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 Monday, 29 January 2007

The European Parliament held an STOA Workshop on "RFID in the everyday life of Europeans: A citizen's perspective on ambient intelligence" on 24 January 2007. The workshop was organized as part of the project "RFID and identity management: Case Studies from the frontline of the development towards ambient intelligence" commissioned by the Scientific Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament, and carried out by the European Technology Assessment Group.

ITU's Lara Srivastava delivered a presentation on the topic "Is our enviroment getting smarter? Are we". Her presentation is available here

Monday, 29 January 2007 21:57:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Under the umbrella of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce poverty and the plan of action of the World Summit on the Information Society, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Trade Centre (ITC - UNCTAD/WTO) combined their respective strengths in order to raise awareness on the potential of using mobile phones for business applications in developing countries.

ITC and ITU, based on a request from Burkina Faso, conducted a m-business potential assessment in this country. The study revealed the need of small and medium enterprises in exportation to obtain real-time market information.

For more information on the so-called "Trade at hand" initiative, click here.

Monday, 29 January 2007 13:51:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The Clean Slate Design for the Internet is an interdisciplinary research program at Stanford University. The founders of this program believe that the current Internet has significant deficiencies which must be resolved before the Internet can become a unified global communication infrastructure. They feel that to solve these deficiencies, focus must be placed on bold, unconventional, and long-term research that tries to break down the network's ossification. 

They characterize the program with two questions: (1)  Given current knowledge, if we were to start over with a clean slate, how would we design a global communications infrastructure? and (2) How should the Internet look in 15 years? The program will be driven from the ground up, by research projects with the intention of creating a "loosely-coupled breeding ground for new ideas."  The program's goal is to be flexible and to create the structure and identify and focus funds to support the best research in clean slate design.  The program will also collaborate with and receive funds from approximately seven industrial partners with interests in networking services, equipment, semiconductors, and applications.

See more background information on the program here.
See the white paper describing the program structure and key areas of research here.
For a presentation describing the program, click here.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:44:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A short video providing an introduction to the work of ITU-T's Study Group 9 and the events surrounding the meeting was made by Mayumi Matsumoto, Rapporteur for Q.5/9, at the last meeting of the group, held 2 - 6 October, 2006 in Tokyo.  The video contains a demonstration of technologies for emerging broadband services in the home and interviews with some of the exhibitors.

The link to the video can be found here.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:16:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The North American Consumer Project on Electronic Commerce (NACPEC) has created a section on its website that provides visitors with relevant and up to date information on spam and phishing.

Although there is no international consensus on the definition of spam, spam has evolved from a minor nuisance to a problem, which is often criminal and fraudulent, for users and computer networks. In addition to the fact that most spam advertises goods or services that are of questionable quality or that contain deceptive or misleading offers, spam is a channel for the propagation of viruses and spyware as well as a way to perpetrate other criminal activities through phishing and pharming techniques.  It is a threat to the use and functioning of corporate, public, and academic networks; assists cybercrime; threatens consumer confidence; and undermines the use of email. 

Since 2000, the amount of spam circulated has more than doubled, reaching somewhere between 58% to 85% of all email.  Spam is the cause for significant economic costs and losses in productivity for service providers, businesses, civil society, academic institutions, and especially consumers.  During the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) thematic meeting on spam in July 2004, the Chairman reported that spam costs the global economy approximately US$ 10 billion per year, and the European Commission has estimated that spam costs users EUR 10 billion per year. Spam is now no longer only a problem for computer networks, it is also becoming an issue in mobile phones, instant messaging services, weblogs, and wireless networks. Currently, there is no one solution to the problem of spam.  It is a complex, cross-border issue requires the adoption of a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder approach as recommended by the Anti-Spam Toolkit for the OECD.  To curb spam, a combination of solutions will be required.

More information can be found here.


Wednesday, 24 January 2007 10:10:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 23 January 2007

As one the series of Google TechTalks, Van Jacobson presents his talk entitled "A New Way to Look at Networking."

Jacobson's motivation for giving this talk is his feeling that in the last decade network research in the United States has been at a dead end. Despite technological advances, everything with networking is becoming more difficult. People are spread out over multiple devices, wireless barely works, and the solutions that are being presented solve the small problems but do not deal with the larger cause.  In the current situation, Jacobson feels the Internet is not a bad solution but the problem has changed. We are on the verge of a Copernican revolution. A good analogy to this situation is the one faced in the 1960s and 1970s when efforts were being made to use the telephony system to move data.

The traditional telephony system was not about calls, it was about wires. To have a successful business model, a ubiquitous wire system was necessary. Jacobson provides an explanation of the system, how it works, and the issues that arose over ownership of the network. One characteristic of the network was its unreliability. Every piece had to work all the time. Because of this the network was designed to have reliable elements instead of being reliable as a whole. 

