Ambassador Kramer: End beneficiaries of the WCIT should be citizens, consumers and society

Press Conference by Ambassador Terry Kramer
U.S. Head of Delegation
World Conference on International Telecommunications

United Nations, Geneva
October 8, 2012

Ambassador Kramer:  David, thank you very much.  I’d also like to thank Richard Johns, also from the U.S. Mission, for organizing this.  And I’d like to thank all of you for being here.  I appreciate you taking the time to talk about an issue that we’re taking very seriously and focusing on.

I’m also joined, in addition to Dick Beaird, by Paul Najarian who is also with the U.S. State Department.

As David mentioned, I’ll be the head of the delegation for the World Conference on International Telecommunications.  That’s what we call WCIT fondly.  The WCIT is going to be focused on updating the international telecommunication regulations.  The last time those regulations were updated was 24 years ago, so it was in 1988.  Obviously these carry a lot of weight to them about the look and operation and success of the telecommunications industry and on the internet space.

As you can imagine, since 1988 a lot has changed.  So reflecting those changes in the industry in terms of how we think about the WCIT is going to be a very important activity.

I plan to share with you our views on the WCIT, the proposals that we’ve put forward, some views about other proposals that have been submitted by other nations and our views on those, and finally, take any questions that you have.

Just to tell you a little bit more about my background, I am not new to Europe.  I lived actually with Vodaphone in the UK and The Netherlands for quite a few years.  I was the Group Strategy and HR Director and Chief of Staff there.  And I first started in the mobile industry in ’88, when the ITRs were first being reviewed.  And back in that day the paging business or the beeper business, as we called it, was actually the big business in the U.S.  That business then evolved into a cell phone business, targeting a lot of high-end users.  Then that went mass market.

Most importantly, the wireless business overall went from a development market business to a truly global one.  Again, that has kind of colored a lot of my view about seeing success in this industry.

I call out that the internet industry has developed in a very different way than the telecom industry.  The Internet has developed in a much more distributed fashion, in a much more dynamic fashion, one that innovation is happening in a lot of different places.  That internet space that’s been so successful has been governed by multi-stakeholder organizations and by open platforms.  I’ll cover a lot of our views about the foundational element of multi-stakeholder organizations and open platforms through the presentation.

The other thing I’ll just mention about the internet space is it has flourished because it’s been consumer oriented, because it’s been decentralized in nature, and by innovation that’s been allowed to happen in a lot of different areas to reflect local markets.  That is a lot of the view that colors us as we look at the ITRs coming in.

One other comment I’ll just share is that the vision we have for the WCIT is that we help create an environment for success for the telecom and the internet sectors.  That at the highest level is the goal.  We believe that the end beneficiaries of this should be citizens, consumers, and society.  And there are a lot of other organizations in the mix in this.  Governments are in this and telecom organizations.  But again, our message is the ultimate beneficiaries have got to be citizens, consumers, and society at large.

So let me share with you some of the principles we have specifically for the WCIT.  We think the first thing that needs to happen is we need to avoid suffocating what is the internet space through well-meaning but overly prescriptive proposals that would seek to control content or seek to mandate routing and payment practices.  That would send the Internet back into a circuit-switched era that is actually passing in time and history.  But that isn’t enough.  We need to look at the WCIT proactively for ways to increase access and broadband infrastructure growth, in countries that fear they’re being left behind in the internet age.

We understand the fear, but we also see great possibility of a virtual cycle in which national policies and consumer demand combine to stimulate network investment, increase access, generate domestic content, and produce economies of scale.

We see the Internet organically growing and moving away from its developed market origins and flourishing in the developing world.  This is already happening today, but we agree with those who are looking for ways to accelerate this.

So much of what I’m doing as I travel to various regions of the world is to listen to what my colleagues in these countries have to say about their successes and challenges in this regard.  It is absolutely vital for us to listen to each other, to identify mutual goals and common ground.  That is a message I’m also bringing here today, including those that I’ll have with meetings with Secretary General Hamadoun Torre as well as other nations.

