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 Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is organizing a lunchtime parallel session on Developing a Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) that will take place in Geneva on Thursday 22 September 2005, from 13.30 – 14.45 hours at the UN Palais des Nations, Room IX, during PrepCom-3.

The Digital Opportunity Index is specifically mandated in the WSIS Plan of Action (para 28a). In this session, ITU will present a proposed methodology for the DOI, tested on 40 economies. The initial results are shown in the report Measuring Digital Opportunity, which was presented at the recent WSIS Thematic Meeting on Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Bridging the Digital Divide, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. More information on the methodology is available on the Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) website.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 1:37:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 05, 2005

The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) takes place this November in Tunisia. The third meeting of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom-3 of the Tunis phase) will be held in Geneva from 19-30 September under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and is certain to attract many high-level participants from the world of ICTs (information and communication technologies).

With support from SDC, GKP, and UNDP-APDIP, dev.tv intends to take advantage of this gathering to stage a one-hour televised debate on whether ICTs can effectively help lift people out of poverty. The debate will be broadcast on BBC World to 275 million homes worldwide, and will also be streamed over the internet during the week of the WSIS.

Monday, September 05, 2005 7:34:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Roget Darlington points to a thoughtful speech on the future of content regulation, including broadcasting over the internet, by Richard Hooper, Deputy Chairman of the UK's Ofcom and Chairman of Ofcom's Content Board.

Monday, September 05, 2005 11:16:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Among other things, the report makes scenario-based demand projections focusing on the next 10 years but extending to 20 years, for cellular, fixed link, broadband wireless access, satellite and terrestrial TV broadcasting services, while concentrating on the major uses and users of spectrum below 15GHz.

For the full report click here.

This story was accessed through Roger Darlington's weblog.

Monday, September 05, 2005 11:09:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An article recently published through China Radio International (CRI) states that China is working on a program to launch a telecom popularization service fund.

According to an official of the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry, a common understanding on the launch of the fund has been reached, but there is so far no related timetable. This statement was made public at a seminar jointly sponsored by the ministry and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The article went further on to stating some of the outstanding questions that will need to be considered, including; "Where are the sources of the fund? How to use the fund? Who will benefit from the fund?"

"The telecom popularization fund means any person is able to afford telecom services at any place, and such service should take identical charge. China's Telecom Regulations also provide that telecom service operators shall implement telecom popularization services according to related stipulations of the state. The country has earlier set a goal of making all villages have access to telecom service by 2010 and making all households have access to telecom service by 2020. The telecom service access project was kicked off at the beginning of 2004, and by the end of July 2005, telecom service had reached 19,609 villages formerly without such access, which represented 52 per cent of the total task volume."

"China at present has six telecom operators, namely China Telecom, China Mobile, China Netcom, China Unicom, China Railcom, and China Satcom. They jointly shoulder the task of making all villages have access to telecom service. According to the plan, telephone service will reach 95 per cent of all administrative villages in the country by the end of 2005. But it still remains a question as to how telecom service will reach the remaining 5 per cent of villages. Some experts have proposed the establishment of a telecom popularization service fund to undertake the task."

To access the full article, click here.

China Radio International (CRI) is one of the "three central media organizations in China" along with China National Radio (CNR) and China Central Television (CCTV).

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 11:07:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, looks into the possibility to end RFID licence fees as an attempt to boost RFID development. RFID licence fees may be scrapped after Ofcom launched a consultation on making the technology available free of charge to supply chain users. Currently anyone developing or testing the technology has to pay an annual fee of £50 for every site that uses it.

"The European Conference of Telecommunications and Postal Administrations recommended last year that RFID be made free of charge to encourage further adoption. Ofcom is now seeking to allow RFID users to utilise the standard 865-868MHz radio frequency without payment."

René de Sousa, senior procurement specialist at CIPS, said: 'This can only be to the benefit of a more integrated use of technology and increase business efficiency and effectiveness.' He added that a Europe-wide exemption from fees would also aid the technology’s take-up. David Lyon, business manager for RFID standards body EPCglobal, said it would make trials cheaper and easier. 'It’s an administration and cost headache to get a licence,' he said. Tesco said it had anticipated the move and was already using the standard for its RFID trial."

"Chris Hopper, marketing manager at RFID printer manufacturer Printronix, said the plan would help to close the gap in adoption between Europe and the US. 'Legislative uncertainty has been one of the primary barriers to adoption.'"

Ofcom's consultation period runs until 12 September.

For the full article featured in the SupplyManagement TechZone online magazine, click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:52:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, August 27, 2005

The ITU Standardization Bureau, ITU-T, hosted the 36th Joint Picture Experts Group (JPEG) Meeting, held in Geneva between July 18-22.

The JPEG, formed many years ago jointly by ITU-T Study Group 16 and ISO/IEC JTC1 Study Group 29, is renowned for its JPEG and JPEG-2000 image compression standards.