The current issue is in order to have access to information, the device used must be connected to the Internet or the user will be cut off. This can be difficult because the device must have a topologically stable address. Also, the Internet does not like things that move or broadcast; it was not designed for this.  How the network is being used has changed. We are not longer in a conversation model. A conversation model cannot be transformed into a viable security model. Instead, Jacobson promotes a dissemination model by discussing the work that is being done with this framework including ways of transferring and storing information and their advantages.

Jacobson feels that the continued reliance on the conversation model has evolved the situation to the point where the user must now do the low level connection plumbing to get what he/she wants.  If we change our view to the dissemination model, the network does the plumbing. 

The full talk can be found here.


Tuesday, 23 January 2007 16:23:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In his article "Trench Warfare in the Age of the Laser-guided Missile," Neil Schwartzman gives a brief description of the history of spam and the anti-spam movement, provides a summary of the current state of spam, and makes a series of recommendations concerning what actions the anti-spam community should take.

History of Spam and the Anti-Spam Movement:  According to Schwartzman, both spam and the anti-spam movement have steadily evolved since 1995.  The anti-spam movement has seen the rise of government groups, NGOs, and industry coalitions as well as anti-virus and spyware technologists and companies working individually to stop spam.  Spam, however, has stayed ahead of the anti-spam movement, becoming more and more sophisticated in its ability avoid filters, collaborate with viruses, and reach users. 

The Current State of Spam:  Schwartzman sums up the current situation as a "blended criminal threat."  He examines penny stocks, promoted using 'image-only' payloads.  Stock spamming leaves paper trails and this led to some successful prosecutions at the end of 2006.  He reaches the conclusion that although currently popular, stock spamming will decline as prosecutions increase.   He also looks at phishing, which he feels is far more serious than stock spamming, because  "personal information is the currency used by criminals on the net."

Consumer Confidence & Organized Crime:  Although online commerce continues to grow, user confidence is e-commerce is decreasing as the number of threats from spam increase.  Recent studies show that up to 90% of polled consumers are deeply skeptical about their ability to conduct business safely online.  Schwartzman feels that as more users become victims or personally know victims of online fraud, they will cease their online purchasing and return to traditional retail outlet purchasing.  One major concern is the possible failure of a major online financial service, which would certainly speed up users return to traditional retail and cause massive damage to the reputations of all online service providers.  There is also additional concern as there is now "full integration with the bad-guy technologists and sophisticated groups of computer-aware criminals."  The large amount of money that can be made from spam has now attracted organized crime including the Russian mob, the Italian mafia, the Hell's Angels, and the Columbian drug cartels.

The Future:  At the inbox level, anti-spam technologies are very effective at blocking spam; however, the resource cost is becoming an issue as "major receiving sites have said privately that their systems are all but overwhelmed by the new levels of spam."  The latest spam/malware threat is known as SpamThru.  Although not yet being used to its full capacity, it caused an 80% increase of spam on some sites in the last three months of 2006.  It also has the capability of avoiding complete deletion by removal programs.  Other technologies which are also popular right now are 'Queen bots', which are capable of changing profiles and controlling subservient zombie computers, and 'fast-flux dns', which is a DNS server hosted on an infected machine that resolves human-recognizable URLs to a multitude of similarly infected machines.  If spam continues to increase, and there are several ways it can, the result could be the end of e-mail or the Internet itself or virtual attacks on the real world (several of which have already been realized),  

What Should Be Done:  According to Schwartzman, the anti-spam movement is losing.  This can be mostly attributed to the fact that the movement is disjointed and disorganized.  Companies often have various groups dealing with different aspects of spam and malware who never communicate or coordinate.  This is also seen in the interaction of the various anti-spam groups organized within the industry.  Schwartzman believes that active participation and cooperation by all stakeholders is necessary to successfully fight spam and he makes a series of suggestion as to how this can be achieved.

See the complete article here

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 12:00:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 22 January 2007

Within the framework of the ITU New Initiatives Programme event on The Future of Voice held from 15-16 January 2007 in ITU Headquarter, Geneva, Mr Wolfgang Reichl, ÖFEG, Austria, submitted an interesting discussion material on "Balancing Innovation and Preservation in Telephony"

In paper's abstract Mr Reichl writes: Telephony might become just another application on the Internet. To examine if this is a likely or even desireable future, is the topic of this article. Everyone used to know what telephony is but with the appearance of software applications like Skype it isn't that easy anymore. Telephony in the traditional sense is interactive voice conversation between two people connected to a global network. When we talk about connectivity to a global network today, we envisage the Internet and when we talk about telephony, it is mobile telephony. The technological platform for telecommunications seems to evolve towards a common data network for all applications. The service specific silo-like networks convert towards a layered network architecture. When the underlying technology changes it remains critical to entangle the telephony application from technology. This article tries to find a clear seperation between application and technology and explores innovations of the telephony application in the light of convergence of computers, media and telecommunications. Innovations should be balanced against society's needs to preserve a world wide network for voice communications.

To download the paper, please click here.