I know that the ITU is working diligently and effectively to create the conditions for success in this WCIT and my message is that the U.S. delegation is here to work and negotiate diligently with the ITU and nations to achieve that success.

Last month I was in Dubai where I was able to meet many of our Arab colleagues including Mr. Mohammed Al Ghanim who will be the conference chair.  I also spoke at a session of Arab regulators and was a guest speaker at SAMENA which is an organization that’s made up of Arab operators.  These were very instructive and constructive meetings and deepened the level of dialogue on numerous issues.

Also last month I was in Accra in Ghana where the African Telecommunications Union was holding its WCIT prep meeting.  I was able to have several bilateral meetings with my counterparts in many African nations and the result was a very beneficial exchange of views on our developing positions.

Perhaps the most important recent event for our own region was the PCC-1 meeting of CITEL held about a month ago.  As a result of this meeting CITEL has now reached agreements on important inter-American proposals or IAPs for the WCIT.  Among these are several that I’d like to touch on briefly.

First of all on cyber security.  CITEL has reached agreement on two IAPs on this issue.  The first IAP establishes the general position that cyber security should be excluded from the ITRs.  The second is more explicit in saying that the ITRs should not address security issues that relate to cyber crime, national security or national defense.

The United States does recognize that many countries including our own are experiencing growing incidents of hacking and cyber crimes.  Indeed, there are reportedly some 67,000 malware attacks every day around the world, a number that has doubled since 2009.  But the ITRs are not an appropriate or useful venue to address cyber security.  Existing multi-stakeholder processes are better adapted to address cyber security and related issues.  Groups such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, the IETF, and 3GPP for example, are actively developing standards for network and device security, drawing on rapid innovations in identifying and addressing cyber attacks.

On global mobile roaming CITEL adopted an IAP urging transparency with regard to rates and consumer offerings.  We believe that transparency will allow market forces to act, leading to beneficial and appropriate results in each market.  But the U.S. does not support adding provisions to the ITRs that would address the actual level of roaming rates.  We believe that’s a step too far and too prescriptive which could generate unintended consequences.

On the scope of the ITRs, there’s also now a solid regional position in the Americas on maintaining the current definitions of what kinds of activities and entities would be subject to the ITRs.

We have an IAP calling for the definition of telecommunications to remain as it is, avoiding any confusion with the term ICT, Information and Communication Technologies, which we believe would stretch the scope of the ITRs into unintended territory that has little or nothing to do with international telecommunications traffic.

We have another IAP that calls for the ITRs to continue applying only to recognized operating agencies, a term that denotes authorized carriers that provide services to the public.

We believe this will provide a solid and consistent baseline of the ITRs going forward, rather than opening the door to confusing and vague definitions that are not consistent with the ITU’s constitution.

Indeed one of the core principles of the U.S. approach is that the ITRs should remain high-level norms and that we should not have to revisit them every two or three years to make micro-managing adjustments.  Moreover, we believe that the way to revise them now is to start with the existing text as a baseline rather than trying to reinvent the ITRs as a wholly reconstructed document.  This approach is embodied in the first tranche of U.S. proposals that was submitted to the ITU on August 3rd.

We propose there only minimal changes to the preamble of the ITRs.

We propose an alignment of the definitions of the ITRs with those in the ITU constitution and convention including no change in the definition of telecommunications and international telecommunications service.

We propose maintaining the voluntary nature of compliance of the ITU T recommendations.

We propose continuing to apply the ITRs only to recognized operating agencies, or ROAs.

And we propose the revision of Article 6 to affirm the role played by market competition and commercially negotiated agreements for exchanging international telecommunications traffic.

We will continue to look at the contributions of other administrations and regions and we will likely prepare additional proposals for the WCIT in the coming weeks.