In ITU-T, Study Group 16 is home to all media coding work, such as the H-Series of Recommendations, and includes work done together with ISO/IEC's JPEG, and JPEG-2000 groups in image compression, as well as work done with MPEG in developing video compression standards such as H.264. ISO/IEC JTC1 SG 29 is the focal point in ISO/IEC JTC1 for image, video and audio compression standards. The meeting surveyed the progress of technologies broached in the previous JPEG meeting, held in Lisbon in March 2005, including image security in JPEG-2000 which is being addressed by JPEG’s JPSEC ad hoc group. The group is developing a standard that will enable protected images to retain JPEG-2000 system features, such as scalability. This new feature within JPEG images will allow international distribution of digital images containing encrypted content, while still retaining the ability to adaptively deliver content for a wide variety of devices with varying display capabilities. The meeting also followed up on JPEG’s Digital Cinema ad hoc group and its advances in developing profiles for JPEG-2000 digital cinema applications. The Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) organization has adopted JPEG-2000 for future distribution of digital movies to theatres. JPEG is working closely with the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) to standardize aspects of this future architecture.

The Video and Image Coding and Applications (VICA) workshop, 22-23 July 2005, which followed the ITU-T-hosted JPEG meeting, aimed to build upon the presence of JPEG and ITU-T SG 16 experts (who met July 26 - August 5 this year). The workshop reviewed existing video and image compression standards, their current applications, and future directions in the field.

More information on the workshop can be found here.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 8:31:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Standards that may accelerate the adoption of VoIP in corporate environments and resolve an issue that has slowed down the adoption of videoconferencing have been completed by ITU-T.

The standards from ITU-T’s multimedia Study Group (Study Group 16) provide a robust and easy to implement solution that will allow any H.323 based system communicating on an IP network to more easily communicate across the boundary imposed by NAT or firewalls (FW).

Videoconferencing and VoIP have long been plagued with problems when trying to work across network address translation (NAT) and firewall boundaries. Despite previous attempts to address the issue, no standardized way of dealing with the problem has emerged until now. 

Without the ITU solution many network managers and operators have found that the only way to allow inbound VoIP calls in a firewall-protected environment is to leave a permanent hole from the outside world, open a range of port numbers for VoIP use, or locate devices outside of the firewall. Clearly, these solutions violate even the most basic security policies. 

Recommendation H.460.18 enables H.323 devices to exchange signalling and establish calls, even when they are placed inside a private network behind NAT/FW devices. These extensions, when used together with Recommendation H.460.19, which defines NAT/FW traversal for media, enable upgraded H.323 endpoints to traverse NAT/FW installations with no additional equipment on the customer premises. Alternatively, the H.460.18 and H.460.19 functionality may be implemented in a proxy server, so that unmodified H.323 endpoints can also benefit from it.

Work on the related Recommendation H.248.37 was also finished at the Study Group meeting. Session border controllers (SBCs) are becoming an important part of the Internet infrastructure, and some SBCs are being split into media gateway controller (MGC) and media gateway (MG) components. One important function of a SBC is to perform network address and port translation (NAPT). H.248.37 allows the MGC to instruct a MG to latch to an address provided by an incoming Internet Protocol (IP) application data stream, rather than the address provided by the call/bearer control. This enables the MG to open a pinhole for data flow, and hence allow connections to be established. 

As well as these ITU-T Recommendations, Study Group 16 will shortly publish two technical papers on the topic: The Requirements for Network Address Translator and Firewall Traversal of H.323 Multimedia Systems and Firewall and NAT traversal Problems in H.323 Systems.

Via the ITU-T Newslog.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 8:24:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 25, 2005

Recommendation H.460.20 consented at the last Study Group 16 meeting solves the problem of how to provide location information in calls generated to/from H.323 systems. The Recommendation allows these systems – such as VoIP or videoconferencing – to convey information that could be a URL, an e-Mail, a postal code, or a mobile telephone number. This is much more than can be achieved with a traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) call.

Currently calls generated or terminated in H.323 systems do not carry - end-to-end – details of where that call is coming from. This information is needed by the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for emergency services, more accurate billing and for routing the call. Additionally it is useful, for instance, in applications such as telemarketing where calls can be routed according to their origin. 

Technically H.460.20 gives H.323 the ability to convey the location number present in ISUP – the system that determines the set-up, co-ordination and taking down of calls. Without this ability location information is lost at the interworking edge between the IP network and the PSTN. An additional benefit is that it simplifies interworking with the session initiation protocol (SIP).

Via the ITU-T Newslog.

