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 Saturday, November 11, 2006

A new tool that gives a unique overview of ITU-T’s Next Generation Network (NGN) related activities has been released. The NGN Project Management Tool, was developed with the support of a voluntary contribution for one of the ITU-T Sector Members.

Since the work towards standards for NGN is taking place across a number of different ITU-T study groups and other standards development organizations (SDOs) the ability to coordinate and view all NGN work in one place will be invaluable to the swift and efficient publication of NGN specifications.

Essentially a repository of information from ITU and other SDOs, the system was asked for by members of the various Study Groups working on NGN. Key will be the ability to keep track of the latest versions of Recommendations and provide detailed information for experts and summaries for management.

Access information on the NGN Project Management Tool here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006 11:19:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 10, 2006

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the EU Contact Network for Spam enforcement Authorities (CNSA), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the London Action Plan for Spam Enforcement (LAP), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Seoul-Melbourne Anti-Spam group, six leading international anti-spam initiatives/organizations, launched at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens, Greece, a new online information resource to assist stakeholders in their fight against spam.

This new website (http://www.stopspamalliance.org/) aims to help coordinate international action against spam more effectively and improve information sharing in this area. It will contain information on anti-spam laws and enforcement activities, consumer and business education, best practices for fighting spam, and international cooperation.

For further information, please visit http://www.stopspamalliance.org/

Read also the OECD news release for the launch of the StopSpamAlliance website.
Friday, November 10, 2006 3:49:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 07, 2006

John MacDonald, a member of the ITU team that created the new VDSL 2 standard, will take part in an upcoming Webinar on this topic, 21 November 2006. The Webinar, the second on the topic that ITU has contributed to, will outline what VDSL2 is, which are its competitive differentiators and benefits, and how it allows service providers to compete with cable and satellite operators - by enabling the delivery of enhanced voice, video and data services over a standard copper telephone cable.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is a product of ITU-T, ITU’s standardization arm, and is the world's most widely deployed broadband access technology. It has enhanced users' experience of the Internet, provided access to digitized content, and fuelled the delivery of streaming video and the development of online gaming by offering downstream data rates of up to 8 Mbit/s. Today, service providers must ensure their DSL offerings can compete against other market options from cable operators. One way to do so, is by offering services over VDSL2 (ITU-T Recommendation G.993.2) - very high-speed DSL - a new version of DSL, which gives service providers the ability to deliver even higher bandwidth and more enhanced services to consumer and business customers.

Delivering up to 100 Mbit/s both up and downstream, a tenfold increase over ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) VDSL2 provides for so-called fiber-extension, bringing fiber-like bandwidth to premises not directly connected to the fiber optic segment of a telecom company’s network. By deploying VDSL2 operators expect to be able to offer services such as high-definition TV (HDTV), video-on-demand, videoconferencing, high-speed Internet access, and advanced voice services. Importantly VDSL 2 offers carriers a solution that is interoperable with the DSL equipment many already have in place. In addition, VDSL 2 will work with both legacy ATM networks and next generation IP-based networks.

Register and read more about the online VDSL2 event here.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006 2:25:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A presentation entitled "Evolution of Digital Media in a Convergent Era" (PDF), was made by Cristina Bueti, Project Officer, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit,at the Festival International du Film et de la Télévision on 4 November in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 12:05:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

As part of the Shaping Tomorrow’s Networks Programme and in line with the stated objectives of the WSIS Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (November 2005), that “… ITU and other regional organisations should take steps to ensure rational, efficient and economic use of, and equitable access to, the radio-frequency spectrum by all countries ….”, ITU (Strategy and Policy Unit and Radiocommunication Sector) and and the Ugo Bordoni Foundation will jointly host a workshop to identify global trends and good practice in radio spectrum management.

The Workshop on "Market Mechanisms for Spectrum Management" will be held from 22 to 23 January 2007 in Room C at ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.

It will examine, inter alia, the use of market mechanisms for both primary allocation of spectrum (e.g., auctions) and for secondary trading. It will look at recent trends in ITU Member States, the increasing demand for spectrum and will examine future challenges in developing policies for access to radio spectrum.

