Paris, 5th October 2004
On the invitation of Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Télécommunications (ANRT), Morocco’s telecommunications regulator, over 130 participants representing the telecommunications regulatory authorities of 20 French-speaking countries, international institutions (UIT, OIF, ETSI, European Commission, World Bank) and sector companies (Itissalat al Maghrib, Meditelecom, Maroc Connect, Inquam, Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel, Nortel, etc.) met for two days in Fès, on 4th and 5th October 2004.
This was the second annual meeting of FRATEL, the network of telecommunications regulators who share the French language.
Work at the meeting focussed on the role of mobile networks in social and economic development. Telecommunications have increasing importance in economic activity, in the context of the globalisation of trade.
Four round tables were held to encourage the sharing of experiences between regulators from the Northern and Southern hemispheres :
- Mobile telecommunications and development
Chaired by Mr. Mohamed Benchaaboun, Director General of Morocco’s ANRT, the session examined the role of public policies and regulation in promoting investments, as well as the coverage of socio-economic needs of populations through mobile telephony. Mr. Benchaaboun emphasized: "The action of regulators should facilitate the dual objective of developing and distributing promising technologies. The Fratel network is here to help by encouraging the exchange and dissemination of knowledge and skills."
- Prospects of mobile systems, networks and services
The work at this session focussed on the prospects for evolution of mobile systems. Questions related to convergence, next-generation networks, fixed access via the cellular network, as well as socio-economic issues of new systems and their contribution to meeting the expectations of consumers. Discussions were mediated by Malick Gueye, Director General of Senegal’s Agence de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART), who stated: "the important thing for developing countries is ensuring that infrastructures and services serve development, and not the contrary".
- Regulatory concerns for mobile services
How should frequency licenses and resources be allocated? How can networks be opened to competition? These were some of the questions raised during this session chaired by Ashok Radhakissoon, President of Autorité des technologies de l’information et de la communication (ICTA) of Mauritius.
- Telecommunications and development
What role can regulators play in developing the Information Society for all? This was the key question of these debates, chaired by Pr. Dominique Roux, member of the board of France’s Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART).
Emphasizing that "reliable and efficient telecommunications systems are a guarantee of improved productivity and increased competitiveness for companies", Pr. Dominique Roux reminded participants that the mission of the regulator is to "implement policies adopted by national governments and public authorities who are responsible for establishing the rules of the game".
The meeting marked the launch of a new web site, http://www.fratel.org, the creation of which had been decided during the previous meeting organised in Bamako in 2003. This site, developed by ART France, will serve as a link between the various regulators, as well as those people interested in Fratel’s work.
Mr. Jean-Marc Demers, member of Canada’s CRTC, was elected president of Fratel. He replaces Mr. Modibo Camara, president of CRT in Mali. He will be assisted by Mohamed Benchaaboun and Modibo Camara. Pr. Dominique Roux will represent the permanent secretary of Fratel.
The Assembly adopted an action plan for 2005. It was decided that the next meeting, to be held in Montreal in 2005, would deal with the topic "Internet and development". An information exchange seminar on Internet interconnection, naming and addressing, as well as a comparison of wireless technologies standards will be held in Mauritania next year. A training project involving several partner institutions of Fratel will be implemented in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
At the conclusion of the two days, Pr. Dominique Roux declared that "Fratel is becoming a place where the convergence everyone is talking about is a reality—not just the convergence of technologies or services, but more importantly, the convergence of knowledge".
Mr. Jean-Marc Demers, in a colourful sentence, assimilated the Fratel network to a "cooperative", where all members stand together, and which, because of this, dynamically meets their needs.
Finally, Mr. Benchaaboun thanked the participants and concluded with the importance of cooperation between regulators to reduce the digital gap.
The Fratel web site: http:// www.fratel.org