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Building global communication frameworks for all

Every time someone picks up a telephone and dials a number, answers a call on a mobile, sends a fax or receives an e-mail, takes a plane or a ship, listens to the radio or watches a favourite television programme, they benefit from the universal telecommunication frameworks put in place by ITU.

For more than 140 years, the International Telecommunication Union has defined and adopted the globally agreed technical standards that have allowed industry to interconnect people and equipment seamlessly around the world. It has also successfully regulated worldwide use of the radio-frequency spectrum, ensuring all international wireless communications remain interference-free to assure the relay of vital information and economic data to all parts of the globe.

Spearheading telecommunications development on a world scale, ITU fosters the deployment of telecommunications in developing countries also by advising on development policies and strategies and by providing specialized technical assistance in the areas of technology transfer, management, financing, installation and maintenance of networks, disaster mitigation, and on management of human resources.

Founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, ITU took its present name — the International Telecommunication Union — in 1934 and, in 1947, became a specialized agency of the United Nations. Nominated by leading international consultant Booz Allen Hamilton as one of the world’s top 10 most enduring institutions, ITU is also the most inclusive global telecommunications organization.

ITU's biggest achievement is undoubtedly the pivotal role it has played in the creation of the international telecommunications network — the largest man-made artefact ever created. Today, thanks to the advent of the internet, mobile wireless telephony, convergence strategies and more, this network keeps us in touch, brings us world news, provides access to a huge global store of information, and underpins the global economy. It would not exist without ITU's work.

The ITU mission: bringing the benefits of ICT to all the world’s inhabitants

"Its overall constitutional goal is to bring the benefits of ICT to all the world’s inhabitants"

 
 
ITU's mission is to enable the growth and sustained development of telecommunications and information networks, and to facilitate universal access so that people everywhere can participate in, and benefit from, the global information economy and society — thus advancing all people’s "right to communicate".

ITU is an organization whose work underpins all sectors of the economy. It is a public-private partnership organization that can mobilize the technical, financial and human resources needed to bring the benefits of ICT to the world.

Its consensus-based approach gives a voice to all its members and whose work help deploy infrastructure, achieve connectivity, provides efficient telecommunication services worldwide.

Its overall constitutional goal is to bring the benefits of ICT to all the world’s inhabitants.

Driving telecommunications advancement in developing countries

"A public-private partnership organization that can mobilize the technical, financial and human resources needed to bring the benefits of ICT to the world"

 
 
ITU's increasingly important role as a catalyst for forging development partnerships between government and private industry is helping bring about rapid improvements in telecommunication infrastructure in the world's developing economies.

ITU implements projects and advises governments on a wide range of topics that contribute to closing the digital divide and improving access to the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs). ITU has the mandate to monitor progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by tracking a number of telecommunication and ICT related indicators.

ITU supports governments in reforming their ICT sector to create a stable and transparent regulatory framework to attract investment and promote universal access. It gives absolute priority to all telecommunications concerning safety of life before, during, and after disasters. It also offers practical workshops, best practice guidelines and tools to help developing countries automate cost-oriented rate-setting and tariff-rebalancing.

In addition, ITU specialists help train telecommunication engineers, high-level managers, regulators and policy-makers to keep up with technology, policy and regulatory changes. A wide range of e-policies and strategies are also offered to foster e-government, e-health, e-education, e-agriculture and e-commerce in developing countries.

ITU also brokers and implements action plans for ICT development to harness the power of ICTs for socio-economic development.

In addition, ITU regularly publish ICT data and information, including key telecommunication/ICT indicators and statistics, regulatory and policy profiles, national tariff policies, operator information, case studies, and information on financial and scientific institutions. The data and other intelligence compiled by ITU help track the Information Society at the global, regional and country-level, measure the digital divide, and identify major industry trends as well as market potential and investment opportunities. They also monitor and analyse world and regional trends in telecommunication reform and offer vital information for governments developing regulatory frameworks designed to attract investment and improve access to ICT services and networks.

As part of its portfolio of services to Regulators, ITU organizes a highly successful annual Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) which provides a unique forum for the regulatory community, as well as an on-line forum known as the Global Regulators Exchange (G-REX). G-REX gives regulators an opportunity to share experiences and exchange best practice on an on-going basis, with regulators free to pose questions on the G-REX "hotline" and receive responses from their counterparts around the world.