Before I close I want to address some of the issues we continue to be concerned about.  First of all, I’d like to address the proposal by ETNO, the European Telecom Network Operators, that the sending party pays networks including content providers, many of whom are non-profit organizations and other organizations which provide free content, should pay to send content to end users on the Internet.  ETNO has been actively pressing its public relations case in recent weeks.  We remain unconvinced by ETNO’s arguments and continue to believe that their proposal for transfer pricing regimes are impractical to implement, an inducement for arbitrage and evasion, and very likely detrimental to internet users around the world including those in developing nations.

In my conversations with regulators from some of those developing countries, it is clear they are sensitive to the potential loss of access to information that their constituents risk under the ETNO proposal.  Making content generation more costly and uneconomical will likely lead many content providers and non-profits to restrict or charge for downloads, even leading to blackouts in less developed countries due to high termination charges.

Our message here is not to kill the content golden goose.  Developing countries need access to more information, not less.  And they need to be empowered to create more of their own content.  When consumers can freely generate and access relevant, useful content it will drive that virtuous cycle of demand, infrastructure investment, greater international capacity and economic growth around the world.

Separately, we’ll be working hard to bring our messages to the world that commercially driven traffic routing agreements are the most productive and efficient way to manage traffic flows.

The United States believes that least cost routing is a standard business practice that has resulted in much lower costs for consumers to make international calls.  This could be jeopardized by proposals to monitor and track traffic routing and origination.  These traffic management mandates could also open the door to depacket inspection allowing governments and operators to engage in content monitoring and potentially gain access to customer information across borders.

Just being realistic, the Internet comprises more than 40,000 networks, exchanging traffic on more than 425,000 distinct global routes and connecting more than 600 million web sites, all of them subject to commercial agreements among network operators.  It would be impractical for any government to track and monitor routing and management practices throughout such a complex network of networks.

So in summary, the ITRs first developed in 1988 have been amazingly effective.  We’ve seen the growth of a vibrant mobile communications sector and a booming internet sector marked by rapidly growing, affordable broadband access providing invaluable connectedness and commercial opportunities for citizens, consumers and society.

As we approach the WCIT in Dubai, we have the opportunity to create an environment for continued success marked by unique opportunities around the world, unfettered by prescriptive policies serving only a few.  A successful broadband and internet space connecting people, providing access to information and creating economic opportunities for individuals and societies can be our lasting legacy.  Let’s make sure we make that opportunity a reality.

I’d now like to open it up for questions.

Media:  Just today by coincidence, you’ve probably seen this House panel take on the opposite side of the political aisle putting out this report on two Chinese tech companies that they say is a threat to cyber security.  I’m wondering if you’ve seen that report, if there’s a reaction to it, and how what you’re doing, what you’re talking about, the cyber security, might aid or hinder the U.S. in combating threats like this.

Ambassador Kramer:  I have not seen the report in detail.  I’ve heard about it high level, but I’ve not seen it.  I don’t think it changes any of our positions.  I think the argument is, first of all, there are a lot of cyber threats.  Everybody’s consistently seeing that.  But the nature of cyber treatment and issues requires an agility, it requires a technical expertise, and it requires a distributed effort.  So we’re very sensitive about any one organization taking on the sole role of solving cyber threats, whether they be defensive, offensive, of any type.  So that’s why we’ve said, the IETF, a variety of organizations, the ITU, they all do great work.  We shouldn’t concentrate that activity in any one area.

Media:  You mentioned the concern about other nations monitoring traffic and the activities of users.  But it’s my understanding that the U.S. [inaudible].  Is that true?

Ambassador Kramer:  I can’t comment on specific activity the U.S. is engaged in or not.  What I will say, the U.S. has got as a framework on any activity it engages with is a rule of law and due process in looking at content and alleged threats.

What we’re reacting to in this is allowing monitoring to occur where that environment and construct doesn’t occur.

In many of these proposals the proposals look innocuous and they may sound like they’re looking to protect national security, et cetera.  It opens a door wide open without any protection for individuals, for organizations, et cetera, and that wholly we would be opposed to.

Media:  I was wondering if you could clarify for us, you said there was a CITEL meeting recently where you agreed on these IUAs.  When did that take place?  And which countries were involved in that?

