The Czech Republic is a generous donor to the ITU’s new headquarters project. This interview with Mr. Petr Ocko, Deputy-Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic responsible for the 4.0 Technologies Section, is part of an occasional series about why donors and sponsors support ITU’s new headquarters project.
Well, the Czech Republic is proud to be one of Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), one of the oldest specialized organizations in the world. We simply could not stay aside, knowing that ITU is seated in a headquarters that no longer responds to today’s technical standards.
We, therefore, decided to send a donation for the new headquarters project, instead of organizing a social event dedicated to promotion of the Czech Republic’s candidacy to the ITU Council. We made this decision after considering the situation during 2018, in which we felt that the abundance of social events connected to different candidacies prevented many administrations from properly attending other important ITU governance meetings.
We hope that our example will help attract a number of other Member States and possibly also Sector Members to follow and grant ITU, bit by bit, an amount that would enable suitable new headquarters.
For the Czech Republic, the Radiocommunication Sector is of a special importance. Further, as a Member of the European Union (EU) we need to synchronize our work within the European Union with the work within ITU. That means not to make ITU the same as EU but to keep the work of ITU open and democratic, so that it could fit also to the EU principles. Consensus and collaboration within ITU are the core prerequisites we value greatly.
Last but not least, we feel the need to fulfil the gap between the developed and developing countries, not only in standardization, but mainly in promotion and support of connectivity and development of the new-generation networks and high-speed internet access. We are looking forward to share not only sufficient financial means (the European Union is one of the most generous donors) but also good examples of ICT development. As a country that went through a transformation and still is aiming to do better, we have good examples as well as bad ones, and we can share them for the good of others.
One example is our history that repeats in many developing countries at the moment: In the 1990s, when our telecommunications were not able to create new lines and access to the Internet, people naturally started to try a new, emerging technology – a wi-fi connection. Numerous new companies started as wi-fi access service providers and later transferred their offer to optic fibre-to- the home (FTTH).
And our start-ups dealing in Big Data or Artificial Intelligence started to appear even without massive donations, just because there are people interested in new technologies. The State supports national competitions of young inventors, between universities and/or young scientists active in various branches. They all use one common tool – ICTs. Smart grids and smart homes are not just headlines in scientific magazines any more, they are a part of day-to-day reality.
In our view, ITU should follow and study the evolving technologies without interfering. Regulation of any kind is a very hard means of support of the economy and it is a completely individualistic tool for a specific national environment. That is why it would not be successful at a multinational level, the ITU level. We will appreciate ITU harmonizing radio-frequencies around the globe, being the source of information and capacity-building in telecommunications/ICTs and promoting good examples of efficient technological solutions gathered from the whole world.