Fast Facts on United States Submitting Initial Proposals to World Telecom Conference

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
August 1, 2012

On August 3, 2012, the United States will submit its first group of proposals to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 3-14, 2012.

Convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations expert agency for telecommunications, the WCIT will review and potentially revise the treaty-level International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). The ITRs govern the arrangements for exchanging international telecommunications traffic among countries. They have not been revised since 1988, and in the intervening years, there have been significant changes in the global telecommunications sector, including liberalization of markets, the rise of competition and the advent of new technologies and services, including packet switching and international mobile roaming.

Responding to the ITU’s call for proposals for the conference, the U.S. WCIT Head of Delegation, led by Ambassador Terry Kramer, is submitting a first round of proposals. These initial proposals reflect the U.S. belief that the ITRs should remain a high-level treaty that establishes an international framework for market-driven development of telecommunications networks and services.

“The ITRs have served well as a foundation for growth in the international market,” Ambassador Kramer said. “We want to preserve the flexibility contained in the current ITRs, which has helped create the conditions for rapid evolution of telecommunications technologies and markets around the world.”

The U.S. proposals include:

  • Minimal changes to the preamble of the ITRs;
  • Alignment of the definitions in the ITRs with those in the ITU Constitution and Convention, including no change to the definitions of telecommunications and international telecommunications service;
  • Maintaining the voluntary nature of compliance with ITU-T Recommendations;
  • Continuing to apply the ITRs only to recognized operating agencies or RoAs; i.e., the ITRs’ scope should not be expanded to address other operating agencies that are not involved in the provision of authorized or licensed international telecommunications services to the public; and
  • Revisions of Article 6 to affirm the role played by market competition and commercially negotiated agreements for exchanging international telecommunication traffic.

The U.S. will carefully monitor and study the proposals submitted by other countries. The U.S. is concerned that proposals by some other governments could lead to greater regulatory burdens being placed on the international telecom sector, or perhaps even extended to the Internet sector -- a result the U.S. would oppose.

“We will not support any effort to broaden the scope of the ITRs to facilitate any censorship of content or blocking the free flow of information and ideas,” Ambassador Kramer said. “The United States also believes that the existing multi-stakeholder institutions, incorporating industry and civil society, have functioned effectively and will continue to ensure the health and growth of the Internet and all of its benefits.”

The U.S. will formally constitute its official WCIT delegation in mid-September. It will be comprised of experts from U.S. government agencies and the private sector, including industry and civil society. This reflects the multi-stakeholder approach that has been a hallmark of Internet development and governance. Ambassador Kramer will carry out an extensive schedule of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other nations around the world. Additional proposals will be submitted prior to the WCIT, as governments finalize their positions and proposals.

For more information, please contact John Alden, U.S. WCIT Delegation, 703-516-3024,

About Ambassador Terry Kramer

Terry Kramer received his appointment in late June 2012 as U.S. Head of Delegation for the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12), which is being held by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Mr. Kramer will be accorded the personal rank of ambassador by President Obama to serve in this role.

Ambassador Kramer has had a 25-year career in international telecommunications. For 18 of those 25 years, he worked for Vodafone Group Plc/AirTouch Communications in a variety of roles, domestically and internationally. He has also spent several years leading and advising small, growing technology companies, serving as CEO at QComm International and as a board member of Fiber Tower, 724 Solutions, and Sonim Technologies.

In addition, Ambassador Kramer is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Harvard Business School and a lecturer and faculty advisor in the Global Access Program at UCLA's Anderson School of Business. He also sits on the Boards of Envivio Corp., the Harvard Business School, California Research Center, UCLA's Economics Department, the World Affairs Council of Northern California and Larkin Street Youth Center.

Ambassador Kramer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from UCLA and an MBA from Harvard University.