It's the end of 2007, a year that began with unbounded optimism and ended with a lot of questions about the viability of municipal wireless projects, the rollout of WiMAX across the US and business models. Here's my take on the most significant stories of the year.
Goa's setting a prime example of how private-public enterprise can help development at state-level.
On Friday last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the "Goa Broadband Network" (GBBN), an example of private-public partnership, amidst hope and apprehension about the future of the project.
Previously named "Goa Net", the Broadband Network project aims at building a state, which is "enabled by IT to be efficient and accountable with a global thinking approach".
GBBN will provide privileges to citizens, including information around education, health care, agriculture, welfare, entertainment, IP telephony, and video conferencing. It will also provide e-governance and B2C (business-to-citizen) services. In a bid to bring in greater efficiency, the network will be rolled-out to nearly 280 government offices, including municipalities, the collectorate, and the state secretariat.
The Prime Minister lauded the project, saying it is a milestone in the use of modern telecommunications and IT for improving public services and the overall quality of life. He praised the private-public partnership responsible for the initiative, calling it a 'viable business model'.
With 10 'Citizen Service Centers' at launch, GBBN intends to scale-up to around 200 such centers by the end of next year. This will generate substantial revenue to meet a major portion of costs involved in the project.
The Prime Minister and IT Minister Austin Gatt December 22, 2007 launched the government’s Information Technology strategy 2008-2010, saying they wanted Malta to be transformed into a “smart island” and be among “the best in the world” .
The strategy itself is called The Smart Island. Dr Gonzi said it is the fruit of the government’s work in the IT sector in the past six years as well as a broad consultation process. Some 85 percent of suggestions had been taken on board, he said. The previous strategy had 161 objectives, of which only 21 had not yet been attained. In terms of the new strategy, the government wanted to see IT in every aspect of life, with the country exploiting all the opportunities which IT offered and all the people benefiting from these gains.
Collaboration to harmonize regulatory policies in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the CaribbeanGeneva, 17 December 2007 - The International Telecommunication Union and the European Commission (EC) concluded an agreement aimed at attracting massive investment in ICT infrastructure and ICT-enabled applications.
Over the past decade, most countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean have initiated reforms in the telecommunication sector by establishing national regulatory bodies, introducing competition and at least partially privatizing operators. However, large sections of the population remain without basic access to information and communication technology (ICT) services. Key reforms have yet to be undertaken in many countries which would provide regulators with the tools and authority to effectively regulate the sector as a means of boosting investment, promoting innovation and building confidence in ICT markets.
The European Union has allocated Euro 8 million from the European Development Fund, to which ITU will add USD 500 000 of its own resources. The work will be managed and implemented by ITU.
Algeria is poised to shift to digital TV broadcasting by year 2009 in line the ITU?s proposal to migrate all broadcasting services by 2015 to digital.
Algeria's preparations to migrate was revealed by Mr Mohamed Benfodil, the president of the Algerian Independent ICT Authority (ARPT) during a two days regional seminar organised in Algiers in partnership with the Cairo based Arab bureau of International Union of Telecommunications.
DTVB technology, Benfodil adds, will lead to the development of Algeria's content industry and the availability of more local content in the broadcasting programs.