I had the pleasure last week of meeting several distinguished international colleagues, beginning on Tuesday morning, with a delegation from the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (CMT). Members of the Spanish telecommunications regulatory authority met with various U.S. companies and government agencies to learn more about the U.S. telecommunications market, and specifically, the FCC’s regulatory agenda—particularly in the area of broadband deployment, open Internet, next generation networks, and Internet governance. Then on Wednesday afternoon I had a delightful and informative meeting with Emmanuel Gabla, Commissioner for the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) and his delegation. Among the many obligations of CSA is the responsibility for implementing France’s digital television transition. The French began the switch to standard definition DTV in 2009 on a regional basis and established a 2011 cutoff for all analog TV broadcasts. In France, several agencies govern different aspects of communications policy. Since Commissioner Gabla has worked at agencies that regulate the wireline, wireless, and now media communications, he was able to educate me on the history of a wide-range of French communications policy. I really appreciate the time that these delegations spent with me this week and would like to recognize the tremendous support of Mindel De La Torre and her staff at the International Bureau for making these exchanges possible.
Also last Tuesday, I was invited by Ambassador Mickey Gardner to address a very impressive international gathering at the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (“USTTI”). We had a lively exchange with 27 participants from 17 countries representing Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Many were senior government officials, including four Commissioners from Iraq and the Chairwoman of the Liberian Telecommunications Authority. I spoke about my experiences as a Commissioner here at the FCC and contrasted that with my previous service at the SCPSC. They asked thought-provoking questions inspired by the political pressures they face and how they balance protecting consumers with promoting industries in their developing nations. Several of them proposed ongoing conversations and communication among Commissioners around the world, and I was struck by their comments on the importance of the FCC as a role model for their regulatory agencies.
What was soundly affirmed to me during each of these exchanges is that while regulatory models and the communications’ infrastructures may vary—oftentimes greatly, the challenges and opportunities we face are fundamentally the same—no matter what language we speak.