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 Thursday, August 17, 2006

At the invitation of the Government of Cameroon and Cameroon's Telecommunications Regulatory Board (ART), FTRA-2006, on the theme "IP networks and related services: Challenges for African regulators", was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 7 and 8 June 2006. Eighty-three participants from 23 countries and 11 organizations attended the forum.

Participants emphasized the need to review the telecommunications-ICT political, legal, administrative and regulatory issues with a view to their inclusion of aspects relating to the Internet and related services, and the need for human capacity building for regulators in a rapidly changing telecommunications environment. After the successful establishment of sub-regional African Telecommunication Regulatory Associations, the Forum discussed the creation of a PAN African Regulatory Association building on the achievement of the African Telecommunication Regulators Network (ATRN) with the aim of putting in place an efficient mechanism capable of decision-making at the continental level. They finally agreed in principle on the establishment of such an association and its integration in the African Telecommunications Union (ATU). The recommendations agreed on may be found in the final communiqué.

FTRA-2007 will be held in Nairobi, Kenya with the exact dates announced at a later date.

[via the ITU-D Newslog]

Thursday, August 17, 2006 7:42:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Boeing has announced that it is to discontinue its Connexion broadband in the sky service

[via GigaOM]

Thursday, August 17, 2006 7:08:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The International Herald Tribune has an article about the growing problem of "cyberviolence" in South Korea, which has one of the world's most developed Internet communities:

'Complaints filed with the government's Korea Internet Safety Commission more than doubled to 42,643 last year from 18,031 in 2003. Women have reported sexual harassment. A 16-year- old schoolgirl accused of informing on an abusive teacher ran away after her photos and insults were splashed on her school Web site. A singer struggled with rumors that she was a man. Twist Kim, a singer and comedian, had a nervous breakdown after pornographic Web sites proliferated under his name, as if he had created them, causing television stations to spurn him.

In most countries, Internet users oppose government attempts to censor the Internet. In South Korea, however, in both government-funded and private surveys, a majority of people support official intervention to check unbridled freedom of speech on the Internet.

A poll taken in November showed that nearly one of 10 South Koreans from 13 to 65 said they had experienced cyberviolence.

The problem in South Korea may presage what will happen in other countries, according to the authorities, who have begun cracking down on the problem.

"In the past few years, the Internet has grown in South Korea explosively," said Kim Sung Ho, secretary general at Kinternet, a lobby of domestic portals. "The Internet community has developed faster and stronger in South Korea than elsewhere. So we are struggling with its side effects earlier than other nations."

Since last year, dozens of people have been indicted on charges of criminal contempt or slander for writing or spreading malicious online insults about victims like Kim Myong Jae. They face fines of as much as 2 million won, or $2,067.

This month, the National Assembly will debate a bill that would require the nation's 30 major Internet portals and newspaper Web sites to confirm the identities of visitors before allowing them to use bulletin boards, the main channel of cyberviolence.

"The idea is to make people feel more responsible for what they are posting on the Net," said Oh Sang Kyoon, a director at the Ministry of Information and Communications. "Victims cannot live a normal life. They quit jobs and run away from society. They even flee the country. It's like lynching victims in a 'people's court on the Web.'"

Some critics question whether such a law would solve the problem. Cyberviolence, they say, has been increasing even though most of the country's major Web sites are already applying the policy.

"This is violating privacy in the name of protecting it," said Oh Byoung Il, director general at jinbo.net, a civic group. "It discourages anonymous whistle- blowers. It impedes the free flow of communication, the soul of the Internet."

Official interference will also discriminate in favor of foreign portals like Google, said Kim of Kinternet. For instance, when users search for "sex" in a South Korean portal, they must first prove they are adults by supplying personal data - a requirement that does not apply to the Korean-language Google, which operates with an overseas server.

But Kim Myong Jae condemned the portals as willing accomplices in online mob attacks. While painfully slow to respond to victims' complaints, Kim said, the portals - the largest of which, naver.com, attracts 15 million users a day - highlight real-time lists of the most- clicked-on news, thus helping spread sensational, and often libelous, items.

Kim said he had filed suit against the nation's top four portals: Naver, Daum, Yahoo! Korea and Nate.

And portals say they are now screening their contents more vigorously. "Rather than being an arena for sound debate, the Web bulletin boards have to some extent become a place for verbal defecation," said Choi Soo Yeon, a naver.com spokeswoman. "We have 300 monitors who work round the clock to delete abusive and defamatory language." But ultimately, the portals say, the users who post on the Web should be responsible for content.