Thursday, August 25, 2005 9:15:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 08, 2005

Lessons from broadband development in Canada, Japan, Korea and the United States by Rob FRIEDEN, Telecommunications Policy Volume 29, Issue 8, September 2005, Pages 595-613:

Broadband network development does not always track closely a nations overall wealth and economic strength. The International Telecommunication Union reported that in 2005 the five top nations for broadband network market penetration were: Korea, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada. The ITU ranked the United States sixteenth in broadband penetration.

Aside from the obvious geographical and demographic advantages accruing to small nations with large urban populations, broadband development thrives when it becomes a national priority. Both developed and developing nations have stimulated capital expenditures for infrastructure in ways United States public and private sector stakeholders have yet to embrace. Such investments have accrued ample dividends including the lowest broadband access costs in the world. For example, the ITU reports that in 2002 Japanese consumers paid $0.09 per 100 kilobits per second of broadband access compared to $3.53 in the United States.

Economic policies do not completely explain why some nations offer faster, better cheaper and more convenient broadband services while other nations do not. This paper will examine best practices in broadband network development with an eye toward determining the optimal mix of legislative, regulatory and investment initiatives. The paper will track development in Canada, Japan and Korea as these nations have achieved success despite significantly different geographical, political and marketplace conditions. The paper also notes the institutional and regulatory policies that have hampered broadband development in the United States.

The paper also will examine why incumbent local exchange and cable television operators recently have begun aggressively to pursue broadband market opportunities. The paper will analyze incumbents's rationales for limited capital investment in broadband with an eye toward determining the credibility of excuses based on regulatory risk and uncertainty. The paper concludes with suggestions how national governments might expedite broadband infrastructure development.

From ScienceDirect via Ewan Sutherland's weblog.

Monday, August 08, 2005 10:11:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, August 05, 2005

The Chairman's report (PDF) from the ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity held June 28 - July 1 2005 has been released.

The event was organized in the framework of the implementation of the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted on 12 December 2003, at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and in preparation for the Tunis phase of WSIS, to be held from 16 to 18 November, 2005. The event website provides links to the final agenda, all background papers, presentations, electronic contributions, the Chairman’s Report and audio archives.

The four-day meeting was structured to consider and debate six broad themes in promoting international dialogue and cooperative measures among governments, the private sector and other stakeholders as well as promotion of a global culture of cybersecurity. These include information sharing of national and regional approaches, good practices and guidelines; developing watch, warning and incident response capabilities; technical standards and industry solutions; harmonizing national legal approaches and international legal coordination; privacy, data and consumer protection; and developing countries and cybersecurity.

The first day of the meeting focused on countering spam as follow-up to the ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam, held in July 2004.

Friday, August 05, 2005 12:38:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

At a recent ITU cybersecurity event, Bruce Schneier, Founder and CTO, Counterpane Internet Security, Inc. gave a keynote speech entitled Negotiating for Security.

A Real Audio archive is available of Mr. Schneier's talk (speech starts 4 minutes from start of archive).

Mr. Schneier states that security is one of the fundamental building blocks of the information society as everything we now do with information requires some kind of security—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, may it be personal, corporate or government related. He said that to a very real extent the limits of the information society can be seen as the limits of security. In other words, if we cannot do it securely, we will not do it with computers and on the internet. Therefore, this means that security is a fundamental enabling technology of the global information society. Moreover, he noted that society as a whole is increasingly moving onto computers and networks and therefore things that had previously nothing to do with computers suddenly do: whether airplanes or the national power grid, these now have an important information security component to their secure functioning. This means that information security therefore has become our general security, which is almost everything. This fact explains our need for an increased focus on security and why the things we are trying to achieve here at this meeting are so important.

Friday, August 05, 2005 11:16:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

At the recent ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity, Maria Cristina Bueti, Policy Analyst, Strategy and Policy Unit, ITU, presented a background paper entitled ITU Survey of Anti-Spam Laws and Authorities Worldwide. The survey was conducted in April 2005 and sent to ITU’s 189 Member States. The survey results, based on 58 responses received, showed that there are a number of countries that have already implemented anti-spam legislation. In some cases, countries use data protection laws or consumer protection laws to cope with spam issues. A number of countries do not have anti-spam legislation or any laws applicable to spam. A slide from her presentation is shown below.

Friday, August 05, 2005 10:58:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 04, 2005

From the Washington Post: To keep criminal hackers at bay, VeriSign, keeper of the master Internet address book, has been throwing mind-boggling amounts of money and computing firepower at security. VeriSign considers 2004 "the turning point" in the conflict because the bad guys exhibited such dramatic leaps in creativity, sophistication and focus.

 

Thursday, August 04, 2005 4:31:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication announced yesterday it will adopt new measures in December to reduce the circulation of spam e-mail. The ministry's plan is designed to prevent the delivery of spam messages with fake sender information. Under the ministry's Sender Policy Framework, participating portal sites will share e-mail server information.

