Al Gore Speech on Building the Global Information Infrastructure
THE WHITE HOUSE
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
For Immediate Release September 22, 1994
Remarks (as delivered) by
Vice President Al Gore
via satellite to the
International Telecommunication Union
Dr. Tarjanne, Mr. Utsumi, distinguished ministers and
delegates, ladies and gentlemen:
When I last spoke to the ITU in March, I traveled 8,000
kilometers from the White House to Buenos Aires. Today, I
am traveling an even greater distance by way of satellite.
This is, of course, no substitute for being there in
person, sharing with you Kyoto's 1200th birthday and the
beauty of the city's palaces, temples and gardens. It's
been said that Kyoto embodies the spirit of old Japan, where
ancient arts and crafts -- textile weaving, ceramics, and
Kimono -- live on. But it is also a city that is looking to
the future. And it is appropriate that I'm able to send my
message to you today in this way, simultaneously showing the
promise of technology and the Global Information
Infrastructure, or GII.
The effort to build the GII provides us with an
opportunity to reach beyond ideology to forge a common goal
of providing an infrastructure that will benefit all the
citizens of our nations. We will use this infrastructure to
help our respective economies and to promote health,
education, environmental protection and democracy.
Government has an indisputable and appropriate role to
play in developing the GII. By reducing regulatory barriers
and promoting private sector involvement, by identifying the
public interests that must be served, and by aggressively
using the GII to provide education, health care and other
public services, governments can play a key role in
developing the GII in cooperation with industry and others
in the private sector.
In Buenos Aires, you adopted five principles for a GII
which the nations of the world have been putting into
practice: Private investment. Market-driven competition.
Flexible regulatory systems. Non-discriminatory access.
And universal service.
On every continent, you can see these principles in
In Pakistan, the government is selling shares to
the public of the Pakistan Telecommunications
Corporation, thereby promoting private investment and
contributing to economic growth.
In the Russian Federation, there are now 80
privatized telecom companies operating in that
country's 86 regions. And there are another 26
independent operators providing international telephone
and data transmission services. This not only serves
the goals of investment and competition, but also
improves access to information services and promotes
the lifeblood of democracy -- freedom of communication.
More competition is now possible in the
Philippines as a result of broadened access to
international communications satellites.
In the Americas, CITEL is implementing the
Acapulco Declaration to promote telecommunications and
contribute to the overall development of the region.
Chile has implemented a regulatory framework to
encourage private investment, promote competition, and
protect against monopoly. The telecommunications
ministry there expects these reforms to increase
service from 7 lines per 100 people in 1987 to more
than 20 lines per 100 people.
Mexico is gaining access to new technologies and
attracting substantial new foreign investment by
protecting intellectual property rights.
On other continents, regulatory reform and increases in
the number of service providers are increasing access to,
and the value of, the telecommunications infrastructure.
For instance, Tanzania is establishing a
regulatory body independent of the communications
Australia has amended its telecommunications act
to allow carriers to provide flexible pricing packages
China has established China Unicom, a second
telecom network that will provide new services and
increased access to communications networks.
The African Green Paper provides technical advice
and policy guidance for improving telecommunications.
These are only a few specific examples of a powerful,
worldwide trend in implementing each of the five principles.
Industry's contributions have been equally important to
promoting these principles and creating a GII. Daily we
read stories of new investments, new products, new leaps
into the future of telecommunications at a cost to industry
of billions of dollars. Clearly industry believes there is
a big future for the GII.
The U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute, formed
as a result of the 1982 Nairobi Plenipot, now offers courses
on mobile communications in Spanish and English on wireless
communications and spectrum management and on
telecommunications planning and economic decision-making.
U.S. companies are also providing needed expertise
directly to countries that need it most.
One U.S. company offers a seminar to developing
nations on effective spectrum management practices.
Another recently provided technical and managerial
expertise to managers at Telmex to facilitate
privatization in Mexico.
And yet another sponsors Master's degree-level
Chinese students to attend the University of Michigan
for an executive training program.
But as promising as these developments are, we cannot
afford to be complacent and assume that this revolution will
produce all the benefits we desire without diligent effort.
For our part, the United States is willing to
demonstrate its commitment by broadening our efforts in
regulatory and technical cooperation. For governments
examining their legal, regulatory, institutional and
economic frameworks that affect telecommunications, we stand
ready to offer our experience and learning.
To make the GII a reality, it will take the combined
efforts of every member nation of the ITU -- and of
businesses and consumers in all of our nations.
Our businesses and our citizens are demanding advanced
information technology so that local businesses can succeed
in worldwide competition; so that electronic commerce can
bring customers and suppliers closer together; so that
citizens can be educated. This demand cannot be ignored.
Rather, it is our duty to open markets, so that competition
can meet this growing and evolving demand.
In the coming months, we will have several other
opportunities to work together to create a GII.
Members of APEC and the OECD will gather in
Vancouver in February to address the cross-border
issues affecting the development of a GII.
At the Summit of the Americas in Miami in
December, Western Hemisphere leaders will have the
opportunity to focus on telecommunications and
information infrastructure issues.
The European Union will host the G-7 Ministers
next year in Brussels. This conference will also
address common issues in developing national and global
All of these meetings will provide opportunities for
the nations of the world to come together to reach our goal
of creating a GII.
We must work together to create incentives for and to
involve all sectors of society, from telecommunications to
information technology, from R&D facilities to libraries,
and from the medical community to the world of the arts. We
all have a stake in the future of the Global Information
Infrastructure, so we all must work together to make it a
And we must work together as governments to redefine
our roles in the telecommunications industry -- new and
innovative roles as facilitators of private investment and
competition, guardians of the public interest, and champions
of the free flow of information.
When we meet again at the Plenipotentiary in 1998, we
will have an opportunity to reflect on our progress in the
interim years and to renew our commitment to this important
That is why I am extremely pleased this morning -- this
morning in Kyoto -- to invite the next Plenipotentiary
Conference of the ITU to be held in the United States. It
would be a great privilege and honor for us to host you in
When the Plenipotentiary was last held in the United
States, it was 1947.
It was a year of great political change -- the Marshall
Plan -- the transition to the post-World War II world. It
was also the year that inventors at Bell Laboratories in New
Jersey invented the transistor, which made possible the
development of products from the transistor radio to the
home computer, all at a cost which made them available to
the mass market.
And what do we see occurring by 1998?
We see the establishment of myriad networks around the
globe through which technology is harnessed to create a vast
flow of data and information that will enable and support
applications that serve people in all aspects of their daily
One speaker at a recent Internet Society meeting
marveled at the inexorable growth of the global
telecommunications network. As an example he pointed to one
of the many services available over the Internet -- the
World Wide Web. "We are now watching a global
internetworking revolution scale in near real-time," he
said. "Every thirty minutes, another network connects."
Well, these networks of the GII will not be ends in
themselves. The benefits that will come from the use of
these networks will be what is important.
It is my fervent hope that when we reassemble in the
United States at the next Plenipotentiary Conference in four
years, our common journey toward a Global Information
Infrastructure will have advanced many light years.
As we welcome the nations of the ITU to our country in
four years, so we welcome the challenge of working with you
to help construct the Global Information Infrastructure, one
that advances the well-being of all humankind.
Congratulations on the work you have under way.
We look forward to seeing you here in four years.