South Korea saw an explosion of Internet users as the country emerged from decades of military rule, and citizens jumped on the new technology as a way of expressing long-suppressed views. About 33 million South Koreans - out of a population of 48 million - use the Internet, most of them with broadband connections. And many of them are not shy about their feelings.

News articles on portals or newspaper Web sites often are accompanied by feedback sections, where readers comments. Some news articles attract thousands of entries, ranging from thoughtful comments to raving obscenities. When suspicions first emerged last year that the cloning expert Hwang Woo Suk had faked his groundbreaking work, few dared to speak in public against the man lionized as a hero. Scientists, who unveiled evidence of fabrication through anonymous postings, brought about Hwang's downfall.

One of the most famous victims of online mob rule was the so-called "dog-poop girl." A cellphone photograph of a girl who failed to clean up after her dog in a subway car was posted on the Internet. For weeks, people pursued her relentlessly; the girl reportedly dropped out of school as a result.

To Kim Myong Jae, it was familiar. "Two months after I became the target, I visited a plaza near my old company. I dressed differently. Still a person reported my appearance on the Web, how I looked and how that person felt sick to see me," Kim said. "It's a handicap I may have to carry for a long time."'

Thursday, August 17, 2006 7:07:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
An article in Computer World describes how a researcher has announced at the Black Hat USA security conference that he will release a tool to test for "network neutrality".

The researcher, Dan Kaminsky, calls his technique "TCP-based active probing for faults." He plans to post information on TCP-based active probing for faults at www.doxpara.com.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 4:27:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, August 11, 2006

"As cell phones and PDAs become more technologically advanced, attackers are finding new ways to target victims. By using text messaging or email, an attacker could lure you to a malicious site or convince you to install malicious code on your portable device."

The U.S. CERT (Computer Emergence Readiness Team) recently published a list of tips for users on how they can protect themselves against these increasing threats.

What unique risks do cell phones and PDAs present?

Most current cell phones have the ability to send and receive text messages. Some cell phones and PDAs also offer the ability to connect to the internet. Although these are features that you might find useful and convenient, attackers may try to take advantage of them. As a result, an attacker may be able to accomplish the following:

  • Abuse your service;
  • Lure you to a malicious web site;
  • Use your cell phone or PDA in an attack;
  • Gain access to account information.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Follow general guidelines for protecting portable devices;
  • Be careful about posting your cell phone number and email address;
  • Do not follow links sent in email or text messages;
  • Be wary of downloadable software;
  • Evaluate your security settings.

Read the full article on the U.S. CERT website.

Friday, August 11, 2006 11:05:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, August 04, 2006

A forthcoming ITU-T IPTV Global Technical Workshop will review and examine IPTV standardization, political and regulatory aspects, business models and various case studies as well as technical developments and service provider’s operational aspects.

IPTV represents a convergence between the traditional telecommunication and broadcast industries. And, as with any convergence a lot of work is needed to ensure interoperability. Globally accepted standards are clearly a key enabler for this. With many of the conditions necessary for IPTV rollout in place - global IP connectivity over managed broadband infrastructure with such guarantees as QoS and security, and broadband connectivity with enhanced network capabilities - there is a strong demand for standards to ensure smooth service rollout and interoperability.

The workshop will provide a review of the current status of IPTV work as well as an examination of where to go next.

See the meeting website for further information.

[ITU-T Newslog]

Friday, August 04, 2006 11:35:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 03, 2006

The top three antivirus programs -- from Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro -- are less likely to detect new viruses and worms than less popular programs, because virus writers specifically test their work against those programs:

"On Wednesday, the general manager of Australia's Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT), Graham Ingram, described how the threat landscape has changed -- along with the skill of malware authors.

"We are getting code of a quality that is probably worthy of software engineers. Not application developers but software engineers," said Ingram.

However, the actual reason why the top selling antivirus applications don't work is because malware authors are specifically testing their Trojans and viruses to make sure they can bypass these applications before releasing them in the wild.

It's interesting to watch the landscape change, as malware becomes less the province of hackers and more the province of criminals. This is one move in a continuous arms race between attacker and defender."

[via Schneier on Security]

In separate reporting on the Black Hat USA conference, experts say that the spyware problem has "gotten so bad that it is unlikely it can ever be solved on a technical level. Instead, the solution will have to come from regulators and law enforcement agencies" .

