17th May 1865 in Paris with the signature of the first International Telegraph Convention and establishment of the then International Telegraph Union (ITU) – the oldest contemporary UN agency and one of the oldest international organizations in the world. The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is celebrated on 17th May each year to commemorate that important date.
This year's Information Society Day celebrations have a special dimension because of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Telecommunication Union. The process of formation of the organization was spread out over time. Over the years and with the rapid development of communication technologies has changed its name and remit.
When it was established, the ITU brought together only 20 Member States. Today there are 193 Member States, and also 661 Sector Members, i.e. private-sector companies operating in the telecommunication and radiocommunication markets. In addition, there is a category of the so called Associates, which include interested entities and institutions that may participate in the ITU work on the preparation of recommendations, as well as have access to the documentation of the Union (there are 165 of them in total). Moreover, in 2011 a new category was introduced – Academia, which includes research establishments (currently there are 92 entities on this list).
Head of the International Telecommunication Union is located in Geneva, and mandate includes three sectors:
- The Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), with its World Radiocommunication Conferences that can change the Radio Regulations in whole or in part;
- The Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) –engaged in research on technical issues, operation and tarification, as well as adoption of recommendations regarding the telecommunication standardization in the world, which is done by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly held every 4 years;
- The Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) – responsible for drawing the attention of the Member States’ authorities to the importance of telecommunications in the creation of national economic and social development plans. Its responsibilities also include providing support to the development and operation of telecommunication networks and services and stimulating the development of telecommunications through cooperation with local telecommunication organizations, as well as global and regional financial institutions engaged in development. The World Telecommunication Development Conference held every 4 years is a forum designed to identify priorities for the development of telecommunications and the related new recommendations and resolutions.
Our country has been a member of the ITU since 1921 and since then it actively participates in the work of the Union. An example of a significant involvement Polish in Warsaw was to organize a World Symposium of Regulators (Global Symposium for Regulators - GSR) from 3 - 5 July 2013. It is worth emphasizing that this prestigious meeting then took place for the first time in the European Union. Yet another vital issue consists in the active presence of Polish representatives in the ITU Council - one of the most important decision-making bodies within the ITU, which supervises implementation of the current ITU policy and strategies, as well as implementation of the ITU operational plans. After four-year long absence, in 2010 Poland was once again chosen the Member of the ITU Council and has been its active member since then. Moreover, it must be noted that Poland is considered as an important partner by other ITU Member States. It was clearly visible during last elections to the ITU Council in 2014 when Poland gained most support of the ITU Member States in the C region.
On the occasion of the round anniversary, the International Telecommunication Union has prepared a special, historical photo gallery
and figures associated with the development of telecommunications and the cycle footage
We invite you to read the publication in the Annex, containing the historical background of the International Telecommunication Union together with a description of its specific tasks and initiatives, including those actively supported by the Polish regulator.