office of the Summit Follow-up - OAS

PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

OEA/Ser.G  CE/GCI-101/97
17 April 1997
Original: English

REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (CITEL) TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT


ORGANIZATION DE LOS ESTADOS AMERICANOS
ORGANIZACAO DOS ESTADOS AMERICANOS
ORGANIZATION DES ETATS AMERICAINS
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

March 24,1997

Dear Ambassador Babbitt:

Attached is a CITEL Report covering the Summit follow-up activities that have been carried out as part of the program since March 1996. I am pleased to report substantial progress has been made even though much remains to be accomplished.

The CITEL Assembly has been scheduled to be held shortly after the 1998 Santiago Summit in order for CITEL to be in a position to respond quickly to whatever directions that may be forth coming form the Santiago meeting. We are pleased to contribute to the process of achieving the objectives established by the Summit of the Americas.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Cordially,

Ernesto Dehl Sosa
Chair
COM/CITEL

Her Excellency
H.E. Dr. Harriet C. Babbitt
Ambassador, Special Committees on Inter-American Summits Management
Permanent Mission of the United States to the Organization of American States, Washington, DC, 20520


REPORT OF CITEL ON SUMMIT FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES

CITEL was expressly asked to: in coordination with the sub-regional telecommunications organizations, develop and carry out a workprogram to:

--Evaluate regulatory, tec1mical and legal means to promote liberalization, common standards, interoperability of networks and compatible use of the radio spectrum.

--Examine ways to promote greater consistency of the certification processes for telecommunications equipment among member countries.

--Develop regional guidelines for the provision of international value-added network services.

Support a meeting by 1996, coordinated by CITEL, of senior telecommunications officials to conduct further discussions of the above actions.

The following is a summary of the actions taken and accomplishments realized by CITEL in respect to the work undertaken to achieve the objectives identified by the Summit of the Americas.

Value Added Services:

CITEL prepared and adopted Guidelines for the introduction of Value Added Services in the Countries of the Americas (see Annex l). The Ad Hoc Group established for this purpose is now working to encourage the member countries to implement these Guidelines. A seminar to initiate the implementation of the Guidelines was held on March 19-21, 1997 in Lima, Peru.

Telecommunications Equipment Certification Processes

CITEL has established an Ad Hoc Group to deal with this topic. Guidelines for ensuring that there exists within member countries more uniform procedures for telecommunications equipment certification have been prepared and adopted by CITEL (see Annex 2). The Ad Hoc Group is now in the process of gathering information and preparing a report on how equipment certification is carried out in member countries as an initial step in the process of establishing greater consistency in the equipment certification processes employed in member countries. The Ad Hoc Group is also looking at the process ongoing in the ITU concerning a global MOU covering the use of mobile hand-held terminals for the new mobile personal communication system by satellite, and how that process may be used to further the specific objective on equipment certification identified by the Heads of State at the 1994 Miami Summit.

Standards Coordination

In the past year, CITEL has adopted a number of Standards Coordination Document (SCDs) covering various aspects of telecommunications. Adoption of these documents have significance in the fact that as all Member States progress towards the implementation of a digital telephone network in their countries, the interconnection of the systems will be much simpler and less costly.

1) A second SCID on different aspects of Signaling System 7 (SS7);

2) Intelligent Networks (IN) on the use of the IS-41 Standard;

3) Low Power Personal Communication Systems (PCS); and

4) Operations in the Frequency Band 1910-1930 MHZ;

Spectrum Management

During the past year, CITEL has initiated an additional program to work closely with the ITU Office in Brasilia in defining the structure of the spectrum usage database and in the collection and analysis of the data. The Permanent Consultative Committee III (PCC.III) has decided to expand the frequency range for which the data will be collected. The collected data will be utilized in preparatory activities for ITU conferences and in their endeavors to ensure the compatible use of the radio frequency spectrum throughout the Americas.

ITU Conference Preparation

PCC.III has an ongoing program to improve the coordination and cooperation between Members in the preparatory process. This is a critical element process to bring the new services, offered by the evolving technologies, in a timely fashion so that the economies of the Member countries can benefit from implementation of these services. Such cooperation and coordination assist in the allocation of portions of the radio frequency spectrum to the evolving technologies. Without such allocations, new services and systems can not be built and operated outside of individual countries. In the past year, PCC.III has been concentrating on the preparations for the 1997 World Radiocommunications Conference.

The Permanent Executive Committee of CITEL (COM/CITEL) has created two Ad Hoc Committees to address preparations of CITEL members for the 1998 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference and the World Telecommunications Development Conference. In both of these cases, it is important that the countries are well prepared because the conferences have the potential to affect the future development and modernization of the telecommunications networks in member countries.

Regulatory Matters

Blue Book

CITEL and the ITU completed Revision 11 of the Blue Book, a joint activity of CITEL and the ITU, which contains "Recommended Telecommunications Policies for the Countries of the Americas". The revision has been distributed to member countries and is available through the ITU publications office.

Colloquium on the Reforming the International Settlements Regime

A Colloquium was held on March 11-12 on the restructuring the International Settlement Rates. The objective of the colloquium was to product a ready reference on this subject for the use of members in their deliberations on this initiative by the Federal Communications Commission of the United States and which has the potential to impact on all the member countries.

Legal Matters

CITEL is also engaged in a joint program with the International Branch of the American Bar Association, the Inter-American Bar Association and the ITU to define the differences in Administrative Procedures between CITEL Member Countries. During the past year, the working group has been working on the preparation of a draft report that will define the various aspects of administrative procedures from a legal view and will include the information that has been made available from the member countries regarding the application of administrative procedures in their respective countries. This draft report will be distributed to members before the August 1997 meeting of the legal group.

1996 Meeting of Senior Telecommunication Officials (STO)

CITEL organized and hosted a meeting of Senior Telecommunication Officials in September 1996. All the member countries were represented. The meeting adopted a declaration and Action Plan (see Annex 3) to position the telecommunications community in the Americas to support the objectives set by the 1994 Summit of the Americas. The meeting also examined a report on the status of telecommunications in the Americas that was prepared expressly for the meeting. A progress report on the impact of the STO Meeting will be made by the CITEL Assembly next year when it examines the output of the Santiago Summit.

Coordination with International and Sub-regional Telecommunication Organization

CITEL continues to work closely with the ITU establishing joint programs and participation in joint meetings where feasible. CITEL has also entered into a formal working relationship with AHCIET and is in the process of negotiating similar agreements with COMTELCA and ASETA. CITEL is also looking into the possibility of establishing such a arrangement with the Caribbean Telecommunication Union. CITEL views these arrangements as an additional path to ensure that the member countries can gain the maximum benefits from the modern telecommunications environment for al¡ the people of the hemisphere.


ANNEX 1
CITEL GUIDELINES FOR THE PROVISION OF VALUE ADDED SERVICES

The following guidelines are based on principles acceptable in a number of multilateral, intentional and regional fora, such as the WTO Telecom Annex to the Services Agreement and APECS guidelines on Value-Added Services.

These guidelines are subject to the respective national laws and regulations of the Member States, and integrated with their plans and priorities for development. lf from the perspective of the Member States it is in their economic and social interest to do so, they recommend the growth and progressive development of a free market for Value-Added Services. Subject to the above, it: is recommended to the Member States that the introduction of Value-Added Services be implemented based on the following principles:

1. Operators or providers of Value-Added Services should be accorded non-discriminatory, transparent treatment, equal commercial opportunities with. treatment no less favorable than that each. member state accords to its national operators or providers of Value-Added Services;

2. Administrative procedures for Value-Added Services should be administered on a non-discriminatory, transparent and expeditious basis and be based on reasonable and objective criteria;

3. Member States should adopt principles to promote non-discriminatory, transparent and reasonable and equitable costs for interconnection services to the public network in a manner that establishes equal opportunities and. conditions for everyone, including the network operators and its affiliates;

