Partner Perspective

ITU: a message to the 21st Century for 50 years now

ITU Telecom World started out life in Geneva in 1971, with “a message to the 21st century”. In 1971 ICT was all about telecoms; voice over a fixed infrastructure, run by national operators out of government departments.

Remco Takken July 15, 2021
ITU Telecom World

ITU Telecom World started out life in Geneva in 1971, with “a message to the 21st century”. In 1971 ICT was all about telecoms; voice over a fixed infrastructure, run by national operators out of government departments. Innovations included switching and transmission equipment, videophones, audio-visual equipment, and television studios, communications, or research satellites.

It’s incredible to think about the amounts of ‘firsts’ when looking back fifty years. In 1971, the very first email message was sent, Intel introduced its first microprocessor and Bell Labs created the Unix operating system. The Internet protocol IPv4, created by Robert Kahn, was first introduced in 1973, the same year as Motorola demonstrated the first handheld cell phone call.

Geneva: a key subject of discussion during the Forum at Telecom 83 was the integrated services digital network (isdn), at that time under consideration as the worldwide information highway of the future.

Fast forward to 2020, when ITU created an all-out virtual event, Virtual Digital World 2020. ITU Telecom World went virtual – in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic – and took on a new name to reflect the range of technologies and stakeholders in the industry ecosystem: ITU Digital World. Held online with co-hosts Viet Nam, ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 included Ministerial Roundtable and Forum debates on the impact of the pandemic, 5G and broadband networks, as well as a virtual exhibition.

Geneva: the Broadband Commission for Digital Development was co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Helú, Chairman and CEO of Telmex and América Movil, with as co-Vice Chairs ITU Secretary-General (2007-2014) Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

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