The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a Geneva-based UN agency, is in talks to outline a blueprint for global communications regulation and policy-making.
Vice President Al Gore, who has actively encouraged countries to grow their own advanced telecommunications systems to kick-start economic growth, is to open the debate at the ITU's 15th Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis today.
Gore's keynote will set the tone for the talks, but likely to top the agenda will be discussion on whether information on the Internet should continue to flow cost-free between countries.
The conference is also likely to look at the realities of introducing a standard charge for international telephone calls.
The ITU will also examine its role, if any, as an Internet regulator. Currently the ITU primarily concentrates on technical issues as opposed to content and pricing.
Delegates will also look the possible roles the ITU could play in arbitrating rates of pay between international phone companies. Currently international carriers resolve their own disputes or seek government involvement in resolutions.
In addition the ITU will decide whether it should develop a single standard or multiple standards wireless communications systems which can communicate in more than one country and with one another. Wireless communication has become a hot topic among both PC makers and telecoms companies.
The kind of competitive telecommunications policies the ITU are discussing could mean lower prices for consumers on communications services ranging from Internet access and international telephone calls to paging in the long term.
Although the ITU discussions could lead to future policy changes, no policy votes are expected at the conference, which runs right through until the 6 November.
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