4. Information required under administrative procedures should be limited to that which is necessary for conformity to a country's national regulations and to the international and regional agreements of the Member States;

5. Regulatory systems should facilitate and support the development of Value-Added Services through the simplification of administrative procedures;

6. Operators or providers of Value-Added Services, whether they have their own networks or not, should be able to obtain services and interconnect to the national and international public network with domestic leased circuits under non-discriminatory terms and conditions;

7. Operators or providers of Value-Added Services should be able to perform necessary switching, signaling and processing functions to offer exclusively Value-Added Services and use proprietary protocols of their choice, in conformance with national regulations or member states practices on interconnection to the public network;

8. Customers of Value-Added Services operators or providers should be able to purchase and attach to the, public network, terminal equipment of their choice that complies with the national regulations or member states' practices on certification procedures, standards and homologation;

9. The administrations or regulatory authorities of the member states could consider the preceding guidelines without damaging the rights of end users to receive from service operators and providers fair treatment and adequate service;


ANNEX 2
CITEL GUIDELINES ON CERTIFICATION

PREAMBLE

To promote the objectives set forth in the Plan of Action agreed to by the 34 Heads of Government at the Summit of the Americas in Miami, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Equipment Certification Processes recommends to CITEL Member States the following guidelines regarding telecommunications equipment certification processes in the Americas.

For the purposes of these guidelines, the following definitions apply:

* certification and homologation processes are the authorization/approval processes that must be followed. in order to be granted permission for telecommunications equipment to be imported, marketed or used for stated conditions in each CITEL Member State.

* telecommunications equipment means both wireline terminal equipment that conflicts to public networks and wireless equipment whether or not it connects to public networks. Wireless equipment is that which uses radio spectrum, for example terrestrial and satellite radiocommunications and broadcasting.

* technical. regulations are technical specifications and applicable administrative procedures with which compliance is mandatory according to national laws and regulations.

The objectives of these guidelines are:

- To ensure that certification processes of telecommunication equipment are procompetitive in the sense of promoting modernization and investment in telecommunications, to facilitate the flow of goods and services; and to strengthen. an open multilateral trading system.

- To develop a set of guidelines to promote an evolution of the certification processes for telecommunications equipment in order to make equipment certification processes across the Americas more consistent.

- To develop useful common criteria as the basis for technical. regulations of CITEL Member States.

It is considered that the application of these guidelines would enable equipment to be introduced to the marketp1ace sooner and at lower prices to the end-user; would faster greater innovation; and would improve market access for telecommunications equipment suppliers to CITEL Member States.

Given the rapid evolution of technology and the need for proper regulation of telecommunications equipment, it is recommended CITEL Member States, in accordance with their respective national laws, regulations, and development priorities, apply these principles as soon as possible.

GUIDELINES FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT CERTIFICATION PROCESSES

It is recommended that CITEL Member States, in accordance with their respective national laws, regulations, and development priorities, conduct the certification processes of telecommunications equipment, according to the following guidelines.

Nothing in these guidelines is intended to prevent CITEL Member States from protecting consumer rights with. regard to the functioning of telecommunications equipment through their relevant regulations or their applicable technical regulations. It is recognized that the trend in technical. regulations is that they be limited to those established in paragraph seven of these guidelines. In light of this trend, member states may review technical regulations pertaining to consumer protection regarding the functioning of telecommunications equipment to determine their effect on technical innovation, choice of equipment, and cost to consumers.

1. Administrative procedures for certification of telecommunications equipment be conducted in a manner which:

--limits information required to that strialy necessary for the purpose of assessing conformity to technical regulations and encourage the development of mechanisms to protect intellectual property; maximizes the available choices of telecommunications equipment;

--is non-discriminatory, and transparent, and it is recommended the application of reasonable and objective criteria;

--is undertaken, to the extent possible, by an entity separate and independent from the network operator; is streamlined in the issuance of certifications; and includes appeal and review processes.

2. Include, also, in these certification processes, requirements necessary to accept from. telecommunications equipment suppliers test results issued by any laboratory in accordance with the accepting CITEL Member State's technical regulations and, when applicable, in the, context of international agreements, including mutual recognition agreements. If criteria for laboratories is deemed necessary, these should be based to the extent possible, on international. standards and recommendations for laboratories (such as ISO/IEC Guide 25). Administrative procedures should minimize administrative delays and costs to equipment suppliers.

3. Carry out certification on the basis of type, rather than item. by item, wherever possible, considering that equipment with no differences in product performance shall be treated as one type for purposes of certification.

4. Efforts be made so that certification and homologation be required only for wireline terminal equipment that connects to the public network and wireless equipment whether or not it connects to public networks and use the radio spectrum.

5. In the elaboration of the national technical specifications, use as reference the international tec1mical standards when they are considered appropriate.

6. Efforts be made for technical regulations to be publicly available, including the interface between the telecommunications equipment and the public network.

7. Technical regulations relating to attachment of terminal equipment to the public network or relating to conformity of wireless equipment be limited to those necessary to:

-- prevent the equipment from causing tec1mical damage to public telecommunications networks or electrical hazards to network operating personnel;

-- prevent harmful electromagnetic interference and ensure compatibility with other users of the spectrum;

-- prevent the equipment from causing billing malfunction or tec1mical interference with, or degradation of, public telecommunications services;

-- ensure user safety, access for hearing impaired and access to emergency services.

8. Facilitate the participation of all interested parties (for example users, manufacturers, and service providers) in the development of tec1mical. regulations.


ANNEX 3
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES

The Senior Telecommunication Officials, meeting in Washington D.C. on September 25 and 26, pursuant to the mandate of the Summit of the Americas:

CONSIDERING:

That the convergence of telecommunications with computer technology makes it possible to access, transmit and receive any kind of information - voice, text, data, image and sound.

That new technologies make it possible to provide access to telecommunications and information resources at any time, and in any place.

That telecommunications and electronic information are playing an increasing role in economic, social, cultural and political development in all countries.

BEARING IN MIND:

That the Declaration from the ITU American Regional Telecommunication Development Conference, held in Acapulco in 1992, states that telecommunications is an essential tool for socio-economic development and contributes to Regional economic and cultural integration.

That in the Declaration from the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference, held in Buenos Aires in 1994 states that telecommunications fueis the global information society and economy, which is rapidly transforming local, national and international life and despite physical boundaries is promoting better understanding among peoples.

That in the G7 Conference on the Global Information Society, held in February 1995, the G7 partners committed themselves to pursue the interconnectivity of networks and the interoperability of services as a means to implement the Global Information Society through the promotion of a consensus standardization process that is market led and that encourages better understanding among peoples.

That the South Africa Information Society and Development Conference, held in May 1996, at which the participants committed themselves to continue or begin a process of national information planning in each of the representative countries, is in conformity with the development of a Global Information Society.

That at the meeting of the Global Information Infrastructure Society (GIIS) convened by the private sector and held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 13, 1996, they confirmed their interest in participating more actively in this process and identified from their own standpoint the main pillars of the Global Information Society and their recommendations for development of the infrastructures for telecommunications and information in the American hemisphere.

That the Trade Ministers of the Americas have established a specific group to consider issues affecting the Smaller Economies of the Hemisphere.

That the development of multilateral principles and decisions by the World Trade Organization on telecommunications has underscored the key role of telecommunications in expanding trade in services and improving trade efficiency in other sectors.

NOTING:

The initiatives undertaken by national governments of the Region to develop telecommunications and information infrastructures and to prepare their peoples for the global information society.

RECALLING:

The objectives of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), and the provisions of its Strategic Plan, 1995-99.

RECOGNIZING:

That at the Summit of the Americas, held from December 9-11, 1994, the Heads of State recognized that "a country's information infrastructure- telecommunications, information technology, and broadcasting-is an essential component of political, economic, social and cultural¡ development" and that " the information infrastructure development needs in the Americas are immense."

RECOGNIZING ALSO:

That, in conformity with the Plan of Action adopted by the Summit of the Americas, the governments of the Region intend to engage in multiple actions, where consistent with their respective governing laws, inter alia.:

Undertake discussions at the international level in order to encourage private sector investment to increase participation in the telecommunications and information infrastructure sectors; promote competition; implement flexible regulatory regimes; stimulate diversity of content, including cultural and linguistic diversity; provide access to information networks for service and information providers; and ensure universal service.

Undertake efforts to make government information more publicly available via electronic means.

Review the availability and interoperability of connections to international networks that facilitate trade, improve education and increase access to health care.

Encourage all universities, libraries, hospitals and government agencies to have access to these networks.

Support the conclusion of the negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) no later than 2005, and make concrete progress toward that objective by the end of this century.

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT:

The initiatives and achievements of CITEL in developing and carrying out a work program, pursuant to the directives from the Summit of the Americas in, inter alia, the evaluation of the regulatory, technical and legal means to promote common standards, interoperability of networks and compatible use of the radio spectrum; in the examination of ways to promote greater consistency of the certification processes for telecommunications equipment among member countries; and in the development of Regional guidelines for the provision of international value-added network services.

That CITEL, in the implementation of its work programs, should maintain awareness of activities being undertaken in the appropriate working group of the FTAA.

That the private sector is playing an increasingly important role in the development of telecommunications in the Region.

That a growing number of countries in the Region are engaged in the adoption of telecommunications regimes based on market mechanisms and on the development of instruments for the encouragement of private investment.

The need to make telecommunications services available to al¡ socio-economic strata, and especially to those with the lowest incomes.

DECLARE:

1. That in order to realize the benefits of an information-based economy and society, it is necessary to focus on well-defined, coordinated actions, many of which can be facilitated through programs initiated through CITEL in coordination with other Regional and international organizations related to telecommunications development; to this end, an adequate level of access to telecommunications services and networks should be considered a basic objective of governments in the Region.

2. That the specific challenges of the Smaller Economies of the Hemisphere should be taken into account in the implementation of the objectives of the Declaration and in the provision of appropriate programs related to the establishment of resource capabilities.

3. That government and private sector entities in the Region should be encouraged to adopt open interoperable standards for the Regional telecommunications infrastructure.

4. That the development of partnership strategies between government and private sectors should be promoted to accelerate the process of conversion to electronic commerce.

5. That the protection of private data and intellectual property should be highlighted as a key point in society and the economy, whose development is based on information.

6. That information and communications technology initiatives need to be launched to support natural resource development, environmental protection and emergency telecommunications.

7. That efforts should be expanded to extend the benefits of an information society to stimulate diversity of content, including linguistic and cultural¡ diversity, and to applications in health, education, electronic publishing and electronic libraries.

8. That the adoption of measures should be promoted that facilitate the implementation of the CITEL guidelines for value-added services, the equipment certification and the Coordinated Standards Documents issued by that Commission.

9. That encouragement should be given to the development of specific measures conducive to the widespread use of telecommunications services, informatics, and interactive audiovisual media throughout the hemisphere.

10. That the use of advanced telecommunications technologies should be promoted as appropriate.

11. That appropriate activities and programs should be developed by CITEL in coordination and cooperation with Regional Telecommunication Organizations (RTOs) particularly those from the Americas Region, as well as with the International Telecommunication Union ITU):

To follow up initiatives undertaken to assist countries of the Americas Region in facing the many challenges encountered in reforming the telecommunication sector, as highlighted in the document "Telecommunication Policies for the Americas".

To promote the strengthening of the telecommunication networks and services in the Americas Region and to achieve the availability of services to users with a diversity and density adequate to the demand in both urban and rural areas.

To encourage and promote the creation of radiocommunications in the Region, operating with modern technologies and without generating interference that goes beyond the countries' borders, thus being useful to the wide range of radiocommunication users.

12. That this Declaration is unanimously approved by the representatives of the countries participating in the Senior Telecommunication Officials Meeting, 25-26 September, 1996.


PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE AMERICAS
(Telecommunications)

1. INTRODUCTION

During the last ten years, the debate on the importance of telecommunications to improving quality of ¡¡fe has made clear that telecommunications is more than simply a technology. Telecommunications has become an even more important issue since the initiative to establish a hemisphere-wide free trade zone by the f first decade of the 21st. century began to take shape. The essential role of telecommunications to any economic, social-cultural or political proposal that is initiated on a national, or in this case, hemispheric, level cannot be denied.

Major development declarations, including the ITU Maítiand Report of 1984, the ITU Declaration of Acapulco of 1992, the ITU Declaration of Buenos Aires of 1994, as well as the 1994 Declaration and Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas, make clear the growing importance of telecommunications. The Declaration and Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas, given its political importance, provides the general mandate to develop this Plan of Action for the telecommunications sector in the Americas.

This Plan of Action recognizes that in the Americas there are different levels of economic development in the countries in the region and that these differences are substantial. These differences also manifest themselves in the telecommunications sector and should be progressively reduced so that the participation of al¡ countries in the future Free Trade Area of the Americas be beneficial

2. VISION OF THE SECTOR

We share a common vision of telecommunications, informatics, and audiovisual media for al¡, anywhere, at any time.

3. STRATEGIC MISSION OF THE SECTOR

Taking into account the Declaration of the Senior Telecommunication Officials Meeting, we also share a common strategic mission of promoting economic development, hemispheric integration, and modernization of the telecommunications infrastructure of the region by:

3.1. Meeting communication and information needs under equitably conditions and at reasonable cost;

3.2. Using appropriate technologies;

3.3. Developing an environment of fair competition; and

3.4. Encouraging participation by a broad spectrum of groups in the decision-making process.

4. OVERALL OBJECTIVES FOR THE SECTOR

Implementation of the overall objectives and related undertakings in this Plan of Action will be conditioned by the national law, development priorities, and interests of each country.

In this setting the Senior Telecommunication Officials will endeavor to:

4.1. Promote measures to meet in a timely manner the demand for al¡ telecommunications services at reasonable rates, and seek universal access and service;

4.2. Put in place flexible regulatory frameworks that can easily adapt to rapid change in technology and innovation in telecommunications markets and that facilitate implementation of the Global Information Infrastructure;

4.3. Support training of human resources for the sector;

4.4. Develop a legal framework to protect the rights of users;

4.5. Encourage the use of telecommunications to support education and health care;

4.6. Seek efficient use of the radio spectrum;

4.7. Encourage far competition among providers of services and interconnection, according to the principles of transparency and nondiscrimination;

4.8. Promote common positions among CITEL countries for world conferences;

4.9. Promote the use of telecommunications to preserve human ¡¡fe and for public safety in case of emergencies and natural disasters; and

4.10. Promote regional coordination in the areas of value-added services, equipment certification, and coordination of standards.

5. PLAN OF ACTION

5.1. Promote measures to meet in a timely manner the demand for al¡ telecommunications services at reasonable rates, and seek universal access and service.

Commitments:

The telecommunication authorities undertake to seek to:

i) Promote the establishment of mechanisms for increasing telephone service density and coverage in rural areas and for low-income groups;

ii) Devise specific policies concerning rural telecommunications, such as investment, subsidies and the use of market mechanisms or other applicable national models;

iii) Promote access to the global information network.

iv) Seek the adoption of regulatory frameworks that increase the availability of all services and universal service

v) Promote the use of wireless services in rural and remote areas.

vi) Examine the introduction of new global satellite services and urge national regulatory authorities to give special attention to the resuits of world telecommunications policy fora on this subject

5.2. Put in place flexible regulatory frameworks that can easily adapt to rapid change and innovation in telecommunications markets and technology and that facilitate their implementation of the Global Information Infrastructure.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

i) Promote among telecommunications and cable television operators, insofar as the relevant legal regulatory framework allows, the installation of network systems using the latest technology, and ensure its operability.

ii) Encourage national meetings that include the administration, the private sector, and other governmental and nongovernmental institutions, to expedite the start-up of networks using the latest technology in those countries.

iii) Seek adoption, in countries that are transitioning to market-based, customer focused telecommunications regimes, of flexible regulatory frameworks that promote innovation, encourage private sector investment and foster competition and universal service.

5.3. Support training of human resources for the sector.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

Encourage operators, the academic sector, and other official institutions to establish programs for training human resources in the sector.

5.4. Develop a framework to protect the rights of users;

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

i) implement user protection mechanisms.

ii) use appropriate mechanisms to make the benefits of the information infrastructure accessible to the population.

iii) promote means, where appropriate, for broad public participation in issues in the telecommunications sector.

5.5. Encourage the use of telecommunications to support education and health care.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

i) Encourage educational and health institutions to install suitable telecommunications and informatics infrastructure, especially in institutions located in rural areas and low-income communities.

ii) Promote the use of more advanced technologies (satellites, fiber optics, DTH, radio, etc.) for distribution and interaction with educational and health products.

iii) Cooperate in the development and exchange of viable tele-education and tele-medicine programs.

iv) Promote installation of networks and systems that provide by electronic means interaction between citizens and Government and, internally, among state agencies at the various levels.

5.6. Seek efficient use of the radio spectrum

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

Promote application of the latest technologies and harmonization of the use of the radio spectrum at the hemispheric level

5.7. Encourage fair competition among providers of services and interconnections, according to the principles of transparency and nondiscrimination.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities when developing national policies undertake progressively to:

i) Promote flexible regulatory frameworks that allow such competition and regulate in an impartial manner matters related to interconnection and, where applicable, numbering plans.

ii) Promote policies that include interconnection safeguards, cost-oriented rates, equitable access charges and account settlement rates that stimulate demand for telecommunications services and foster competition.

iii) Share, when appropriate information and views on accounting rates. Work together, when appropriate on issues relating to the movement of accounting rates towards costs in a spirit of mutual respect between parties.

5.8. Promote common positions among CITEL countries for world conferences.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

Develop cormmon positions, as appropriate, among the countries of the region in advance of important international meetings held under the auspices of the ITU, including the World Telecommunications Policy Forum, WRC-97, and the World Telecommunication Development Conference.

5.9. Promote the use of telecommunications to preserve human life and for public safety in case of emergency or natural disasters.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

Establish mechanisms for emergency telecommunications in the Americas, pursuant to Resolution 36 of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (1994, Kyoto) and the subsequent Council decisions in support of the negotiations of an International Convention on Disaster Communications.

5.10. Promote regional coordination in the areas of value-added services, equipment certification, and coordination of standards.

Commitments:

The telecommunications authorities undertake to seek to:

i) Approve the CITEL guidelines on value-acided services, equipment certification processes, and promote coordination of standards.

ii) Promote the adoption of specific measures to implement the principles set forth in the aforementioned guidelines.

iii) Promote value-added services to encourage investment and trade in these services.

iv) Promote and strengthen relations between CITEL and regional and subregional telecommunication organizations in the Americas, in particular to achieve regional coordination in the areas of value-added services, equipment certification and standard coordination.

v) Recommend that the countries of the region examine the possibility of developing regional, subregional or bilateral agreements on value-added services and mutual recognition agreements on equipment certification.

6. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN

The guidelines set forth in this Plan of Action will guide the pursuit of the stated objectives on the basis of joint efforts by the public and private sectors in the OAS member states.

CITEL is requested to examine and consider this Plan of Action with a view to its follow-up and implementation to he1p fulfill its objectives and commitments.


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