Ambassador Kramer:  It was September 10th to 14th.  The meeting was held in San Salvador, and basically had most of the nations in South America, Central America, North America and a variety of nations from the Caribbean.  That’s where these discussions go.

As you know, we’re part of that region, so our proposals being carried in that forum carry obviously a lot of clout because it’s a regional proposal.

Media:  Then I want to ask you, there’s been a lot of noise and a lot of backlash from the ITU against what they perceive as sort of campaigned against the ITU, what one official described as a paranoia, mainly emanating from the United States.  Claims that certain countries are going to try to use the ITU to take over the Internet.

On the U.S. side I was wondering, are these claims exaggerated?  What are the specific proposals?  Can you name two or three specific proposals which you are highlighting as potential threats that could lead to sort of international seizure or government control I guess?

Ambassador Kramer:  This last one, to be candid with you, a proposal to manage traffic, to say that organizations, whether they be commercial organizations, whether they be governments, are going to route traffic in a specific way through a central point of contact in a nation makes it very easy for nations to monitor traffic.  And I don’t view the debate as being paranoia.  I think there are very strong philosophical views in the U.S. that are oriented around two major themes.

The first theme is that you have a free and unfettered Internet.  From an economic standpoint you want to provide free access to content that creates all sorts of great things.  Those great things can be connectedness of individuals.  Those great things can be commercial opportunities because you have small businesses, new businesses, innovative businesses in developing markets that use the Internet to market services, to create new, et cetera.  So you have a set of economic benefits, that’s one philosophical view.

The second one has to do with democracy and free speech.  And obviously the argument goes very strongly that we feel there should be free and unfettered access to information.  With that information people can again connect to other people.  It provides education for people and a lot of other great things.

So when there are proposals that, number one, the ETNO proposal, that would put in a “sending party pays” regime, if you look at a non-profit, or take the [inaudible] Academy, does YouTube clips to provide free educational classes on arithmetic and reading, et cetera.  That all is provided free today.  If you look at a proposal that would allow basically operators, network operators, to charge for that traffic to be delivered, you’re basically setting up an environment, a very different model,   where either the traffic doesn’t go at all, or that traffic goes into a paid model.  When we talk about an income divide in the world, we talk about a digital divide, we feel that exacerbates that.

So there are two arguments.  Again, one is economic.  The second one is the free flow of information.  I don’t look at the arguments, again, as being paranoia. It has to do with a very fundamental view that those should be the gating items for success for the industry.  Those are not U.S. views, they’re very much kind of broad views, we think, but they aren’t necessarily shared in every single market and when we see proposals that run counter to that, that seem to open the door to that, it concerns a variety of constituencies.

The final thing I’ll say is, and again, I come out of the telecom business.  You look at the internet space.  It is a very vibrant, dynamic place.  There are internet companies all over the world formed in real time, some of them go away in real time, but it’s a very distributed, active environment.  So anything that seeks to put structure and control and limitations around that, again, is a very worrisome, philosophical trend for us and I think those are the points that you’re probably hearing.

Media:  Just to be clear, the managing traffic proposal, who’s putting that forward?

Ambassador Kramer:  I don’t want to call out individual nations.  I think if you look at a variety of proposals that have come from non-democratic nations. I’ll let you do the research.  The ITU needs to post the proposals, but in general the countries that are not led by a democracy have put forward proposals that we would have concerns with.

There’s a variety of proposals that also are being worked that are still being fleshed out.  We get enough kind of signs in our conversations that these are happening.  And we’re putting out messages of our own.  We want to work with you because we have disagreements on these.

What we’re confident of is Hamadoun Torre wants to have a successful conference.  He’s a great leader.  He’s got a vision about connectedness.  We may have different views globally, when we put all the nations together about solving the problems, how you solve them.  But in terms of seeing the problems I think there’s actually very good alignment.  So that’s what this conference is going to be all about is trying to get to those solutions.

We hope we can do that, but we’re not going to violate our fundamental views, as I mentioned again, on a free and open Internet.