ITU Member States, meeting participants and other interested parties are encouraged to send in their spectrum related contributions to the meeting. All contributions will be posted on the meeting website. Please send your contributions to spectrum@itu.int

More information can be found here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 12:02:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T will host this year's Broadband Europe Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, 11-14 December 2006. BBEurope is an annual event which was initiated by the European Commission Framework Programme 6 BREAD project which is part of the "BroadBand for All"-strategic objective of the European Commission.

Peter Van Daele, BREAD Project Leader: "The concept of 'Broadband For All' refers to a situation in which broadband is not only available to every citizen, but is actually used by all of them. In that respect it is a more demanding concept than the traditional universal service obligation in telephony, which merely stipulates the availability, at certain conditions, of a given service. The usage of information and communication technologies via broadband infrastructures by all citizens is a policy objective because it is considered to be a key component of transforming Europe into a knowledge-based society, thus enhancing economic growth and increasing employment."

The BREAD project has amongst its objectives to develop a holistic vision encompassing technical, as well as economical and regulatory aspects. Another important aspect is of identifying roadblocks on European, national/regional level and share visions and best practices on national level to EU level.

BBEurope brings together on an international level all the BroadBand players, researchers, service providers, content providers, operators, manufacturers, policy makers, standardisation bodies, professional organisations. The meeting will discuss topics such as NGN, IPTV, wireless access, powerline, security, QoS, and broadband in rural areas. The event will conclude with a panel discussion titled: Future Perspectives in Broadband.

For a draft meeting agenda and more information on the call for papers (deadline: 10 November 2006), see the event website.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 10:27:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 03, 2006

Over seven hundred people voted for the most influential standards work from ITU-T in a recent poll to celebrate 50 years of CCITT/ITU-T. The work area for video coding received the most votes. The task of video coding is to establish efficient formats for storing and transmitting video data. The work of ITU–T in this field was pioneered in joint projects with the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC). 

In addition to the two video standards that were explicitly mentioned in the poll question (H.262/MPEG2-Video and H.264/AVC), there were several others of substantial importance in the standardization of that field. Specifically, that includes H.120, H.261, and H.263. Signalling System Number 7 (SS7) received the second highest number of votes. SS7 is a common channel signalling system that separates network resource control from the resources being controlled. This fundamental shift enabled the implementation of highly efficient centralized databases for call control, especially valuable for services that may be accessed from any subscriber line (Intelligent Networks, 800/Freephone, credit card, VPN, etc.), and an integral capability on which today’s ubiquitous mobile phone systems depend. Among other service supporting capabilities, it enables monitoring the status of a line to see if it is busy or idle, alerts that indicate the arrival of a call, and the addressing system that routes calls.

The full voting results can be seen here.
See more related information in the ITU-T Newslog.

Friday, November 03, 2006 2:11:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Computer World reports of a new kind of spam called "targeted spam or spear phising". This type of spam, currently on the rise, is particularly hard to catch for spam filters because the spammer is able to "spoof" the sending e-mail address to make it look like it's coming from within the organization of the recipient. Unlike traditional spam, spammers send just a few of these messages at the same time, making antispam technology’s job even harder.

These attacks affect essentially large organizations or very well-known brands. Once the company has been alerted, blocking it is pretty easy. But detecting such well-crafted messages is becoming harder as the sophistication level of spam increases.

For more information, read the full Computer World article.

Friday, November 03, 2006 2:04:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 01, 2006

According to a recent Forbes article a new kind of spam is rapidly invading users’ e-mail boxes: image spam.

To the human eye, image spam looks like regular junk email, but for anti-spam software, the image spam is very hard to detect. Usually anti-spam programs scan messages for certain key phrases but do not analyze pictures, so the same word saved as an image file goes undetected. Anti-spam technology is trying to adapt to this new phenomenon. However, for now, image spam is on the growth and is consuming much more bandwidth and storage space in consumers’ e-mail boxes.

To read the full Forbes article, please click here.

