- Baroness Beeban Kidron attended as keynote speaker the session titled “How to Protect Children and Youth Online?”. This session discussed concrete examples of policy, regulatory and technical approaches stakeholders can take to ensure child and youth online safety.
- The “Industry Fireside Chat: Partners in Digital Transformation” session was moderated by Commissioner Mr. Bocar Ba and attended by representatives of Broadband Commissioners from Intelsat and Huawei. The session discussed what partnerships for Digital Transformation look like in 2050 and whether these new forms of Partnership be able to overcome some of the key challenges that partnerships in Digital Transformation face today.
- A representative from MTN Group contributed to discussions as a panelist on “The Remaining Access Gap: How to get affordable devices to the unconnected?” This session will discuss policy, regulatory, business and financing measures to foster inclusive access to smart devices. Including a five-point action plan identified by the Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Smartphone Access: Strategies Towards Universal Smartphone Access.
- A representative from Nokia served as a panelist in the session titled “Harnessing the Opportunities of the Metaverse.” The session explored the challenges and opportunities of the Metaverse environment relying on connectivity, digital devices, platforms and immersive reality technologies.
The upcoming months hold significant importance in shaping digital development beyond this decade. The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, at the end of the year in Dubai, promises to be decisive.
Additionally, the SDG Digital Day, scheduled for September 17 in New York, will provide an opportunity to highlight the role of data and digital technologies in creating a shared vision for a common digital future, including through the Global Digital Compact. These endeavors collectively contribute to the ongoing pursuit of an inclusive and sustainable digital landscape.