World Telecommunications Day celebrates the constant evolution of one of the most important factors of our lives: communication. The main goal of World Telecommunications Day (WTD) is to highlight the importance of communication and how information travels across the world. It also aims to increase awareness of how crucial communication is in our lives, and stimulate the development of technologies in the field.

Learn about World Telecommunications Day

The World Telecommunications Day is in tight connections with the International Telegraph Union (ITU), the committee formed in 1865 to support the emerging communication methods of the time. ITU was present throughout all the great breakthroughs in communication – the invention of the telephone in 1876, the launch of the first satellite in 1957, and, ultimately, the birth of the Internet in the 60s.

Even though The International Telegraph Union has since changed its name to International Telecommunications Union, it still remains the most important entity in the field of communications, thus remaining in the spotlight at World Telecommunications Day.

The purpose of World Telecommunications Day is to help increase awareness of the possibilities that technology brings. The focus is on the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT). We use the day to look at the different benefits ICT has had on economies and societies, as well as looking for ways to keep bridging the digital divide. 

Some interesting facts about telecommunications

Before we delve deeper into the history of this date and the different ways that you can celebrate World Telecommunications Day, let’s take a look at some fascinating telecommunications facts that are assured to surprise you…

  • The first text message that was ever sent was by Neil Papworth. It was a festive one as well, stating “Merry Christmas”
  • The first-ever VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, was made in December 1974
  • The most common use of mobile phones is to check the time
  • Telephone wires have been ranked based on how tasty mice find them; the tastier the telephone wire, the less likely it was used
  • The Nokia tone for getting an SMS text message is actually Morse code for SMS
  • It took around one year to connect the first phone line between San Francisco and New York
  • The telephone is the most profitable invention in the history of the United States 

History of World Telecommunications Day

World Telecommunications Day has been celebrated every year since the 17th of May in 1969. This date has been chosen because it is the same date as when the International Telegraph Union was founded. This happened when the first International Telegraph Convention was signed in Paris on the 17th of May 1865. The event was formally instituted in 1973 in Malaga-Torremolinos, Spain, at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Even year, a topical theme is selected, and there are events that occur around the globe in order to celebrate World Telecommunications Day.

Because of the increasing importance of telecommunications and information technology, particularly the Internet, it was recognized that the topic must be brought to the attention of the public. Because of this, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) requested for the UN General Assembly  in 2005 to declare the date of May the 17th as World Information Society Day. the purpose of this was so that the importance of these technologies was focused on, as well as a number of different related economic and social issues that the summit had raised. In March 2006, the UN General Assembly resolved that World Information Society Day would indeed happen annually on the 17th of May. Nevertheless, later in the same year, it was determined in Antalya, Turkey, at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference that both celebrations would be combined as the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which a lot of people shorten to WTISD. 

As touched upon, there is a different theme that is chosen every year in order to celebrate World Telecommunications Day. The first theme that was chosen in 1969 was The ITU: Get to know the ITU. Since then, we have a number of different exciting themes, for example, Telecommunications and Health was the chosen theme for 1981. In 2018, the theme was Enabling the Positive Use of Artificial Intelligence for AII. In 2017, the theme was Big Data for Big Impact. Women and Girls in ICT was a critical theme in 2012, and we also had Protecting Children in Cyberspace as the theme for 2009. As you can see, there are some really diverse yet equally important themes that are at the center of this important day. It is certainly worth doing a bit of research so you can discover more about the different themes.

How to celebrate World Telecommunications Day

There are a number of different things that you can do in order to celebrate World Telecommunications Day. We would certainly recommend looking at the theme for the year, and you can then do some further research into this. The themes every year are important, yet they are very broad too, which means there is no shortage of the different things that you can learn about. This is the perfect opportunity for you to broaden your knowledge of all things communications related. 

You can also use this day to pay tribute to people who have had a massive impact on the telecommunications and technology industry. There are so many incredible men and women who have made a difference. Why not spend some time learning about some of these people? You could share information about them on your blog or social media pages in order to pay tribute to the work that they have done. For example, one woman who is a recognizable name in telecommunications is Shirley Ann Jackson. She was the first African-American to get a doctorate from MIT, collecting a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in the 1970s. However, this only marked the start of her achievements. In 1999, she became the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s 18th president. This is the United States’ oldest technological research university, having been established in 1824. 

Why not celebrate World Telecommunications Day by making the most of these amazing technologies that we have the ability to use with such ease? For example, why not give one of your friends a call on Skype who you have not spoken to for quite some time? This is a great way to honor World Telecommunications Day, and you may even find that you end up with a new appreciation for the different technologies that we can use to enhance our day-to-day living. 

Finally, the work is not over when it comes to telecommunications. There are a lot of rural and remote areas that are not able to access the telecommunications that we are. Of course, third-world countries do not have access to the same level of technology that we do. It is certainly worth looking into the different projects that are going on. You may even be able to sign-up to a project so that you can contribute, whether this means making a donation, donating your time, or spreading the word!

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