ECTA Board furious as the ITU excludes new trade organisation from participating at TELECOM '99

Sep. 1999

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) Board Furious as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Excludes the New Trade Organisation from Participating at TELECOM ’99.

Often described as the ‘Olympics’ of telecommunications, the four-yearly exhibition is one of Europe’s largest telecommunications trade events. The ITU shocked ECTA (a trade association representing nearly 240 member companies) by refusing ECTA’s participation at Telecom’99 in Geneva. In less than two years, ECTA has become the largest telecommunications carrier association in Europe representing new entrant companies that compete with Europe’s former state owned monopolies.

According to Robert J. Dombkowski, Chairman of the Board for ECTA, "The ITU has recently proclaimed that it is ‘imperative to adapt (itself) to respond better to the changing nature of the telecommunications environment and particularly, to respond to the challenge posed by the greater dynamism, creativity and competitivity of a number of new partners.’ Sadly, the ITU’s discrimination towards ECTA and our members indicates that the ITU will ‘respond to’ the voice of the industry with fruitless denial rather than a supportive embrace."

Michael Potter, ECTA’s Vice Chairman and founder of Esprit Telecom, added: "Everyone knows that the ITU has been controlled for over 130 years by nation states and their monopoly phone companies. By ITU attacking ECTA they are not only attacking European consumers but the 240 new entrant phone companies that have been responsible for the introduction of new services and driving down costs in Europe."

ECTA alleges that the ITU refusal is unreasoned, discriminatory and inconsistent with the ITU’s own statutes ? all issues on which the ITU are remaining steadfastly silent despite numerous requests for an explanation from ECTA and it’s lawyers. According to ECTA’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Schumacher, ECTA was told in advance by a well placed ‘third party’ that their Telecoms ’99 application would be refused due to ECTA’s position in the market as a strong ‘competitor’ to the ITU. Ms. Schumacher noted " the fact that the ITU perceives ECTA as opposition rather than colleagues working together toward a similar goal is quite telling. Perhaps the ITU and it’s members do not share the same ideals pertaining to liberalisation of the European market."

ECTA has made their position quite clear. They will continue to act in the best interest of their members and the competitive telecommunications industry. "ECTA has only just begun" says Dombkowski. "Actions such as the ITU’s decision, which reflect a desire to maintain the status quo of days gone by, only serve to reinforce the mission of ECTA and our committed pursuit of a truly competitive telecommunications industry in Europe."

Additional background information:
ECTA (the European Competitive Telecommunications Association)