Moderator of the final summit session, Nikkei editorial writer Waichi Sekiguchi, highlighted the varying degrees of progress in developing a ubiquitous network among nations and asked what was the best role for governments to play in overcoming problems.|
Panelist Thomas Kalil, advisor to the Clinton administration on new technology and economic policy, said governments must allow the private sector to flourish and bring more citizens online to prevent a digital divide within society. He also said the provision of government services will be transformed by the arrival of ubiquitous networks, with e-learning, e-health and e-government on the horizon.
Rosalie Zobel, who works on information issues at the European Commission, said governments, industry and social players must be brought together. She said governments must take a regional and global perspective in developing policies, which will need to be constantly reviewed. Deciding what content to allow, solving privacy issues and preventing computer crimes will require cooperation between governments on a regional and global basis, she said.
Soon-Hoon Bae, former South Korean information and communication minister said governments should let markets determine how IT networks develop, while ensuring human rights are advanced and protected in the information era. The main concern of governments should be to avoid a digital divide, promote the right framework and instill ideals. He suggested the motto of the French Revolution, "liberty, equality and fraternity," might be the most appropriate slogan for the information revolution.
Keith Parsonage, Director General of Information and Communications Technologies within the Canadian Government's Industry Canada department said every community in Canada should have access to a broadband network by 2004, placing the country at the forefront of the information age. The nation's success at creating leading software and hardware companies, most notably Nortel Networks Ltd., provides a good example of what can be done when the government and the private sector cooperate, he said.
Fifth panelist Koichi Sakata, chairman of Japan Telecom Co., said Japan was at a turning point. The government has finally committed itself to making Japan a leading IT nation, although the goal of providing universal access to high-speed networks by 2005 is unlikely to eventuate. He believes the spread of broadband links to the home via optic fiber cable will be slow and costly but mobile and DSL networks will grow rapidly. Carriers in Japan are inhibited by too many regulations and NTT's monopoly position, and the private sector should be left free to develop the future network, he said.