For the full article click here.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 1:35:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the list of presentations (check for update):

Thursday, August 04, 2005 11:22:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dan Kaminsky of DoxPara Research has posted the presentation Black OPs of TCP/IP 2005 (PowerPoint) which he made at Black Hat 2005 which includes his probes of the global Internet DNS infrastructure. The results demonstrate a number of weaknesses in the DNS. In particular, almost 10% of the DNS 2.5 million name servers are potentially subject to cache poisoning which permits hijacking network traffic. Also see the related article on CNET.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 9:02:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Net criminals 'customise' attacks: Criminal gangs have become more astute in phishing attacks. Net criminals and hackers are increasingly targeting their attacks at specific organisations, research shows. Worse hit, according to a worldwide survey by IBM, are government departments, financial services, manufacturing and healthcare. Of the 237 million security attacks in the first half of 2005, 137 million were aimed at these four areas. Spam is becoming less attractive as criminals focus on fraud, identity theft and extortion. This has meant a decrease in the ratio of spam to legitimate e-mail from 83% in January to 67% in June.

From BBC News, IBM press release - Global Business Security Index via Ewan Sutherland's weblog.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 8:07:15 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Alex Shipp, Senior Anti-Virus Technologist at MessageLabs comments:

 "The banking system in South American countries has a higher take-up of internet banking than the banking experience we're used to in the US or Europe. This makes online banks a prime target for the high-tech gangs operating in the region who can get rich quick by selectively targeting local economic interests."

For the full article click here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 5:18:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In a survey to test whether top e-tailers are allowing consumers to opt out of receiving promotional or marketing messages, the FTC has determined that 89 percent of the online merchants it tested are honoring requests to halt future mailings.

The study showed a high rate of compliance with the CAN-SPAM opt-out provisions. All of the e-tailers who sent e-mail to the FTC accounts provided clear notice of recipients’ right to opt out of receiving future mail and provided recipients with an opt-out mechanism. Eighty nine percent of the e-tailers honored all three of the opt-out requests made by FTC staff and 93 percent complied with opt-out requests for at least some accounts.

For the full report (PDF), click here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 10:17:14 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Phishing emails go formal - New method hides the true web address: Researchers have discovered a new method used by criminals to hide the location of phishing websites in email messages. The technique uses a form that sends the users to phishing websites after they have pushed a button. Traditionally phishers employ a link in the body of the email message, security watchdog, the SANS Internet Storm Centre has warned. Forms are commonly used by websites to allow users to send information back to the sites, for instance to enter user names and passwords for log ins. A phishing email tries to lure the recipient to a website that the message claims is from a trusted organisation like a bank or credit card company. The aim of the message is to steal confidential information such as login names and passwords.

From VNUnet, SANS Internet Storm Center - diary via Ewan Sutherland's weblog.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 10:11:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) has announced it is bringing together a number of Australian industry leaders to advise on convergence issues.

The new ACIF Convergence Group will advise on the best way to tackle issues relating to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Next Generation Networks (NGN), content and other associated areas.

ACIF’s chief executive officer, Anne Hurley, who chairs the new group, explained that the convergence of multiple technologies was blurring the boundaries of the various regulatory regimes and creating new challenges which the industry needed to address.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 9:46:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

John Levine, Chair, IRTF Antispam Research Group (ASRG) writes in his weblog that the anti-spam Sender Policy Framework (SPF) email authentication scheme is losing market mindshare.

In a recent talk at an ITU Cybersecurity Event, Mr. Levine gave a presentation entitled The Limits of Security Technology: Lessons from the Spam Wars. In his talk, he asked the audience to reflect carefully as to how technology fits in to the overall solution. He stressed that technology can be morally and politically neutral but we need to decide exactly what it is that we want. For example, an ultimate solution to spam could impact on issues such as anonymous speech, whether we wanted virtual or physical identities, or closed or open systems. These were all tradeoffs that needed to be considered.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 8:42:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China mobile phone subscribers totals 363 million: China had 363.2 million mobile phone subscribers and 337.4 million fixed-line telephone subscribers as of the end of June, accounting for 28% and 26% of its current population, according to statistics published by China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII). For Internet-access services, China had 31.7 million broadband subscribers, of which 21.9 million (69.1%) used xDSL.

From DigiTimes via Ewan Sutherland's weblog.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 6:31:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, August 02, 2005
 Monday, August 01, 2005

Geoff Huston, APNIC, in the ISP Column for August 2005, has authored an article entitled Exploring Autonomous System Numbers. It examines Autonomous System (AS) Numbers and the role they play in Internet routing and discusses the near-term exhaustion of the unallocated pool of AS numbers in an expected 2010 timeframe. The article also discusses a necessary transition of increasing the AS number field size in the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) inter-domain route protocol (from 2 to 4 bytes as defined in this current draft).

Monday, August 01, 2005 2:31:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |