WCIT Ambassador Kramer: Progress, But Still Work to Do

Ambassador Terry Kramer, who is heading the U.S. delegation
at the ITU WCIT 12 telecom treaty conference in Dubai, said Thursday that there
continued to be discussions about Russia's proposal to move Internet governance
away from a multistakeholder model, but that that continued to be a
deal-breaker for the U.S.

With the bipartisan backing of Congress, the delegation has
made it clear that the treaties cannot be expanded to issues of Internet
governance or content, and would have troubles with new broadband tariffs or

Kramer said that, three days into the conference, early
successes include no change to the definition of "telecommunications"
in the treaties, but the that they were still ongoing discussions about the
issue of who those treaties apply to; recognized operating agencies (ROAs),
which are telecoms like AT&T and Verizon; or operating agencies (OAs),
which could be expanded to include Web content companies like Google or Yahoo.

The U.S. would have preferred those issues be resolved by
now, but Kramer did not characterize the fact they were still on the table as a
failure of a U.S./Canada effort to deal with those first.

Expanding that ROA definition is another nonstarter for the
U.S., which has threatened to walk away if the conference morphs into a
referendum on moving away from a multistakeholder model of Internet governance.

Kramer and Joshua Peprah of Ghana, who chairs a key WCIT 12
committee dealing with economic and access issues, appeared to be on the same
page when it came to the conference not getting into internet governance issues
-- Peprah confirmed that position to B&C/Multi from Dubai early Thursday, as well
as the fallback position on issues on which consensus could not be reached.

Kramer said that in that event, they would have to rely on
the original charter of the International Telecommunications Regs (ITRs) the
conference is meant to update. He said he had had the discussion with ITU
Secretary General Hamadoun Touré that if there were any disputes over
definitions, they need to go back to the treaty's original charter, which deals
with telecom and broadband, but not Internet governance or content.

Peprah said he was confident that the conference would come
to consensus, but for issues that it did not, he pointed out that ITR's that
were not updated would still be in force, as they have been for the past 24
years, saying ones that can be revised will be, and for the others: "We
will make comments and move on."

Peprah had pointed to the hackingof the ITU website on Wednesday as a reason that cybersecurity was an
important issue. Kramer agreed, but pointed instead to how quickly the site
came back up as an argument for a multistakeholder approach to that issue.

The U.S. is concerned that cybersecurity not be used as
leverage for more centralized control of the net, as Russia appears to be

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.