ARNET preparatory meeting for WSIS

Within the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) preparation, the Arab Regulatory Network (ARNET) held an unofficial meeting at the premises of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) in the Smart Village on 29 September 2005. The Arab regulators discussed the projects status, the attained achievements and obstacles to implementation, if any, and the suggested solutions.

At the beginning of the meeting, the members unanimously chose a logo for the ARNET. This was followed by an elaboration on the part of Eng Aly Al-Ghadbany on the current developments taking place in Tunis in preparation of the WSIS. Eng. Aly Al-Ghadbany stated that the GSR meetings which are to precede the summit will focus on the following issues:

- VoIP and 3G networks technology
- Internet Security
- Management of scarce resources , spearheaded by the frequency spectrum
- High flow

Participants reviewed developments taking place on the ARNET arena with special focus on its role in the preparation of the WSIS. The ARNET prepared an official document which reflects the Arab regulators’ viewpoint on issues addressed by the WSIS and the document was included in the Arab action plan submitted to the summit. As for further preparations, ARNET will prepare several multimedia tools, through which mission, goals and achievements of the ARNET will be crystallized in the summit

At the end of the meeting, the attendees agreed that the ARNET members will meet next December to resume the follow-up of the suggested projects.

Participating countries:

- Egypt
- Jordan
- Bahrain
- Tunis
- Algeria
- Saudi Arabia
- Palestine
- Morocco

ARNET comprises as well telecommunications regulators in the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Comoros, Djibouti, and Mauritania.

Projects carried out by the ARNET:

1-The Website:
Algeria handles the construction, supervision and update of the ARNET website. The website is to provide information to the regulators and investors on the objectives, achievements of the ARNET as well as on the latest developments and investment opportunities in the Arab world.

2- The Arabic Guide:
This project, implemented by Jordan, focuses on the provision of an explanatory document detailing terminologies used in telecommunications and information technology regulation in the Arab world. A linguistic definition of these terminologies will be issued in Arabic in order to have a unified definition thereof in the Arab world.

3-Arab Markets Indices:
This project provides information and data to help ARNET members in the decision-making process. Indices reflect the development in the Arab countries in areas of telecommunications and information technology.

4- Investment portfolios:
The Investment portfolio lists all Arab investment opportunities in telecom sector. An application form has been prepared to compile all information related to the present status of the Arab markets in addition to the available and future investment opportunities. This application form will be given to all members. ARNET website includes these data under Data-Tech link. 

5- Licenses:
This project provides the basic information related to the licensing of different services in telecom sector in the Arab countries, in a way that maintains security and transparency. 

This project provides the basic information on interconnection, interconnection directives and regulations. It highlights as well the foundation needed to develop the business and the legal and technical aspects thereof.

7- Universal Service:
This project provides basic instructions that guarantee successful implementation of universal service projects. The project includes as well a document on best practices in this regard.
This project was divided into 11 phases of implementation. The expected deliverables and timeframes were determined. Jordan and Syria submitted a report on their experience in this regard. The experiences will be taken into consideration on comparing the economic indices of the Arab countries to the international indices.

This project elaborates on the basic concepts related to the implementation of free competition policies with the aim of reaching a common ground for the definition of markets and monopolistic practices. The project aims as well at setting a general framework that guarantees competitiveness. 

This project provides fundamental information on pricing methods applied in the Arab countries in order to reach the most suitable and applicable method that would regulate the pricing of telecom services.

This project sets a unified regulatory frame for dispute resolution to act as a guiding reference to the Arab regulatory bodies for the preparation and development of the dispute resolution mechanisms. 

11- Telecom equipment standardization:
Based on the Arab and European experience in area of standardization, this project is an attempt to standardize the operation of telecom equipment. This project aims at narrowing the digital divide between the Arab countries in order to create a common regional market.

12-Quality of Service:
The project is a technical description for the quality of service with the aim of enhancing the service provided by the Arab countries. It is an attempt as well to have unified and ever updated indices for quality measurement.

13- Type Approval:
This project sets a general framework for type approvals of telecom and information technology equipment, in a way that protects customers and networks at the same time.

14-Health and Safety standards:
This project provides certain instructions and guidelines on the impact of exposure to electromagnetic fields transmitted from wireless equipment. This helps identify health, public and environmental safety standards. 
Workshops are being organized through this project in order to exchange expertise and viewpoints on ARNET projects.

16- Experiences and Experts’ database:
A database is constructed on the ARNET website, including information on all experts in this field, whether from the regulatory bodies or Arab citizens in order to make full use of these data.

17- Online interactive forum:
An online interactive forum for ARNET members provides them with a platform for discussion, consultation and meeting online.

18- A model administrative structure & human development system:
This project defines the general frameworks and basic concepts for a model administrative structure that can be used a reference for the countries that need to establish a regulatory authority.

19-A detailed capacity-building plan:
This project presents an explanatory document and a detailed plan of action for capacity-building, learning and transferring the know-how to all members.