Pedro Pablo Quirós, is the Chairman of COM/CITEL, the Organization of American States InterAmerican Telecommunications Commission, and President & CEO of Grupo ICE, Costa Rica. Mr Quirós began his career at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) where he is now the Executive President. At ICE Mr Quirós pioneered Costa Rica’s National Telecommunications System. He left ICE to work throughout the world for companies such as General Electric, GTECH, Ascom/Timeplex and ITT among others. He has helped restructure telecommunications companies in more than one hundred countries and developed telecommunications systems in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Mr Quirós studied arts, history, literature, and later Electrical Engineering, specialized in Telecommunications, in the United States and graduated magna cum laude.
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) is an entity of the Organization of American States (OAS). It facilitates and promotes the development of telecommunications in the Americas and coordinates regional efforts to develop the Global Information Society. CITEL works with the ITU to promote programmes for digital, economic and social inclusion throughout the Americas via the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). To this end, it has developed several pilot projects to advance the use of ICTs in rural areas.
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), whose Permanent Executive Committee Costa Rica has the honour to chair until 2010, is an Entity of the Organization of American States (OAS). The main objective of this commission is to facilitate and to promote the continuous development of telecommunications in the Americas. It is also the main forum in the hemisphere in which government and private sector representatives meet to coordinate regional efforts to develop the Global Information Society. The CITEL strives to make telecommunications a catalyst for the dynamic development of the Americas. CITEL coordinates public policies that promote technological innovation, market development, telecommunications infrastructure expansion, and the attainment of technical and regulatory harmonization. During this administration’s tenure we have proposed the implementation of development projects for rural communities. These projects are intended to reduce the digital divide. We have also proposed the establishment of a research and development centre as well as training facilities for the Americas. A cooperation agreement to promote a regional project for reducing the digital divide and building an inclusive information society in the Americas has been signed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and CITEL. The agreement has the following objectives: To conceive central government digital development plans for the development of rural communities and local governments. In smaller digital municipalities or cities the project will assist in establishing local e-governments by offering such applications as distance learning, tele-medicine, e-commerce and the development of small office home office (SOHO), and small and medium enterprises (SMEs); To conceive and design development plans for the installation of community telecenters with basic telephone and Internet access facilities. The electronic mail, chats and information searches are complemented with general education and training programs for the inhabitants; and To plan and design training programmes addressed, in general, to users in local communities. The project aims to foster digital culture in these communities, so they can make intelligent use of ICTs to improve their living conditions. Currently, governments and international institutions alike find it difficult to define goals for Universal Access and Universal Service. Plain old telephony service, once the goal for all universalisation programmes, no longer seems adequate as a goal; broadband Internet access is increasingly viewed as fundamental to economic development, social inclusion and societal welfare. The penetration of telecommunications in rural and backward areas of our countries is critical to ensure their uniform and rapid economic growth. Access to information and communication technology and services brings crucial knowledge to the productive activities of rural and poor households. The Internet gives small rural productive centres access to regional, national and even global markets and, in turn, individuals and enterprises around the world can find or even outsource some of their needs in local markets. Bringing the market to people creates local opportunities and jobs instead of forcing rural inhabitants to leave in search of jobs and markets. Government policies that encourage the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by connecting more areas and greater numbers of people to the telecommunications system generates a variety of positive results and plays a great role in fostering regional development. As of today, the following pilot projects are being implemented in three countries of the hemisphere to serve as reference for the development of similar national projects in the remaining participant countries: Costa Rica - Grecia Digital City and Los Santos Digital Area (two rural localities); Ecuador - Access to ICTs in the northern border region by means of tele-centres; and Uruguay - Telecommuting via the Uruguay Information Society network. The ICT Applications Research and Development Regional Centre intends to develop tele-medicine, tourism support, support SMEs, public safety applications and the like. We are presently seeking support from private sector institutions. In initial conversations, Huawei University, Cisco Systems and Ericsson have shown interest in these activities. The technological convergence and new technologies are creating new opportunities for the sector through the advantages and opportunities they provide to urban and rural areas of the countries themselves. The general objective established for the Digital City of Grecia, Costa Rica, is to provide the inhabitants with timely and unified access to public and private services, to develop mechanisms for democratic participation and social inclusion through the use of information and communication technologies, to stimulate technological development and generate economic growth. The project aims at transforming the city of Grecia into a Special Economic Zone. The project intends to attract technology and research companies based on advantages offered through the use of ICTs, education, infrastructure and quality of life for its citizens. The implementation of a digital city in Costa Rica’s Los Santos area reduces the access gap that exists between urban rural areas by: Implementing the necessary mechanisms to flexibly carry out public and private services transactions; Providing local and global connectivity for all inhabitants of the Los Santos area; Improving the quality of health services in the region (appointments, tele-medicine applications, health bulletins); Introducing and facilitating the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all the schools in the area; Developing a surveillance network for security and disaster response; and Implementing portal applications so that public organization and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) within the area can provide goods, services, and local content. CITEL’s objective is to undertake projects in the field that will have a positive impact on the everyday lives of the citizens of the Americas. We want - CITEL to be a driving force in the development and use of ICTs to resolve some of the hemisphere’s pressing problems. To reduce digital under-development in our societies we are working to increase collaboration among international organizations, the public and private sectors, and civil society. If the region is to successfully incorporate itself into the Information Society and take part fully in what it has to offer, it must coordinate the policies, projects and activities of the region’s various stakeholders - governments, the private sector, and the civil society. Through these efforts, we wish to contribute to the promotion of universal access, to reduce the digital divide and play an active role in social inclusion within the region. The introduction of new services and applications is crucial to foster the growth and development of rural and remote areas. The development and growth of small and medium- scale businesses away from urban centres would greatly improve the economic and social inclusion of rural regions. The growth of small and micro-enterprises has a powerful impact directly upon employment and economic development and indirectly upon health, education and social development both locally and throughout the Americas.