Information Communications and Technology (ICT) is cross-cutting and the sector requires delivering services to other sectors.

“It is happening at a time when the sector itself is going through lot of changes; these changes have got some common patterns,” Director of Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Brahima Sanou said while speaking to about 25 officials in Thimphu yesterday.

He said there is convergence of services, infrastructure and service providers.“We are living in a time where no matter what time you go to bed, when you wake up, your first question should be what were the changes when I was sleeping? What should I do to remain relevant?”

Brahima Sanou talked on trends in the ICT sector at an event that the ministry of information and communications organised.

As regulators, operators, service providers, one has to be relevant to the sector, if not, one would be put aside, he said. “Everything is exponentially accelerated, the time to bring an idea to a business, the time frame to become billionaire.”

He said that today the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicle. The world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate.“The economy is being shared at a level of users and even at a level of investment.”

Cybersecurity will continue to be a challenge as in an interconnected world, a loophole anywhere in the global network would pose a danger everywhere because of interdependency, he said.

Highlighting these patterns of ICT, Brahima Sanou said that ICT policy makers, regulators and industry need to change strategies and operation and that there is a need to reinvent the way they interact with each other.

Information and communications’ minister DN Dhungyel said that since 1988, Bhutan has been a member of ITU. “Any delay in this sector will delay the progress of other sectors, this sector being the critical enabler.”

Currently, out of 193 ITU member states, Bhutan stands 117th as of last year in terms of ICT development.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said that the country has made good progress in ranking in a short period of time. “We need to work further and target to have our rankings in the top 50 within the next few years.”

Brahima Sanou said that a study is being conducted which would aim to reduce the cost of internet for least developed countries.

To address special needs of least developed countries, small island developing states, including pacific island countries, and landlocked developed countries, action plans have been created in areas of satellite filing related issues, emergency telecommunication and planning, cyber security issues, and policy and regulations.

Some of the achievements in ICT sector in Bhutan are development of consumer protection framework, compliance testing of mobile base stations and broadcast stations, wireless broadband master plan and broadband policy and open access model.

Rinchen Zangmo