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World Telecommunication Day has come and gone. Yet, of this important day (May 17th) I was completely unaware.I merely glanced at my AT&T calendar on the wall one day (after the fact, of course) and s...


July 1, 2002  


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World Telecommunication Day has come and gone. Yet, of this important day (May 17th) I was completely unaware.

I merely glanced at my AT&T calendar on the wall one day (after the fact, of course) and saw a mention of it there in tiny print. So, I decided to do some research into the whole affair to see if it was highly publicized and if anyone else knew about it.

I started by putting out the feelers to several industry insiders — consultants, vendors, contractors and end users — to learn whether or not they knew of the date, and if they acknowledged the event in any way.

Surprisingly, no one else seemed to be in the know. The responses I got back varied from: “I was blissfully unaware!” to “Darn, I missed the parade and fireworks and didn’t see the cards at the Hallmark display.” Yet, given that my contacts were largely North American, I began to wonder: was it just a lack of awareness on our side of the world?

So I went online to seek a bit further. And lo and behold there was mention (although brief) of the event on sites in countries ranging from Sweden and Germany to India and Sri Lanka.

Then I struck gold. I came across the web site belonging to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland (http://www.itu.int). The site had an abundance of information on this year’s event, which was titled: “ICT for all: empowering people to cross the Digital Divide.”

The ITU called the event “an excellent opportunity [for countries] to launch public campaigns and advocacy activities in favour of equal access to ICT [information and communications technologies] for all those who find themselves at an information disadvantage.”

I also found a note, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on the United Nations site that stated: “On World Telecommunication Day, let us resolve to bridge the digital divide between countries, between rural and urban areas, between rich and poor, between educated and illiterate populations, and between men and women.”

Nicely put, but did anyone hear those words over here? Well if they did they were certainly not loud and clear.

So whose fault is that? Canada for not taking as active role as it should? The organizers of the event for not better publicizing the day? Or maybe just a telecommunications sector in upheaval that feels no need to celebrate at the present?

Regardless of where the communication problem lies, I for one think that World Telecommunication Day may be just what the doctor ordered right now. In an uncertain economy, when spending is in a holding pattern, and where the layoff axe is still managing to chop, a day to celebrate why we are all in this industry would be a very good thing indeed.

So next year, instead of gardening or golfing, perhaps we should, as a country, plan to mark World Telecommunication Day. After all, we would really be celebrating ourselves, those around the world who care as much about the business as we do, and those who our actions might ultimately help.


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