For more information, see Secure Computing’s Report on Image Spam.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 10:35:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"In a sweeping set of measures, the German Federal Network Agency has ordered more than 80 network operators and service providers not to bill or collect for any phone numbers used illegally. A large number of consumers had complained to the German Federal Network Agency about so-called ping calls and other forms of telephone spamming."

"A ping call is where a call is made to a telephone number and broken off after just one ring. The subscriber’s display shows a “missed call” with an expensive premium-rate number or an 0137 number. In addition to these ping calls, another form of telephone spamming promises prizes where the person called hears a prerecorded message saying that they have won a large amount of money that can be collected by calling an expensive premium-rate number."

"The Federal Network Agency’s stringent measures are a continuation of the intense battle against telephone spam. Since May 2006 alone, the Federal Network Agency has disconnected 237 call numbers on account of ping calls and prize promises. In addition, a ban has been imposed on billing and collecting for 78 call numbers. These bans protect consumers that have called a spam number back, and prevents them from having to pay any charges. The spammer does not receive any payment for the calls initiated."

See the Federal Network Agency's press release here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 7:50:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 31, 2006

ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit has just released a new issue of SPU Flash.

The electronic version of the SPU Flash, Issue 10 is available here.

Click here to subscribe to SPU News.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 5:28:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In his remarks at the First Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Athens, Greece, 30 October 2006, ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi, encouraged meeting participants to "welcome open debate in the great spirit of Athenian democracy".

See the transcript of Secretary-General Utsumi's speech here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 2:45:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 27, 2006

"Authentication processes can contribute to the protection of privacy by reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures, but only if they are appropriately designed given the sensitivity of the information and the risks associated with the information. Overly rigorous authentication process, or requiring individuals to authenticate themselves unnecessarily, can be privacy intrusive."

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's recently released new Guidelines for Identification and Authentication. The Guidelines are intended to help organizations develop appropriate identification and authentication processes in ways that respect the fair information practices in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and ensure compliance with its security provisions by providing the strongest protection for customers’ personal information. The scope of the document is limited to identification and authentication techniques between organizations and individuals.

These guidelines were released by the Canadian Privacy Comissioner, is a good document discussing both privacy risks and security threats:

See also a more detailed document published by Industry Canada in 2004 named "Principles for Electronic Authentication".

This article was accessed through Schneier's blog: Schneier on Security.

Friday, October 27, 2006 4:02:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

United Kingdom's telecommunications regulator Ofcom criticized a proposed European Union law regulating the internet, warning that "it could devastate the continent's internet-TV, mobile-multimedia and online-games industries". Under the EU proposal, many internet broadcasts would face the same requirements on advertising content and production quotas as traditional television.

The U.K. regulator hired Rand Corp. to conduct an impact-assessment study, which outlined the possible negative effects. There are major uncertainties about the future "trajectory" of Internet TV, the regulator said in a note accompanying the study. "Creators will simply distribute their own material via the open Internet, bypassing the need for any form of commercial relationship with other distributors," the regulator said, adding that internet broadcasters would move offshore to escape the regulation. The U.K. position is crucial.

When the EU proposal was first floated last year, London opposed all extension of broadcasting rules to new media. Ofcom spokesman Simon Bates said the U.K. has realized that some new services will fall under the regulation. The key is to gain exemptions for particularly vulnerable services. "We understand that some TV-like services that look like TV and feel like TV warrant some protection," he said, adding that fledgling services should remain exempt. "Our worst fear would be if blogs are required to be regulated like mass-media television services, with rules for example about offensive content." If infant industries are regulated, Ofcom says they risk being pushed offshore. Even though mobile-phone operators could restrict their services available on the open Internet, the EU regulation would give them "incentives to artificially structure businesses so that the regulatable activity of making and creating content takes place outside the EU." The regulation could devastate Europe's online-games industry, the report added. "Rand Europe finds that this industry is global, and that the added value activity of creating and developing games is highly 'portable,'" the regulator writes. "This industry is therefore highly susceptible to increases in regulation in one territory, however small, especially when that regulation does not have parallels in other territories." The regulator recommends "excluding online games altogether from the scope" of the EU regulation.

The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the proposal by year end. EU governments meeting in the Brussels-based Council of Ministers also must approve it. Intellect, a U.K. trade association, recently said the regulation threatens to stifle services such as on-demand and interactive-video content.

Please see William Echikson's article in Wall Street Journal Europe for more details.

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

With the second meeting of the Focus Group on IPTV seeing a record number of participants and contributions, experts have declared satisfaction that work towards a set of standards for IPTV is well on track.

A recent report from industry analyst Gartner says that the number of households around the world subscribing to IPTV services offered by telecom carriers will reach 48.8 million in 2010. Buoyed by new service launches, IPTV subscribers will more than double in 2007 from an expected 6.4 million in 2006 to 13.3 million according to Gartner. Experts agree that it is imperative that standards needs are met if these impressive figures are to be achieved.

A key achievement at the FG IPTV meeting in Korea was progress towards a standardized IPTV architecture: The group agreed that IPTV architecture shall allow for both NGN and non-NGN approaches to IPTV, and within the NGN-approach, include both IMS and non-IMS based approaches.

Ghassem Koleyni, chair of the group stated that: "I am particularly happy that we have achieved so much progress in ITU-T Working Group 1 (service requirements and architecture). The level of participation in this group is growing and progress is overall good. But requirements and architecture are of such fundamental importance that getting a fix on these points, at this stage, is very satisfying. In order to gain momentum here we will convene an electronic meeting looking specifically at requirements and architecture, 18-21 December."

The Korea meeting agreed on the following definition of IPTV: "IPTV is defined as multimedia services such as television/video/ audio/text/graphics/data delivered over IP based networks managed to provide the required level of QoS/QoE, security, interactivity and reliability."

The FG IPTV meeting was preceded by an ITU-T workshop. The event attended by over 400 and held in Seoul provided a view and examination of IPTV standardization, political and regulatory aspects, business models and various case studies as well as technical developments and service provider’s operational aspects. A roundtable discussion at the event concluded that global standardisation and interoperability are key for further development of IPTV worldwide. Other issues that might be further discussed at an international level, according to the roundtable’s twenty participants, include digital rights management (DRM).

The next face-to-face meeting of the FG IPTV is scheduled for 22-26 January 2007 at the Microsoft facilities, Mountain View, California, USA at the invitation of Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS).

For more information see the ITU-T IPTV Focus Group website.

Friday, October 27, 2006 10:26:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On 16 October 2006, Mauritius officially launched their Anti-Spam Awareness Campaign. On this occasion the Minister of IT and Telecommunications also presented a dedicated Anti-Spam Website with resource aimed at raising awareness and sharing information on spam, malwares, etc.

In Mauritius, the spamming problem is gaining in magnitude and there is a need to have a concerted approach to address this issue. Without remedial action to address the problem of spam in Mauritius, the country runs the risk of being seen as a safe haven for spammers and there is the risk that legitimate email traffic from Mauritius to other countries which have anti-spam legislation, could be blocked. In this context, the National Computer Board has set up a National Anti Spam Committee to co-ordinate activities at the national level with regards to combating spam.

The Anti-Spam Co-ordination Committee consists of representatives from the following national organisations: National Computer Board; IT Security Unit, Ministry of IT and Telecommunications; Ministry of Education and Human Resources; Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Cooperation Joint Economic Council; Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI); State Law Office; ICT Authority; Mauritius IT Industry Association; Internet Society; University of Mauritius (UOM); University of Technology; Telecom Plus/Mauritius Telecom ACT.

For further information see the newly launched Anti-Spam Website and Mauritius' Anti-Spam Action Plan.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 1:12:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 23, 2006

The Journal du Net states in a recent article that organized cybercrimes represent a growing risk for internet users. Hackers use new techniques to hide and make their attacks more efficient. Their main goal is not to destroy computers. With the rapid development of e-commerce, hackers want to take over personal data and make as much profit as they can with it.

To achieve this, they use different forms of worms or trojans send from servers hosted in countries where the legislation is less strict. To protect their economic interests, businesses need to include employees in their security policies so they do not become the weak link in the security chain.

See Journal du Net for the full article in French.

Monday, October 23, 2006 2:29:08 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, October 22, 2006

The 13th European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations' (CEPT) Conference, took place in Berlin 11-12 October 2006. The title of the conference was "Regulations under Challenge".

The conference looked at the electronic communications policy and regulatory matters with the aim of facilitating a fruitful dialogue between regulators working at different levels of international and national institutions, industry and users on topics including: forward-looking regulatory and policy developments in a rapidly changing environment; technological, market and other developments with potential impact on regulations; and the impact of regulations on technology developments and telecom markets.

The first day, "Policy challenges", featured visionary keynote speeches by top level speakers, followed by plenary sessions presenting views from industry, the European Commission, regulators and others. Speakers included: Yoshio Utsumi (ITU), Guido Landheer (CEPT), Fabio Colasanti (EC), Michael Bartholomew (ETNO), Kevin Power (ECTA), Tom Lindström (EICTA), Sergio Antocicco (INTUG), Peter Scott (EC), Kip Meek (ERG and OFCOM), Mathias Kurth (RSPG), Rainer Münch (ETSI TISPAN), Kenneth Neil Cukier (The Economist) and Chris Marsden (RAND).

The second day, "Regulatory practices under challenge", addressed more specific topics in two parallel tracks. An overview of the state of the art in VoIP from a regulator's and incumbent's viewpoint was given in sessions on Digital Dividend, Spectrum Management Reform, New Technologies and Suitable Regulation, Building Blocks of NGN, NGN Challenges, and the Future of Telecommunications.

The meeting programme and the presentations can be found here.

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

Sunday, October 22, 2006 7:21:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, October 21, 2006

There is growing interest in the economics of information infrastructure security.

Some of the seminal work in the field has been done by Ross Anderson of Cambridge University, particularly in his original paper Why Information Security is Hard - An Economic Perspective as well as in some of Bruce Schneier's work. Ross Anderson maintains an excellent resource page on the topic with pointers to relevant material.

In June of this year, the Fifth Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS 2006) was held in Cambridge, England and next week the The Workshop on the Economics of Security the Information Infrastructure will take place on 23 October 2006 in the Washington, D.C. area.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 9:51:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Athens, Greece from 30 October - 2 November 2006.

The current programme is available here.

A couple of related websites have been unveiled:

CircleID has a related article asking What Will Be the Outcome of the Internet Governance Forum Meeting in Athens?

Saturday, October 21, 2006 8:28:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 20, 2006

Business Week Online shows in a recent article entitled "Needed: A National Cyber Security Law'" that more and more people have their personal information lost, stolen or compromised. Security breaches are eroding their trust in the capability of the Internet to deal with their private personal information. This growing confidence-deficit represents a serious threat to the economic growth of each country, according to the article. Therefore, it is time for officials to act by passing strong data-security laws. These national laws must aim to both prevent further data breaches and address leaks once they occur.

"To accomplish these goals, lawmakers should establish reasonable security measures, create a consistent and recognizable notification standard, encourage best practices such as encryption, and include effective enforcement capabilities".

See Business Week Online for the full article.

Friday, October 20, 2006 12:36:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Computer World released an article entitled “Ten security trends worth watching”, based on Bruce Schneier’s speech at last month’s Hack in the Box Security Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Mr. Schneier identified 10 trends affecting information security today:

  1. Information is more valuable than ever.
  2. Networks are critical infrastructure. "If the Net goes down, or part of the Net goes down, it really affects the economy".
  3. Users do not necessarily control information about themselves. For example, Internet service providers have control over records the Web sites that users visit and email messages they send and receive.
  4. Hacking is increasingly a criminal profession. More and more, attacks are organized and led by criminals who are driven by a profit motive.
  5. Complexity is your enemy. "As systems get more complex they get less secure". Mr. Schneier mentioned that the Internet is "the most complex machine ever built".
  6. Attacks are faster than patches. New vulnerabilities and exploits are being discovered faster than vendors can patch them.
  7. Worms are more sophisticated than ever. 
  8. The endpoint is the weakest link. "It doesn't matter how good your authentication schemes are if the remote computer isn't trustworthy".
  9. End users are seen as threats.
  10. Regulations will drive security audits.

