De-funding the ITU

Owen DeLong owen at
Mon Jan 14 22:42:12 UTC 2013

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 14, 2013, at 11:03 AM, Nick Hilliard <nick at> wrote:

> On 14/01/2013 19:23, Bill Woodcock wrote:
>> The ITU bleeds poor countries dry, by keeping communications costs
>> exorbitantly high,
> Whoa.  What bleeds poor countries dry is bad management of national
> resources, coupled with inherent kleptocracy, massive corruption and
> stifling regulation.  In short: endemic mismanagement - and this extends
> way beyond the reach of just the telecoms infrastructure within the country.
> The ITU's impact in this serves only to provide some post-facto
> justification for preserving the status quo, nothing more.  If any country
> wants to ditch the dinosaur model, they are free to do so and the ITU has
> no say in this whatever.  And the countries which have done so have ended
> up with vastly improved infrastructure as a result, despite the efforts of
> those dinosaurs to convince the politicians with scary horror stories of
> what bad and evil things will happen if they lose their monopoly in the
> marketplace and are exposed to actual competition!

I don't agree. The ITU's impact in part is to provide a continuing source
of revenue to motivate, promote, and preserve this status quo.

While the ITU has no legitimate say in it, the ITU provides significant
economic incentives against "ditching the dinosaur" as you called it.
There's a reason that ITU representatives hand-deliver settlement
checks to many of these countries.

Those countries that have done so have largely done so because they
got lucky with visionary regulators that were motivated more by doing
right by the country and its citizens rather than maximizing personal
immediate gains. In many cases, this was the result of a higher level
official overriding the telecom minister (or equivalent) and opening
competition over the objections of said telecom minister (or equiv.).

>> The Internet doesn't need to bribe destitute people with settlements,
>> because it's five orders of magnitude less expensive
> Exactly - and the fix for this is to deal with national policy
> mismanagement rather than international.  Once you have enough fibre into a
> country to allow competitive access to the market, the international
> pricing issues become line noise.

Even in trying to be pro-ITU, you have admitted that they are a proximate
preserver of this problem. As such, defunding them seems a rational step
in the direction of solution. It's not a panacea, but it's one step in the right


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