"It's not technically feasible to stop spyware. You will not be able to stop this technically "This problem lives at the legal-technical boundary. We can't go around arresting people," said Dan Kaminsky, senior security researcher and founder of Seattle-based Doxpara Research, speaking on a spyware panel at the recent Black Hat USA 2006 event. "We need to create standards that clearly delineate legitimate code from illegitimate code where you throw people in jail."

Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:28:10 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, July 28, 2006

Study Group 17 (Security, languages and telecommunication software) has been instructed by Resolution 48 of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Florianópolis, 2004) to study Internationalized Domain Names (IDN). It is considered that implementation of IDN will contribute to easier and greater use of the Internet in those countries where the native or official languages are not represented in IRA (International Reference Alphabet) characters.

To meet this obligation, Study Group 17 developed new Question 16, Internationalized Domain Names tasked in particular to investigate all relevant issues in the field of IDN. The mandate for Question 16 is available on the Study Group 17 website.

Question 16 was approved at the April 2006 Study Group 17 meeting in Jeju, Korea. At this meeting Question 16 drafted a questionnaire for a Circular to Member States, requesting information on their experiences in the use of IDN. TSB Circular 96 was issued on 31 May 2006.

The ITU-T has unveiled an IDN resource site to share information on work progress, achievements and acquired knowledge in the field of IDN. It includes an introduction to IDN, information about related events, standards materials, news, information on national and other IDN developments and a FAQ.

[via the ITU-T Newslog]

Friday, July 28, 2006 10:49:14 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 27, 2006

Colombian Comission for Telecommunication Regulation has just released new report on "Developments in the Telecommunication Sector".

This report has been prepared as a contribution to the New Initiatives Programme project on the Future of Voice. Further information on the project can be found here. The analysis is available here or on the website with background materials of the project the Future of Voice.

Thursday, July 27, 2006 1:00:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"To protect Internet users from online fraudsters and defend the Internet against scammers commandeering network resources, the two most influential global trade associations combating Internet crime have jointly released an explicit new set of Best Practices to combat “phishing,” a major cause of online identify theft and fraud. The recommendations will help Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mailbox providers better police their own infrastructures and filter traffic traversing their networks."

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) and the Messaging Anti-Abuse Group (MAAWG) jointly developed the recommendations outlined in "Anti-Phishing Best Practices for ISPs and Mailbox Providers." The paper provides technical and business practices to help ISPs and mailbox providers thwart phishing attacks and other malevolent network abuses and also includes practices to respond constructively when these attacks occur. “Phishing” employs deceptive technology such as spoofing and social engineering to steal consumers' personal identity and financial account data, and has become a major concern."

To download the full recommendations, click here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 3:18:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 20, 2006

Implementation of the outcomes of the recently concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gathered momentum with the launch of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS). High level representatives of twenty-two UN agencies met on Friday, 14 July 2006 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva under the chairmanship of ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi to facilitate the process.

UNGIS will serve as an interagency coordinating mechanism within the UN system to implement the outcomes of WSIS. The Group will enable synergies aimed at resolving substantive and policy issues, avoiding redundancies and enhancing effectiveness of the system while raising public awareness about the goals and objectives of the global Information Society. UNGIS will also work to highlight the importance of ICTs in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

See ITU Press Release for full text. 

Thursday, July 20, 2006 4:00:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T’s work on IPTV took a significant step forward following a meeting held at ITU Headquarters in in Geneva, Switzerland, 10-14 July 2006.

IPTV is being explored by media companies and service providers around the world as a way to add value to their existing offerings, and globally accepted standards are seen as essential in order that – for example – a broadcaster in one part of the world can easily distribute content in another. The meeting of the IPTV Focus Group (FG IPTV) attracted over 150 delegates from the world’s key ICT companies, over 100 input documents were considered, and the first drafts of various output documents agreed. All documents can be viewed on the group’s webpage.

A key output document drafted at the meeting shows the requirements for standardization in IPTV. Establishing this list is an essential part of the standards making process. Also dealt with by the group, and equally as important is outlining what standards already exist. The meeting among other things approved the establishment of six working groups.

The next FG IPTV meeting will take place in Busan, Korea, 16-20 October 2006.

Read more about the IPTV Focus Group (FG IPTV) meeting output documents through the ITU-T blog channel for IPTV

IPTV | Media | NGN | Standards | VoIP
Thursday, July 20, 2006 3:45:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has announced the convening of the Internet Governance Forum, to be held in Athens on 30 October - 2 November 2006.

The Secretary-General's message is available in all UN languages: [English] [Français] [中文] [عربي] [Русский] [Español]. The message in English reads:

"The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Tunis on 13-15 November 2005, invited me to convene a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue -- called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The Summit asked me to convene the Forum by the second quarter of 2006 and to implement this mandate in an open and inclusive process.

The Government of Greece made the generous offer to host the first meeting of the IGF and proposed that it take place in Athens on 30 October - 2 November 2006.

I have asked my Special Adviser for Internet Governance, Mr. Nitin Desai, to assist me in the task of convening the IGF and I have also set up a small secretariat in Geneva to support this process. Two rounds of consultations open to all stakeholders held in Geneva on 16-17 February and 19 May have contributed towards a common understanding with regard to the format and content of the first IGF meeting. I have also appointed an Advisory Group with the task of assisting me in preparing the IGF meeting.

The Advisory Group held a meeting in Geneva on 22 and 23 May 2006 and made recommendations for the agenda and the programme, as well as the structure and format of the first meeting of the IGF in Athens.

As the IGF is about the Internet, it is appropriate to make use of electronic means of communication to convene its inaugural meeting. The document adopted by WSIS -- the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society -- calls on me "to extend invitations to all stakeholders and relevant parties to participate at the inaugural meeting of the IGF". Therefore, it is my pleasure to make use of the World Wide Web to invite all stakeholders -- governments, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities, to attend the first meeting of the IGF in Athens. The overall theme of the meeting will be "Internet Governance for Development". The agenda will be structured along the following broad themes.

  • Openness - Freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge
  • Security - Creating trust and confidence through collaboration
  • Diversity - Promoting multilingualism and local content
  • Access - Internet Connectivity: Policy and Cost

Capacity-building will be a cross-cutting priority.

The meeting will be open for all WSIS accredited entities. Other institutions and persons with proven expertise and experience in matters related to Internet governance may also apply to attend.

In its short life, the Internet has become an agent of dramatic, even revolutionary change and maybe one of today's greatest instruments of progress. It is a marvelous tool to promote and defend freedom and to give access to information and knowledge. WSIS saw the beginning of a dialogue between two different cultures: the non-governmental Internet community, with its traditions of informal, bottom-up decision-making; and the more formal, structured world of governments and intergovernmental organizations. It is my hope that the IGF will deepen this dialogue and contribute to a better understanding of how we can make full use of the potential the Internet has to offer for all people in the world.

(Signed) Kofi A. Annan" 

[via the Internet Governance Forum]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 10:46:29 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 13, 2006

The European Commission recently published the draft of the new roaming regulation to bring down the high roaming charges within Europe.

What will the regulation mean for consumers?

  • "Prices paid for international roaming when travelling within the European Union will not be unjustifiably higher than the charges for calls paid within the user’s country.
  • Consumers will benefit from lower prices for making calls in the visited country, back home or to any other EU Member State.
  • Consumers will make considerable savings when receiving calls.
  • Prices operators charge each other (wholesale charges) will be considerably lower than what they are today. This ensures all operators will be in a position to offer lower retail tariffs.
  • Transparency of roaming charges for consumers will be enhanced. Mobile operators will be required to provide customers with full information on applicable roaming charges when subscriptions are taken out and to update consumers regularly about these charges. Consumers can ask for information on roaming charges free of charge either via SMS or voice call.
  • National regulators will also be tasked to monitor closely the development of roaming charges for SMS and multi-media message services (MMS)."
  • Etc.

Read more about the roaming regulation on the EC website.

This article was accessed through Richard's Blog for VoIP and ENUM.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 1:21:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The high cost for developing countries in accessing the Internet backbone was a hot-topic at a recent, Geneva held meeting of ITU-T’s Study Group 3 focusing on tariff and accounting principles including related telecommunication economic and policy issues.

Study Group 3 will submit a paper, outlining its activities and future work plan on international internet connectivity (IIC) to the first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be held in Athens, Greece in October 2006

It has been claimed that some charging arrangements for IIC disadvantage smaller networks and developing countries. In June 2004 an amendment to ITU-T Recommendation D.50 was made to set out general considerations for parties to negotiate Internet interconnection. These considerations can be used to assist two parties to an interconnection agreement to negotiate in a more harmonized way.

