The purpose of ???World Telecommunications and Information Society Day??? (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the internet and other information and communications technologies (ICTs) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

The digital divide is about those persons in our communities who do not have access to internet and other information and communications technologies (ICTs) in their homes.

Efforts to provide these persons with these services at reasonable costs form part of the efforts of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and governments.

World Telecommunications Day has been celebrated annually on May 17, since 1969, marking the founding of the ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference on Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.

In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate May 17, as World Telecommunications and Information Society Day with the view to:

?????Stimulating reflection and exchanges of ideas on the theme adopted by the Council

??? Debating the various aspects of the theme with all partners in society.

??? Formulating a report reflecting national discussions on the issues underlying the theme, to be fed back to ITU and the rest of its membership.

This year???s theme for World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTISD) 2014 is ???Broadband for Sustainable Development???.The theme will focus attention on:

??? Multi-stakeholder commitment to achieve universal access to broadband connectivity and content and foster political will on achieving this objective;

??? Identify key gaps in broadband research and development;

??? Infrastructure, and packaged development of applications and services;

??? Define policy priorities for action in the areas of allocating radio frequency spectrum for broadband;

??? Universal access obligations and innovative financing mechanisms; and

??? Lead to technological solutions, particularly in the extension of broadband access into rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing ?? states.

Broadband infrastructure development is a critical element in ensuring that ICTs are used innovatively as delivery vehicles for health, education, governance, religion, culture, trade and commerce in order to achieve sustainable socio-economic growth. Education is a keystone for educating people with regard to the impact and consequences of their activities for sustainable development, thereby ensuring a better future for all.

As the leading specialised agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies (ICT), ITU looks towards its Members of which Barbados is one to harness the catalytic role of ICTs in achieving sustainable development.

We live in a fast-paced world led by Information and Communications Technology innovation. We have been experiencing an exponential growth in data traffic, telecommunications, cloud computing, social networking, and ICT applications for a smarter world. This growth is powered by affordable and ubiquitous broadband.

Access to the high-speed networks becomes ever-so-more important, particularly in light of big data emerging as new infrastructure, necessary to accelerate transition from information to knowledge society.??There were an estimated 300,000 mobile-cellular subscriptions, and over 125,000 Internet and Digital Subscriber Lines by the end of 2013 in Barbados with a population just over 270,000 persons. There is an estimated 6.8 Billion mobile-cellular worldwide – almost as many as there are people on the planet.

We have experienced the spectacular rise of mobile broadband, which is bringing Internet access to more people than ever before, and which continues to show the fastest growth of any technology in human history, with growth rates of over 30 per cent per year. Barbados celebrates WTISD with activities during the week commencing May 11 and ending on May 17, 2014.

Some of these activities are as follows:

?????A church service at St. Mary???s Anglican Church on Sunday, May 11.

??? A panel discussion on the theme for WTISD at the UWI Cave Hill Campus on May 12.

??? A guided tour of the GAIA Air Traffic Control Systems for the purpose of familiarisation of the Information and Communications Technologies being used ??at our Airport to ensure the safety of all Air traffic entering and exiting Barbados???s Air Space, on May 13 and 14, 2014.

??? A discussion by the Telecommunications Unit???s staff and an invited guest on Information and Communications Technology and Cyber Security on Mid-Morning Mix at CBC on May 14.

??? An Exhibition for the stakeholders and public on the theme at Heroes Square in Bridgetown on Friday, May 16.

The Government of Barbados through the various Ministries with responsibility for ICTs are highly focused on ensuring that Barbados continues to provide affordable broadband services to all residents to be used as a stimulus to sustainable development in all areas of enterprise in our country.

We look forward to the many benefits of broadband services for sustainable development in Barbados now and in the future

Author: Telecommunications Unit/BGIS

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