Towards tomorrow's global information infrastructure

"ICT standardization is acknowledged worldwide as a critical factor for new technologies to enter the market quickly, encouraging a fair and open market where innovation thrives and the benefits of technology can be felt by as many people as possible"

 
 
In the technical domain, ITU generates, on average, one telecom standard per day. ITU provided the framework for the growth of new internet-based and convergent technologies such as VoIP, e-commerce, and broadband. Historically, with its number and addressing systems, ITU gave the world direct-dialling. Now it is helping to define the building blocks of the emerging next-generation network (NGN), designing advanced multimedia systems which handle a mix of voice, data, audio and video. By rolling out and operating, on a single network, multiple services including fixed and mobile voice, high-speed Internet and multi-channel digital TV, operators, providers and users are bound to benefit.

And since services effectively run independent of the network and each layer is well defined, NGN means a much more competitive offering among providers, and therefore choice and lower prices for the network operator and consumer while protecting the investments made irrespective of the evolution of services or network technologies. In addition to NGN, home networking, IPTV and the network aspects of identification systems (including RFID) are work areas that have entered the ITU portfolio in the recent past.

As recognized by WSIS, “Standardization is one of the essential building blocks of the Information Society”. ICT standardization is acknowledged worldwide as a critical factor for new technologies to enter the market quickly, encouraging a fair and open market where innovation thrives and the benefits of technology can be felt by as many people as possible. That ITU has been able to continue to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding marketplace is testament to a willingness to adapt, react and move forward while making sure that the needs of its members — in industry and governments — are taken into account.

"ITU’s work ensures that all wireless systems function smoothly and provide reliable services worldwide"

 
 
On the wireless front, ITU fosters an equitable, efficient and economical use of the frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. Radio Regulations — international treaties ratified by ITU Member States — are the basic instruments for ITU to coordinate worldwide efforts to ensure reliable communications across countries and across services.

From fixed and mobile wireless services to aeronautical communications, from broadcasting and meteorology to global positioning systems, space research and communication services that ensure the safety of life at sea — all require radio frequency spectrum to operate, and a coordinated use of frequencies to avoid harmful interference.

ITU manages the radio frequency spectrum which ensures all these radio-based systems — 3G phones, aircraft and maritime navigation systems, scientific research stations, satellite communication systems and radio and television broadcasting — function smoothly and provide reliable wireless services to the world.

ITU also develops technical recommendations on the characteristics of radiocommunication services and systems, which serve as a basis for equipment manufacturing worldwide.

ITU TELECOM events

"ITU TELECOM events have a unique track record in bringing together governments, industry, operators, investors and other key players in telecommunications to debate, discuss and analyse the latest trends."

 
 
ITU TELECOM events have a unique track record in bringing together governments, industry, operators, investors and other key players in telecommunications to debate, discuss and analyse the latest trends. ITU TELECOM WORLD and ITU TELECOM regional events are held every year on a rotating basis, to ensure all regions benefit from access to the very latest new technologies and ideas.

ITU TELECOM events are a key element in an even more important goal: furthering telecommunications development efforts around the world. ITU TELECOM helps promote this cause by providing a global and regional forum where industry and government representatives from developed and developing countries can meet under one roof and build partnerships which bring mutual benefits. ITU ELECOM also fosters knowledge transfer by showcasing the very latest equipment, services and industry leaders.

Since the first event in 1971, ITU TELECOM WORLD events have attracted more than 900’000 visitors and have provided a showcase and platform for over 7’000 exhibitors. The next ITU TELECOM event will be held in Africa in 2008.

Bringing everyone within easy reach of ICTs

Whether through developing the standards used to create infrastructure to deliver telecommunications services on a worldwide basis, through equitable management of the radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbit to help bring wireless services to every corner of the world, or through providing support to countries as they pursue telecommunication development strategies, every element of ITU’s work is centred around the goal of putting every human being in the world within easy and affordable reach of information and communications and to contribute significantly to the economic and social development of all people. Just as it has done for more than 140 years, ITU remains dedicated to helping the world communicate.

 


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Updated : 2009-01-19