ITU Telecom is part of the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs. ITU Telecom organizes the global ITU Telecom World event, the platform for innovation showcasing, high-level debate, knowledge-sharing and networking for the governments, industry leaders, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and regulators that form part of the world’s ICT community. The first ITU Telecom event was held in 1971. Since its fortieth anniversary in 2011, ITU Telecom World has been held on an annual basis in a different location worldwide.
ITU Telecom World 2018 will take place in Durban, South Africa, from 10 – 13 September 2018, focusing on innovation in technology, strategy and policy for a smarter world.
In 1985, the ITU Telecom staged its first regional telecommunication exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region – Asia Telecom85. This was followed the next year by its first regional event in the Africa region — Africa Telecom86. Regional telecommunication exhibitions continued with the first such events in the Americas region — Americas Telecom 88 and in the Europe region - Europa Telecom 1992. Telecom events were held on a regional or global basis every year, adopting the ITU Telecom World name for the first time at the Geneva event in 2003. The final event to be held in this format was ITU Telecom World 2009 which was attended by over 2,250 VIPs, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, Ambassadors, heads of regulatory agencies, and CEOs from around the world. Through a series of top-level roundtables, meetings and debates, the event addressed pressing issues such as climate change, global economic recovery and cybersecurity.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the event, ITU Telecom World 2011 introduced a new format focused on facilitating knowledge sharing, networking, deal-making and consensus.building, with 6500 industry professionals taking part. ITU Telecom World 2012 took place in Dubai, where it was hosted by the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. The event moved to Bangkok, Thailand, for ITU Telecom World 2013, and to Doha, Qatar, for ITU Telecom World 2014.
ITU Telecom World 2015 took place from 12–15 October 2015 in Budapest, Hungary, on the central theme of Accelerating ICT Innovation for Social Impact, as part of the event's aim to make lives everywhere better, sooner. The event was notable for its strategic shift to focus on the importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in driving innovation in local markets in developed and emerging markets. SMEs, startups, entrepreneurs, accelerators and incubators from around the world exhibited innovative solutions, joined Forum debates and took part in targeted networking, pitching and capacity building sessions. The inaugural ITU Telecom World Entrepreneurship Awards were launched at the event, recognising excellence in SME ICT innovation for social impact.
ITU Telecom World 2016 took place from 14–17 November in Bangkok, Thailand, on the central theme of Collaborating in the Digital Economy. The event built on the momentum of ITU Telecom World 2015 to extend its focus on fostering the growth of SMEs in the ICT industry, including the second edition of the ITU Telecom World Awards recognising excellence and innovation in ICT solutions with social impact.
ITU Telecom World 2017 took place in the pioneering smart city of Busan, Republic of Korea, from 25 – 28 September 2017, with its focus on driving growth in the digital economy and socio-economic development globally by actively connecting SMEs, governments and large businesses throughout the ICT ecosystem. Under the theme of Smart Digital Transformation, Global Opportunities, it featured an exhibiton of digital solutions, a world-class Forum of debates, a full programme of networking activities, and the third edition of the ITU Telecom World Awards.