The ITU and the government of Myanmar, successfully ran and hosted the 13th subregional meeting for Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam (CMLV). Topics of discussion focused on Advanced wireless technologies and Internet Governance. Presenters included NTT Japan, Mr Alexander Ntoko, Head of e-strategies at ITU, and myself as the external expert hired as an ITU consultant for the conference. The last time I presented to the subregional meeting was in 1997, when I conducted a seminar on Internet for Policy Makers again as external consultant, although I have dealt with some of the other delegates during other similar workshops, most recently being during the ITU/ADB workshop on Internet Governance and Interconnection, in 2004 held in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
There were many country presentations and it was very interesting to see all these countries are at different stages of development. Some had just recently set up separate regulatory bodies, others had already corporatised or privatised their incumbent players, whilst others had already introduced domestic or international competition, etc. Telecom development also varied with Myanmar having very low teledensities e.g. 1.3, whilst others were already implementing 4G trials or licensing 3G etc. There was concern about the “walled gardens” which could result in the whole alphabet and number soup of telecom technologies being deployed. So interoperability and interconnectivity was discussed as a preferable approach to choosing winners, to enable greater choice, affordibility and players in the arena. Overall, it allowed for these countries to hear each other fully and learn from each other, something they don’t usually get at other meetings such as ASEAN, APT, etc. Overall dialogueand exchange of information was useful to the regulators and operators present, and many new initiatives to strengthen telecommunications between these countries were realised.
This was the first sub-regional meeting that also had a Business Forum held the day before, and there was support to continue this for future meetings. There was also interest in having more of a dialogue between private sector and government as opposed to separate meetings. The next host country is Laos and the focus of discussion will be on Convergence, to be held sometime in Sept/Oct 2007.