See Computer World for the full article.

Friday, October 20, 2006 7:41:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 19, 2006

"The existing identity infrastructure of the Internet is no longer sustainable. The level of fraudulent activity online has grown exponentially over the years and is now threatening to cripple e-commerce. Something must be done now before consumer confidence and trust in online activities are so diminished as to lead to its demise." A recently released paper by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, Ann Cavoukian, tries to address this: 7 Laws of Identity: The Case for Privacy-Embedded Laws of Identity in the Digital Age. 

See more information on the 7 Laws in the related news release and brochure.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 7:39:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The European Commission held its final conference on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) on 16 October 2006 in Brussels, to close the series of consultations initiatives announced by Commissioner Viviane Reding at CeBit in March 2006. The conference (RFID: Heading for the Future) was opened by the Commissioner and featured Commission officials, members of the European Parliament, and relevant stakeholders from industry, government and civil society who have been involved in the ongoing European debate about RFID. ITU's Lara Srivastava spoke at the conference on the topic "RFID: from identification to identity" and her presentation is available here.

More information about the EU's RFID consultation is available here.

 

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 4:06:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) is a composite index that has been developed by the ITU/Digital Opportunity Platform to measure countries' progress in ICTs and digital opportunity, as part of the endorsed methodology for WSIS evaluation and follow-up. It is a flexible methodology that has been used in many different ways. Every day this week, SPU will demonstrate a different application of the DOI, to show its flexible and versatile applications for policy analysis.

The urban/rural digital divide is one of the most obvious divisions in many countries (depending on their geography, degree of urbanisation and industrial development, among other factors). ITU has traditionally sought to monitor the urban/rural divide in telecoms using the indicators of % of main lines in urban areas and mainlines in the largest city. For example, in China, as recently as 2004, just over two-thirds of all mainlines were to be found in urban areas (World Telecommunication Indicators).

However, the urban/rural divide extends far beyond connectivity. Differences in digital opportunity between urban and rural areas are also evident in the price of access to ICTs (often more expensive in rural areas), speed and quality of access (what the Nigerian blogger Oro calls "plug and pray") and technology in e.g., coverage of population with a mobile signal. The Digital Opportunity Index measures all these different aspects to access to ICTs.

For most countries, detailed data on urban/rural differences for all these aspects are difficult to come by. However, at the recent Digital Opportunity Forum held in Korea, the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology presented its expert analysis of the urban/rural divide in Egypt (see figure below). Taking into account differences in price, coverage, Internet availability and usage, the Ministry calculated that the rural population in Egypt has one quarter less opportunity to access and use ICTs as in urban areas. This points to a measurable and significant urban/rural divide in connectivity in a country where the vast majority of the population (95%) live in the fertile Nile valley. The DOI provides a means not only of quantifying the extent of this urban/rural divide, but also of monitoring its future evolution.

The urban/rural divide in Egypt


Source: Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, presented to the Digital Opportunity Forum, 1 September 2006.

For more information about the Digital Opportunity Index, click here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 3:07:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The 2006 ITU ‘Young Minds’ are now in their final week of the SPU-administered programme. Now entering its third year, the programme is designed to give young people valuable exposure to the international telecommunication environment and the work of ITU. Lucy Yu from the United Kingdom and Chin Yung Lu from Hong Kong SAR were selected as the 2006 Young Minds. As part of their work at the SPU, the Young Minds have been researching telecommunications technologies and preparing text for the ITU Internet Report 2006: digital.life. Statistics were collected and prepared by Kenichi Yamada.

The ITU Internet Report is a series of publications prepared on a yearly basis especially for ITU TELECOM events. The 2006 edition is the eighth in the series and will be published to coincide with ITU TELECOM World 2006, to be held in Hong Kong from 4th - 8th December. The report begins by examining the underlying technological enablers of new digital lifestyles, from upgrading network infrastructure to value creation at its edges. In studying how businesses are adapting to fast-paced digital innovation, the report looks at how they can derive value in an environment driven by convergence at multiple levels. The question of extending access to underserved areas of the world is considered as an important priority. In light of media convergence, a fresh approach to policy-making may be required, notably in areas such as content, competition policy, and spectrum management. Concerns over privacy and data protection are not being sufficiently addressed by current methods for managing identities online. As such, the report examines the changing digital individual, and outlines the need for improving the design of identity management mechanisms for a healthy and secure digital world.

As a conclusion to their research, the Young Minds each gave a presentation on selected topics that are each expanded upon in digital.life. Their presentations, entitled ‘A User-Generated Digital World’ and ‘Internet Protocol Television (IPTV): Television is changing…..’ can be seen here. In her presentation, Lucy Yu introduced the phenomenon of user generated content and talked about the effect that this is having on communities and social networking as well as the web’s wider knowledge base. She went on to talk about business models and the potential for growth and the threats that legislation and social acceptance may pose to user-generated content. Finally, she questioned future possible trends and explored how the market might evolve. In his presentation, Chin Yung introduced IPTV and illustrated how it works, and talked of the growing trend of media convergence between television services and the internet. He also listed the main differences between IPTV and Internet Video Streaming, which are often thought to be the same technologies. To conclude, Chin Yung displayed some IPTV deployments in Europe and Asia and suggested that IPTV can be an exciting opportunity for telcos.

Both ‘Young Minds’ have greatly enjoyed their time on the programme and would encourage any young people with a passion for telecoms to take part in the 2007 call. For further details on the Young Minds programme see the Young Minds webpage.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 1:41:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Slashdot has an article that says "Researchers are finding it practically futile to keep up with evolving botnet attacks. 'We've known about [the threat from] botnets for a few years, but we're only now figuring out how they really work, and I'm afraid we might be two to three years behind in terms of response mechanisms,' said Marcus Sachs, a deputy director in the Computer Science Laboratory of SRI International, in Arlington, Va. There is a general feeling of hopelessness as botnet hunters discover that, after years of mitigating command and controls, the effort has largely gone to waste. 'We've managed to hold back the tide, but, for the most part, it's been useless,' said Gadi Evron, a security evangelist at Beyond Security, in Netanya, Israel, and a leader in the botnet-hunting community. 'When we disable a command-and-control server, the botnet is immediately re-created on another host. We're not hurting them anymore.' There is an interesting image gallery of a botnet in action as discovered by security researcher Sunbelt Software."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:50:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Om Malik points to an article in French that discuss how Free.fr, the world's leading multiple play provider based in France is now quickly moving into wireless mesh networks with its new Freebox HD set-top box/wiifi offering. To understand the quantitative advantages of wireless mesh networks, see this presentation from Dave Beyer from 2002 that explains how mesh coverage has the interesting property of increasing coverage and capacity as the more subscribers are added (since the subscribers are part of the routing infrastructure).

Free recently announced the delivery of their 300,000 Freebox HD, which they say creates a wi-fi mesh network that allowing their new wi-fi based phones to roam.

Olivier Gutknecht reported on some of this in English back in April 2006.

Free is also going to do a rollout of FTTH to every home in Paris which they say they will unbundle to competitors.

They also now have a national WiMax license acquired through the acquisition by their parent company, Iliad, of Altitude Telecom.

This recent presentation on Iliad's mid-2006 results provides a good overview of their strategic direction and their financials. What is next?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:20:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Economist has an article entitled Your television is ringing that discusses service providers build-outs of Next Generation Network (NGN) converged platforms.

In fact, although the industry likes to depict convergence as a great boon for customers, it actually involves a technological shift that, in the first instance at least, will primarily benefit network operators. At its heart, convergence is the result of the telecoms industry's embrace of internet technology, which provides a cheaper, more efficient way to move data around on networks. On the internet everything travels in the form of “packets” of data, encoded using internet protocol, or IP. The same system can also be used to encode phone conversations, text and photo messages, video calls and television channels—and indeed anything else.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:09:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |