KUNMING, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA - Telecommunications operators and government telecommunications agencies from the six countries sharing the Mekong River today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate in planning and construction of the GMS Information Superhighway Network (ISN). It was a follow-up to the signing of the MOU among the governments of six countries on the joint cooperation in the construction of the ISN in December 2004.
Given the increasing telecommunications traffic, the six countries - Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam - have been harnessing information and communications technology (ICT) in promoting effective Greater Mekong Subregion integration.
Under the MOU, the GMS countries will establish an "implementation group committee" comprising the representatives of telecommunications operators. The GMS ISN involves ICT infrastructure planning and development and improvement of service quality to bridge the digital divide. The implementation group committee will undertake the following tasks:
- Planning of GMS ISN and reach a common understanding on the steps forward;
- Construction of the GMS ISN and provision of the relevant telecommunications service;
- Development of a range of services and applications based on the construction network facilities.
Telecommunications is an important factor in the development process and an essential tool for addressing poverty reduction and economic growth. It has a dual role as a traded service and a vehicle for trade in other service sectors. An efficient telecommunications sector will facilitate transfer of information at the lowest possible cost, and boost trade, incomes, and national benefits. The direct linkage between poverty reduction and access to telecommunications services is increasingly becoming apparent with the rapid development of the Internet technology.
Under the GMS program, the six countries are making efforts to integrate subregional programs and projects with national development plans; establish physical infrastructure; and link infrastructure development at the national level to address the needs of local community and the rural poor.