"27.  We recommend improvements and innovations in existing financing mechanisms, including:
 Providing affordable access to ICTs, by the following measures:

i.  Reducing international Internet costs charged by backbone providers, supporting, inter alia, the creation and development of regional ICT backbones and Internet Exchange Points to reduce interconnection cost and broaden network access; 

ii. Encouraging ITU to continue the study of the question of the International Internet Connectivity (IIC) as an urgent matter to develop appropriate Recommendations."

See the ITU-T Study Group 3 website for more information.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:55:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In a new scam, called vishing, identity thieves use bogus phone numbers instead of Web sites, reports PC World in a recent article featuring phishing scams on VoIP phones.

< show to starting increasingly is users, telephone or internet trick numbers Protocol) Internet over (voice VoIP easy-to-obtain using thieves with scam, theft identity of kind new A>"Related to phishing scams, the new scheme uses cheaply obtained VoIP numbers as bogus credit card or financial services telephone numbers", the article continues.  "With Internet users being warned about clicking on hyperlinks in unsolicited e-mail, the new scam includes a phone number instead". "It's a natural elevation of the art to move it to the telephone. People are getting nervous about clicking on links", the article states.

< show to starting increasingly is users, telephone or internet trick numbers Protocol) Internet over (voice VoIP easy-to-obtain using thieves with scam, theft identity of kind new A>

The articles gives examples of how these new scams take place: "In one vishing case, scammers targeted PayPal users by including a telephone number in a spam e-mail. In the other case, the criminals configured an automatic telephone dialer to dial phone numbers, and when the phone was answered, played an automated recording saying their credit card has had fraudulent activity. The recording asked the telephone customer to call a number with a spoofed caller ID related to the credit card issuer. Once users call, they are asked for personal account information."

VoIP numbers are easy to obtain anonymously, but an industry expert interviewed for the story did not fault VoIP providers for vishing scams. "A larger problem is the ease of obtaining credit online or over the telephone. Consumers are comfortable with obtaining credit online or by dialing automated telephone services to get credit, but if credit-granting businesses required physical contact, phishing and vishing scams would be almost eliminated. In today's environment, it's absurd," the industry stated.

Read the full article on the PC World news website.

 

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 6:48:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, July 07, 2006

A presentation entitled Networks in Transition: Emerging Policy and Regulatory Challenges of Next Generation Networks (PDF) was made by Robert Shaw, Deputy Head, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, at the Masters of Communication Management (MCM) Annual Conference, Goodenough College on 6 July 2006 in London, England.

Friday, July 07, 2006 12:05:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cullen International has just released new Cross-Country Analysis on IPTV Commercial Offers.

Apart from the overview of the commercial offerings available in selected EU countries the material provides comprehensive comparison of the national regulatory frameworks for the IPTV.

The analysis is available here or on the website with background materials for the New Initiatives Programme project on the Future of Voice. Further information on the project can be found here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006 1:17:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"South Korea has commercially launched its mobile broadband internet service WiBro. South Korean internet service provider KT and mobile phone operator SK Telecom have begun the service based on Intel's WiMax standard in parts of Seoul and surrounding areas. KT claims that WiBro users can get wireless access to the internet even when travelling at speeds of 120km/hour".

"Subscribers can access the service by using a PCMCIA card provided by Samsung Electronics. The telcos plan to cover the entire country with the service by 2008".

For more information, please see the article featured in Digital Media News for Asia (DMasia.com)

This story was accessed through the SmartMobs blog.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 9:27:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

On 20 June 2006 Singapore launched a new ten-year infocomm masterplan that will propel the nation into 2015 and beyond, with a line-up of activities and goals that spell benefits for the people, businesses and the global community. The vision is to turn the country into an Intelligent Nation and Global City, Powered by infocomm. The masterplan recommends the way forward for Singapore, into a future where infocomm will bring a sea change and become intrinsic in the way people live, learn, work and play.

The masterplan sets bold targets for 2015:

  • Singapore to be No. 1 in the world in harnessing infocomm to add value to the economy and society
  • Achieve a two-fold increase in value-added1 of the infocomm industry to S$26 billion
  • See a three-fold increase in infocomm export revenue to S$60 billion
  • Create 80,000 additional jobs2
  • Have at least 90 per cent of homes using broadband
  • Ensure 100 per cent computer ownership for all homes with school-going children

Further information on the masterplan is available here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 8:30:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |