Sir Donald Maitland

Sir Donald Maitland, the Scottish diplomat, has passed away. He is best known in the ICT world as the Chairman of the Independent Commission for World-Wide Telecommunications Development. The Commission was responsible for producing The Missing Link in 1984. The report was seminal in highlighting the huge gap in telecommunications around the world:
“...we concluded unanimously that the gross and growing imbalance in the distribution of telecommunications throughout the world was not tolerable...neither in the name of common humanity nor on grounds of common interest is such a disparity acceptable.”

During that pre-Internet time, telecommunications referred to the fixed line telephone and broadcasting which were seen as key factors “... in economic, commercial and social activity and as a prime source of cultural enrichment.” At the time of the report, ¾'s of the some 600 million telephones were in nine developed nations. The link has been found in mobile: a quarter century after the report was published there were 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions with China and India alone accounting for over ¼. More importantly The Missing Link will be remembered for its ground breaking impact of raising awareness among policy-makers about the importance of telecommunications for “enjoying the full benefits of the so-called ‘information society’.”

Independent Commission for World-Wide Telecommunications Development. 1984. The Missing Link. Geneva: ITU.
Sir Donald Maitland." The Telegraph. 25 August 2010.
Remembering Donald Maitland." ITU News. September 2010.