Table of Contents
2 The Concept
2.1 The birth of the Trans-Sector concept
This story began in May 2005 when, at a conference in Adelaide, Australia, I spoke about the social and economic benefits of broadband. Senator Stephen Conroy (now the Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy) was present on that occasion, and he responded enthusiastically to my vision on this subject.
My message was that we need to look outside the box if we want to achieve the national benefits that broadband has to offer – and that it has everything to do with e-health, e-learning, smart grids and smart cities. I stressed that we needed to develop policies that would allow us to build these national services on top of broadband. Broadband needs to be seen and treated by the government as essential national infrastructure; a utility for the digital economy.
This is known as the trans-sector concept and such a policy must also underpin all new infrastructure projects, so as to create an economic multiplier effect. In addition, my message was that, since the government is (at least indirectly, and in many cases directly) in control of most of the relevant sectors, they need to show leadership.
To educate and support governments on these trans-sector plans I organised large-scale industry groups (in Australia the Digital Economy Industry Work Group, and in the USA and internationally the Big Think Strategies Group) In true digital fashion we operate as virtual teams, providing ideas and submissions for government policies and further support in generating concrete ideas to implement plans.
This concept was also discussed at two government led broadband missions; one from the Netherlands to Australia (see picture below) in 2006 and a return visit in 2007 to the Netherlands.
Netherlands Australia Broadband Seminar - April 2006
The Hon. Helen Coonan - Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts, Australia, Paul Budde, Mr Niek van Zutphen - Netherlands Ambassador to Australia, Mr Dr Jan Peter Balkenende - Netherlands Prime Minister.
Photo: Anya van Lit
2.2 Australia - one of the first countries to develop Trans-Sector policies
In 2007 the Labor Government came into power in Australia and a year later its $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) was announced.
Both the then Prime Minister and the Minister for Broadband understood and accepted the trans-sector concept; however it was rather more difficult to convince some of the other Ministers. The problem we faced was that these Ministers adopted a silo approach, judging the matter to be related to communications policies – that it had ‘nothing to do with my Department’.
The industry formed a CEO Team to discuss with these Ministers the potential social and economic benefits involved in taking a trans-sectoral approach to policy-making.
2.3 Smart Grids and E-Health - the first Trans-Sector projects
Smart grids were an early target area for the trans-sector approach. From previous dealings with his own Department I knew that the Prime Minister was interested in the concept of smart grids. Due to the challenge of the silo-based environment in Australia it was clear that if we were to make any progress we needed the PM to take on a leadership role.
Then in April 2009, at 12 noon on a Tuesday, I received a call from the Prime Minister’s office, asking if I could get a smart grid proposal to him by 1.30 that afternoon.
I should mention here that from 2001 I had been working with the electricity utilities and, under the cooperative industry banner of UtiliTel, we had explored communications opportunities for these utilities.
In 2006 our focus had changed and in early 2008 I founded Smart Grid Australia. We now have some 70 blue-chip members, including 12 universities.
And so, on receiving the PM’s telephone call in relation to what is now known as the Smart City/Smart Grid project, I was able to quickly tap into this group and by 1.30pm our plan for a smart grid project was on his desk.
We asked for $50 million and we got $100 million. And it became a truly trans-sector operation, with the project being led by the Department of the Environment, assisted by the Department of Resources, Energy Tourism and the Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy.
It is now written into the legislation that this demonstration project will result in a national rollout of smart grids. In 2010 the project was awarded to a consortium led by EnergyAustralia (now renamed Ausgrid).
Smart Grid Australia is also a founding member, and Paul a founding board member of the Global Smart Grid Federation, which was formally launched in Washington in 2010 (see picture below).
Members of the Global Smart Grid Federation, Washington 2010
After the government passed legislation that will see all Australians receiving an e-health identifier (for the purpose of e-patient dossiers) two private initiatives were launched to implement e-health services via the NBN; one project for 17,000 doctors and one in conjunction with 28,000 retirement villages.
The government also made changes to the national health insurance legislation (Medicare). This will allow the medical sector to offer a video-based consultancy service that will be covered under the health insurance scheme.
3 Activities in Other Countries
3.1 Support from Obama and the FCC
The trans-sector/open network approach has captured the attention of other governments also. In late 2008 and early 2009 I worked closely with the Obama Transition Team, and their activities led to, among other things, multi-billion dollar stimulus packages for NBN and smart grid projects based on the open network concept.
I also met with the FCC and there is now a trans-sector team installed in their offices (National Purpose). In October 2009 I was invited to a meeting in the White House to provide an international update on these developments.
3.2 Trans-Sector innovations in the Netherlands
Paul Budde presents the report on trans-sector innovations to the Dutch Minister Frank Heemskerk
In June of that year I had a meeting with Minister Frank Heemskerk in the Netherlands and I have since produced a report for the Ministry Of Economic Affairs on Trans-sectoral Innovation. This report is freely available for download: Reflections on trans-sector innovation (PDF 238Kb).
I was also invited by the Dutch Government to present at the prestigious World Congress on IT (WCIT) in Amsterdam in May 2010.
3.3 New Zealand
The New Zealand Government is also involved in the Big Think Strategies Group, with Minister Steven Joyce taking a leadership role in developments in that country.
I have had several meetings with the Minister and we prepared submissions on the concept of broadband for trans-sector purposes.
3.4 The United Kingdom
In addition, the British Government invited me to present at a seminar it organised in London in July 2010 and February 2011 in relation to developments and business opportunities for British organisations around the Australian NBN.
At this event I took the opportunity of giving further information to the British audience about the broadband model that is being pursued by the Australian Government.
3.5 United Nations puts its weight behind Trans-Sector
We can also add the United Nations, the OECD and the ITU to this group of trans-sector supporters. Following my discussions in Geneva with the ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré in October 2009 that organisation has also adopted a trans-sector policy, which the Secretary-General is passionately advocating in his meetings with the various governments around the world.
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development in session, ITU headquarters, Geneva
The involvement of the ITU, and in particular that of the Secretary-General, has led to the ITU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) establishing a Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
This Commission promotes the use of high-speed broadband communication networks worldwide to help accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. Agreed to by all United Nations Member States in the year 2000, most of the MDGs remain off target, particularly in developing countries, due to the current climate of global economic downturn.
The Commission has the full backing of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and is co-chaired by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Mr Carlos Slim, with ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I Touré and UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova holding the vice-chairs.
The Commission is made up of a group of eminent global leaders from government, business, civil society and international organisations, who will serve as commissioners. It presented its recommendation and reports to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
A Resolution of the UN General Assembly in New York not only recognised the importance of ICTs to global socio-economic development, but specifically cites the important work of the Broadband Commission in helping ensure that the harnessing the full potential of broadband connectivity and content is made a global priority.
I am lead author of the report Broadband - A Platform for Progress which was presented by the Broadband Commission to the United Nations. The final report was launched at a meeting of the Commission at the headquarters of the UNESO in Paris in June 2011.
Paul presents the Broadband Commission report to Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General and Vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development
Paul in discussion with the ex Prime Minster of the UK Gordon Brown during the meeting in New York
In 2011 I was appointed special advisor to the Commission.
4 Briefing International Investment Houses
As part of BuddeComm’s consultancy activities we provide briefings, updates and presentations on the abovementioned developments to governments, industry and other interested organisations. In 2010 several international briefing tours are taking place at European and Asian investment houses.
The major theme of these meetings was the industry transformation that is taking place in the wake of these above mentioned activities and the effect that this has on investors. On the one side the possible negative effects of such a major industry change and on the other side the new business opportunities for those in the industry who embrace the change.
5 BuddeComm proud of the part it is playing
Of course there is still a great deal of work in progress and the industry transformation and trans-sector developments will take decades to evolve. However in the countries that will be leading the charge the first signs of change will start to become visible from 2015 onwards.
We are proud of the part we have played in raising awareness of the trans-sector model. We believe it to be one of the most significant developments in today’s telecommunications arena – a development that will move the industry in a completely new direction and offer tremendous new business opportunities, and at the same time give the new digital economy an enormous boost.
Images from the first meeting of the Broadband Commission
Other images are available at the ITU's Filckr page
Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General and Vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development; H.E. Mr Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Co-chair of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development; Hon. Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy; Paul Budde at the First Broadband Commission of Digital Development meeting, ITU headquarters, Geneva
Paul Budde (on right) at the First Broadband Commission of Digital Development meeting, ITU headquarters, Geneva
Highlights of the first meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, Geneva, Switzerland, July 11 2010.
Paul Budde speaking at the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in Geneva
Other delegate videos are available at the Broadband Commission's YouTube channel
Other videos by Paul Budde are available at Paul Budde's YouTube channel
6 Related Reports