The Pacific Telecommunications Council: Mobilizing the Big Connections in Asia-Pacific ICT

By Jason O’Rourke - Pacific Telecommunications Council and Stephen McClelland - Pacific Telecommunications Council

The Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) exists to make, and mobilize, big ICT connections in the Asia-Pacific region. Big connections are needed between leaders in the world of ICT in terms of advancing dialogue and professional relationships. Big connections are also needed between identifying the new ICT technologies now emerging and understanding the possibilities they represent. But the biggest connections of all are needed for the two billion people unable to participate in the digital society because they lack ICT facilities.

Chartered as a non-profit organization with a central secretariat in Hawaii supporting a portfolio of international activities and membership services, PTC is enabling these ICT-related connections to be established between thousands of professionals, companies, and interest groups from more than 40 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

International, Interdisciplinary, and Community-Based Connections

PTC’s annual conference, held in Hawaii each January, is firmly established in the industry calendar as the largest event of its kind in the region. It drives professional conversations and collaborations across ICT communities as diverse as submarine cable, satellite, and data centers as well as mobile and telco/carrier interests. In each case, experts look to PTC for insights into emerging technologies and market outlook. The modern ICT market is complex and dynamic, so PTC promotes broad participation with many perspectives to take account of new, unexpected demands and developments.

PTC activities are diverse, responsive, and frequently big picture and visionary in scope. Among many topics, recent PTC programs have considered the future of the Internet, discussed the impact of video on traffic, debated the upsurge of social media growth in resource allocation, assessed a new era of international Internet regulation, evaluated the lessons learned about ICT response in the 2011 Japanese tsunami, and considered the technical context and implications for upcoming 8K HDTV, and even intelligent car.

Now, in the upcoming PTC ’17, another major theme has been identified: the issue of gigantic change at the heart of the industry. This mega-trend change is forcing all players to confront new customers, relationships, technologies, and perhaps even new identities. In short, these are changing realities.

“PTC’17: Changing Realities will present attendees with major insights and contexts to discuss how their business, customer demand, the global economy and global regulatory environment are all changing simultaneously,” concludes PTC CEO Sharon Nakama. “Opportunities for every ICT executive and professional certainly lie within these dynamic changes, ready to be unearthed in a new year at PTC’17, through the unparalleled dialogue and networking our annual conference is known for.”

PTC Members Yasuo Sato, Tom Cooper, Jagadish Rao, Shinichi Nabekura, and Masaaki Sakamaki
(left to right) enjoy networking at the Members Soiree.

Partnership and Policy Connections

Achieving this broad approach requires partnership and collaboration in many different ways. Like-minded non-profit groups such as the Pacific Islands Telecommunication Association (PITA), Sub- Optic, and the Word Teleport Association (WTA) frequently collaborate in PTC program creation. PTC and the IEEE Communications Society and their members in the ICT sector have an especially evident joint interest in discussing the emergence and impact of new technologies and practices that can meet the needs of the region.

ICT complexity also presents regulatory and policy challenges. Emerging areas such as the Internet of Things, another current PTC program interest, present highly complex scenarios and demand that ICT policy be viewed in many different ways with different stakeholder perspectives. PTC attracts key regulators, policymakers, and policy advocates from the region to discuss, propose, and share experiences in these new environments.

Research and Outreach Connections

The largely open and flexible nature of the PTC organization and approach has encouraged volunteer activity and allowed outreach to flourish. Several countries maintain affiliated PTC Chapters running national activities organized and hosted locally with their own programs.

PTC also supports and organizes a significant academic and research community interest. The PTC Young Scholar Program grants travel scholarships on a competitive basis to graduate students to enable them to present papers at the annual conference. For established researchers, paper publication in international journals is also encouraged.

In parallel, PTC supports research into regional ICT development issues. PTC has sponsored specific research programs, on-line directories of ICT4D, and the publication of Broadband Reports offering in-depth, country-scale overviews. To date these have covered, respectively, Fiji, Myanmar, and Indonesia. Other PTC initiatives include the PTC Academy, which organizes in-country executive and professional ICT training and workshops.

New Mobile Ecosystem Connections

The Asia-Pacific region has seen breakneck growth in mobile which, in a broadband age, may finally close the connectivity gap and offer many underserved populations the reality of a digital society they will need to develop their social and economic potential. The debate about this new mobile world and what form it should take has resulted in PTC initiating a second regional conference, Spectrum Futures, in Singapore.

Now in its third year, Spectrum Futures focuses on perspectives of what needs to happen in the mobile ecosystem of stakeholders, in terms of spectrum resource management, mobile business models, and regulatory interventions, to make this digital society happen.

This ecosystem is complex and intricate. In this new world of mobile ICT, there are many different players. Increasingly, many stakeholders are likely to be from outside the traditional world of ICT altogether. “We are really excited that this is our third Spectrum Futures conference in Singapore,” says PTC CEO Nakama, “because it is uniquely positioned to bring together the whole ecosystem, including regulators, ISPs, app and infrastructure providers, as well as backhaul, to discuss how to connect the next two billion Internet users across South and Southeast Asia.” But once again, the PTC approach in Spectrum Futures will be, as always, to facilitate professional relationships and dialog, ready to build the connections the Asia-Pacific ICT community will need in the future.

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