Media: You mentioned you don’t think the ITR should address cyber crime, cyber security, national defense, but [inaudible] that’s because you want to keep attacking Iran with cyber attacks?

Ambassador Kramer: First of all, the references you made was actually an agreement that came out of Guadalajara.  There’s a Resolution 130 that all of the nations agreed to.  So what we’re saying is just adhere to what was already discussed earlier.

Again, what we’re trying to do is allow a free-form environment to happen.  And if there are violations there people can raise those in other venues.  The UN looks at a lot of issues on cyber crimes and other things, and other fora.  But what’s happening with these ITRs is these are focused around the telecommunications sector and these are getting broadened and broadened for what seem like other purposes that to us don’t allow the sectors to keep growing.

Media:  If others say that the U.S. doesn’t want too much regulation on cyber security because you want to have the freedom to attack Iran’s nuclear program, then you’d say that’s got nothing to do with it?

Ambassador Kramer:  If people have a concern of what the U.S. does they certainly can raise those issues.  There are international environments where those things get discussed.

Our message is in the ITRs, that is not the right place to bring those up.

Media:  You started talking about these badly updated regs which are almost a quarter century old.  Can you elaborate on that?  What’s been the effect on telecom of having regs that are a quarter century old?

Ambassador Kramer:  Ironically, they were developed very well.  Basically what they allowed is a lot of innovation and free form to happen.  If you look back in 1988 the wireless industry was just starting out.  What the regulations allowed to happen is a lot of privatization and free market developments.  So if you look across the world, and I think the developing markets are probably the best example, there’s been a lot of private investment that’s allowed new operators to provide service for mobile.  That’s caused prices to come down, and for penetration rates to go up dramatically.  All of that happened because the ITRs were set up in a very high level, non-prescriptive fashion.  As a matter of fact Dick [Beaird] worked on a lot of these.  I really applaud the effort there because it’s very easy when you go into policy-making to get prescriptive because we all want to do certain things.  We tend to get into micro-decision-making.  But then what happens is we create a rigidity that then forces a regular review of ITRs.

So the ITRs actually were structured in a very good way about high level principles, about providing good quality communication services, about allowing nations to broaden the availability of service.  What happened is, the net result is you have a flourishing industry.  Again, I think the developing markets are probably the best example.  Seventy percent mobile penetration rates in the developing markets.  Those will get to 100 percent in a few years.  A lot of that’s happened from a variety of providers.

Media:  [Inaudible].  Are you optimistic about finding a solution [inaudible] on ITR?  Or are you going to adopt some international [inaudible]?

Ambassador Kramer:  It’s an interesting question.  Am I optimistic?  Right now I’d say yes.  The reason I would say that is Hamadoun Torre, the Secretary General, has made a very important point that there’s not going to be voting in this negotiation.  This is going to be consensus driven.  And one of the things he said to me when I first met him, and I really applauded it, he said when you have voting you have winners and you have losers.  In that environment you have people walking away angry, and to the extent of which that ends up being the way in which the conference is run, I think we will get good outcomes.  It forces you into a position to say what can we all agree on?  We all agree we want more broadband access.  We all agree we want a vibrant Internet.  Let’s find ways that we can agree on those things.

The one caveat I’ll put out, I’ve shared with you the philosophical views.  There are some non-negotiable immutable principles that we have that have to do, again, with a free and open Internet and economic opportunities.  We are not going to be in a position to agree with what we feel are older models that regulate traffic, that force traffic to incumbent operators, that force payment.  Those kinds of core principles we won’t negotiate on.  But there’s a vast array of things to agree on about how do you drive the broadband sector and the internet sector.  That’s why I would remain confident and we’ll see how things progress in Dubai.

Media:  The reason why I asked is because I thought this conference is about networking and debating, not decision-making.

Ambassador Kramer:  It is.  So that’s another good question.  These set of ITRs, we shouldn’t worry about them, that they’re binding, legal, and there’s going to be lawsuits and everything overly, but what it does set is a set of norms about how we’re going to look at the Internet and the telecom space going forward.  So that’s why we do need to be thoughtful about it because these discussions about internet freedom, about economic models for broadband growth, et cetera, are going to happen in a lot of different fora after the WCIT.  If we were to adopt prescriptive policies that are narrow in nature, we’d set the tone.  Everybody’s going to refer to the WCIT saying it was already agreed, in a global stage you believe this is okay.

So that’s why we’ve got to be careful.  Again, not because of prescriptive legislation that comes out of this one conference, but because of the examples and the theme and the tone, the norms, that get set after this.

Media:  Mine was a question about multilateralism, to try get you to say that word.  I think it’s kind of hard to find environments these days where something productive is happening in a multilateral environment.  To what degree, especially with the map having changed, economies having changed globally, you have new actors in a different position now than in ’88.  How is this a useful and constructive approach to take this kind of private sector driven area into a multilateral environment, to have markets grow.

Ambassador Kramer:  The single biggest benefit, and remember I come from industry, so I haven’t come from a multilateral world, per se, it’s been very, very helpful to hear what people’s issues are.  So as I mentioned, I was in Ghana last week and there’s a lot of nations struggling with broadband access. How do you accelerate it?  I don’t think anybody would debate the huge impact that it’s had, the benefits it’s had.  The question is, how do you advance it further?

Then you get into the discussion of how do you advance it further?  This WCIT allows us to have a broad discussion amongst U.S. government agencies, industry, and civil society to say how do we advance these activities?

One of the areas we’ve been thinking about is broadband 2.0.  What are the practices, the things we all have learned that allow broadband access to advance more rapidly?  When broadband access improves in Africa it helps Europe, it helps the Middle East, it helps the U.S. because the societies are so interconnected and commercial flows are so active.

So it’s a win/win situation.  The key distinction we’re drawing is not multilaterals don’t work, et cetera, but they’re one of several discussions that need to happen and it needs to be a more open and free environment for a variety of organizations to go at things.  Again, all this is driven on an internet world that is distributed, it is dynamic, it does happen much more rapidly, it does require more technical expertise, so relegating thing to one venue is not, to us, the right solution for that problem.

Media:  To put the WCIT in context, obviously there are a lot of things you think could be improved, but if it didn’t happen, if we just carried on as we are, are we heading towards some sort of problem down the line?  What happens if nothing changes?  Is that a problem?

Ambassador Kramer:  I think it would not be a terrible outcome at all.  If you look at what’s happened, again, you look at the telecom and the internet space, they have been huge successes.  I kind of feel that’s all our legacy for our children and grandchildren, et cetera. So the natural path we’re on is pretty good.  Now does that mean there aren’t things we can improve?  Absolutely there are things that can improve.  But the best thing to do — pick two options.  One is to get prescriptive and get into a lot of things versus leaving things open.  We’re much better by leaving things open.  There are enough organizations now on things like cyber, which cyber affects all of us.  There are enough people working that that we don’t need to kind of step in and force that.

I think to the earlier discussion, the question is this WCIT, raising these issues so that we have a set of priorities about what we should talk about in global states, like broadband access is a great one.  But not worrying that we need specific actions out of this.

Media:  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Ambassador Kramer:  Correct.  That’s right.

Media:  Ambassador, it seems like the U.S. is in a very defensive position going into this meeting.  You talked about we don’t want cyber security [inaudible], we don’t want a change to the definitions, we don’t want to be [inaudible], et cetera.  You mentioned that you were pleased that Mr. Torre said there wouldn’t be any voting.

If this meeting ended with no decisions, everything blocked because you had no consensus, would that be a successful outcome for the U.S.? If not, why?

Ambassador Kramer:  Let me answer your first one about defensive.  When I first came into this role I did feel a little bit like the U.S. was looking like no, no, no.  But more and more, we’re actually putting out a philosophy here.  The philosophy is that liberalized markets candidly are the best way and the only way to get things accomplished you want to, in broadband access, in internet freedom, et cetera.  There’s no other model that has been shown to work well.

Now there are certainly challenges as nations go to a liberalized structure in mobile spectrum awards, in creating competition for spectrum, in terms of public/private partnerships.  There are a lot of things there that have to work, but there’s been no model better than that.  So our philosophy, to me, is a very positive one, is that’s the track you’re going to get success.  You need to allow the multi-stakeholder organizations that again are experts, that do move fast, to solve those.

I would look at the other proposals that are coming in, the negative ones, saying we don’t believe that.  We don’t think these things are going to get us to the success.  So we’re going to put forward a proposal there. I would view that those are the more negative proposals.

Sorry, your second question?

Media:  If the meeting ended with no decision because no consensus could be reached on any of them, would that be a successful outcome?

Ambassador Kramer:  It depends on the tone of it.  If there are no decisions and everybody walks away angry, no, that’s not a great outcome because we are very connected and our relationships matter hugely.  There’s a lot of commercial activity, there’s a lot of government partnership work, et cetera.  These multi-stakeholder organizations are very global.

So if people leave feeling as if the relationships are good, then that’s a good outcome.

If people leave feeling wounded and somebody in essence kind of won the day, that is not a good outcome.  That’s why we’re coming at this saying we are going to talk to people, we are going to partner.  There shouldn’t be any name-calling in any of this situation.

People that name-called the ITU, it’s completely inappropriate.  As I’ve set up our U.S. delegation, that is an unacceptable stance.  We’ve not seen a lot of cases of it, but if we do see it, it’s very clear that’s unacceptable.

For people to say that a nation, the U.S. or any other, is biased I its view, and narrow in its view or whatever, that’s an unfair comment as well.

We need to get to a mode where we say let’s agree on what the problems are we’re trying to solve, and then let’s start talking about the solutions.

I think there actually is a fair amount of agreement on the problems.  We’re stuck right now with what are the solutions.  That to me is a normal activity and hopefully the WCIT helps us get at that.

Media:  Two little questions.  The goal of what you’re talking about, increasing access to the developing world, broadband, Internet, how much of that is driven by U.S. commercial interests versus sort of broader U.S. policy goals of promoting democracy, et cetera, which increases U.S. influence?  Et cetera, et cetera.  That’s one question.

The other one is just on the off chance there’s a new U.S. president on January 20th, between November 7th and the conference there would be just enough time for the transition to formulate ideally some kind of policy.  But it’s so far off their radar, so to speak, that they would be immune from that?  Or is it possible that you would have to go, the administration would have slightly different [inaudible].

Ambassador Kramer:  I’ll take the second one first.  The benefit of coming to this role, and it’s been a pleasant surprise, is the alignment within the U.S. is amazingly strong.  Democrats, Republicans, industry, civil society, et cetera.  There is very very little difference.

People argue on the margin on some this or that, but on a complete level, that I do not have to spend my time trying to win over U.S. support.  The bigger issue has been as we’ve worked with a variety of nations, select nations.  That’s where the challenge has been.  So I don’t expect the election to have any major effect.  And it isn’t because this isn’t high on the radar. It is high on the radar. There’s been a variety of resolutions, there’s a lot of discussion in the media, et cetera, but it’s because there’s common agreement on this.

Regarding broadband access, truly it’s a win/win situation.  The way the flow works is when broadband access is good, it creates more information availability that generates commercial traffic, that creates more affluence in the nation.  That creates a better environment for that nation.  For themselves, but also as demanders of goods elsewhere.  As people have more money, basically they trade more.  That helps the U.S. and it helps a lot of other nations as well.

So does this advance U.S. policy?  Sure.  It helps the U.S., it helps it commercially.  It helps provide an example that internet freedom and people being able to communicate openly is a very important goal we think everywhere.  But importantly, it helps local nations in what they need to do, and society is becoming more interconnected.  And the more there’s opportunity everywhere and less divide, whether it’s information divide, digital divide, income divide, the less divide there is it actually helps on a global landscape.  That’s why we look at this thing as a win/win.

 

(end text)