Connecting the World: The Development of the Global Information Infrastructure

By Yarbrough, Tanya L. | Federal Communications Law Journal, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Connecting the World: The Development of the Global Information Infrastructure


Yarbrough, Tanya L., Federal Communications Law Journal


I. INTRODUCTION

In 1844, the first message was sent over a telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore.(1) By 1855, people communicating over long distances commonly used telegraphy.(2) As a result, international alliances became important means of creating international telecommunications networks.(3) For example, in 1865, twenty European states signed the first International Telegraph Convention establishing a multinational communications network.(4) The International Telecommunication Union ("ITU" or "Union") was created to make subsequent amendments to this initial agreement.(5) Since 1947, the ITU has been a specialized agency of the United Nations.(6) Today, the ITU carries out its mission to support the rapidly changing telecommunications environment.(7) In the past 130 years, the membership of the Union has increased nine-fold, as countries have sought to streamline, coordinate, and regulate telecommunications on an international basis.(8)

Although telecommunications technology has become more advanced, many developing countries still do not have access to basic telephonic services. Consequently, the international telecommunications community established the Telecommunications Development Bureau ("BDT"), a division of the ITU(9) designed to further cultivate telecommunications and information technologies available in developing countries.(10) The ITU also seeks to evolve and adapt to the rapidly changing telecommunications environment by establishing committees to deal with technological advances and by partnering with other non-governmental organizations ("NGOs") to achieve its goal of universal telecommunications access.(11)

The ITU established the ITU Regulatory Colloquium in 1993 to utilize the knowledge of the foremost experts in fields such as technological development, economics, and public policy in an effort to achieve universal access.(12) The Regulatory Colloquium seeks the expansion and the optimum level of regulatory oversight of telecommunications services worldwide.(13) By partnering with leading experts in the telecommunications industry, the Regulatory Colloquium strives to develop the best regulatory policies for its member states.(14) As a result, it has enabled the ITU to lead the world's development and implementation of new policies and regulations for universal access.(15) The Colloquium performs its mission by producing "reports, analyses and recommendations on issues common to national regulators around the World."(16) In 1998, the ITU published the Chairman's Report of the Eighth Regulatory Colloquium,(17) which focused on the goals of facilitating e-commerce, developing a modern information infrastructure, and achieving universal access.(18) The Chairman's Report also reviewed and analyzed the desired means to achieve the goals it set and the roles that the ITU, its member governments, and other NGOs should play to achieve the goals set forth in the report.(19)

Innovation and development provide the foundation for the advancement of a global society. The telecommunications industry has always existed at the center of progress because communications technology affects the ability to communicate with one another, as well as the ability to transact business in a more efficient manner. To keep pace with the growing world market, the development of the Global Information Infrastructure ("GII") must occur so that every person in every nation has access to telecommunications services and information technology. The ultimate goal is universal access to basic telephone and Internet services, as well as access to the information superhighway's cyber-market. Only by developing and completing the GII can the global community achieve this goal.

The GII will act as an "information superhighway," connecting every town, city, and locality of every nation in the world.(20) The development of the GII must utilize local, regional, and national computer networks that combine to form a distributed, parallel computer. …

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