Monday, 22 January 2007 15:37:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A public forum on the availability and robustness of electronic communications networks was held in Brussels, Belgium on 18 January, 2007.  It was done as part of a study being conducted for the European Commission by Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs and professional services organizations on this issue.  The study provides insights into the availability and security provisions of electronic communication networks and also makes recommendations to the Commission, Member States, and private sector designed to enhance the security and resilience of these networks.  The findings of the study will be presented at the multi-stakeholder dialogue in Europe, which will be attended by representatives of governments, industry, and users.  Opening the dialogue will be speakers from the financial sector, the electricity sector, and the transport sector who will stress the importance of reliable communications in their operations. 

This study follows a request form the European Council in June 2004 to prepare a critical infrastructure for Europe, the adoption of a Green Paper on critical infrastructure protecion in November 2005 (more information), and a proposal by the Commission for a European Programme on Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) in December 2006.  In May 2006, the Commission adopted a Communication on a strategy for a secure Information Society - "Dialogue, partership and empowerment" (COM(2006)251).  This action was endorsed the Council Resolution adopted on 11 December 2006.

See more information here.

Monday, 22 January 2007 15:34:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In their paper "Spam Works: Evidence from Stock Touts and Corresponding Market Activity," Laura Frieder and Jonahan Zittrain examine the impact of spam that advertises stock upon the trading activity of those stocks, how profitable such spamming might be for the spammer, and how harmful this behavior is to those who follow the advice in stock-touting e-mails. Using a large sample of touted stocks listed on the Pink Sheets quotation system, the authors offer evidence showing that the use of spam is affecting stock prices. In addition to an increase in transaction volume, spammers are acheiving 5% gain on the stock before they dump it.  They also suggest that the effectiveness of this practice "calls into question the prevaling models of securities regulation that rely principally on the proper labeling of information and disclosure of conflicts of interest to protect consumers." In response to this, they propose several regulatory and industry interventions.

The paper can be found here.

Monday, 22 January 2007 14:05:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

After the ITU New Initiatives Programme event on the Future of Voice held on 15-16 January 2007 in ITU Headquarter, David Allen provided his direct comment on few issues discussed during the meeting.

To see video material, please click here.


Monday, 22 January 2007 13:09:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 19 January 2007

The ITU workshop The Future of Voice held on the 15th and 16th of January 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland looked, inter alia, at the voice traffic and revenue trends in the last fifteen years.

On the global level, local and national long-distance reported telephone minutes per capita were growing in the 1990s and stably falling since the beginning of the new decade. A notable exception of the general rule is the US experiencing continuous growth in the number of local minutes: in 15 years, the number of local minutes per capita has grown four-fold. The international outgoing traffic grew significantly over the last fifteen years: in the Republic of Korea, in 2005 it was 15 times more intensive than in 1990, in the US – five times. Even though, since the beginning of the new century, the international voice traffic tends to slowly decrease.

If we look at the global telecom revenue, we will see the stable global expansion of the sector over the whole period. Voice revenue as a percentage of the total remains stable, while the traffic generated by users has doubled. In 2004, as in 1991, voice constituted more than 80% of telecom revenue surpassing, by far, income from any other source. In the coming years, voice is expected to stay strong driven by falling prices and increasing volumes of traffic.

What are the drivers behind these trends? Enlarged number of users, competition and market liberalization, enhanced innovation and emerging alternative communication platforms, migration to all-IP environment or all of these and more? The dynamics of development of the telecom sector is driven today by multiple factors in an increasingly complex environment both in developed and developing countries. Pressures are forcing change at different levels – market, regulation, type of technology, framed by the shift towards the emerging global economy.

For more insights of the debate on the future of voice, see the complete presentation of Tim Kelly, Head and Jaroslaw Ponder, Policy Analyst of the Strategy & Policy Unit of ITU.

More presentations and background materials on the subject can be found at the Future of Voice website.

Friday, 19 January 2007 14:59:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 18 January 2007

ITU held a workshop entitled The Future of Voice on the 15th and 16th of January 2007 at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This workshop organized under the ITU New Initiatives Programme focused on the role of voice communications in the future ubiquitous network environment.

For a long time, voice services have been the principal driver of telecommunication revenue and will probably continue to drive demand for some time. Nevertheless, it is becoming harder to sustain traditional models of per-minute pricing for voice as the service is increasingly carried over data channels that are priced on a flat-rate basis. Some of the key issues discussed during the event include:

• How are voice services evolving and what does this mean for users, providers and the telecommunication industry as a whole?
• How will fixed, mobile and internet-based phone services converge?
• How does messaging, gaming, multimedia fit in?
• Are voice services of the future most likely to be billed by the minute, by volume, or on a flat rate basis?
• What regulatory freedom should be given to operators to bundle voice with other services (e.g., multiple play: voice, video, internet and mobility)?
• What form of licensing, if any, will be necessary for voice service providers?
• What will be the new business models and revenue streams?
• What are the residual universal service obligations (e.g. emergency calls) that should be imposed on voice providers?

All presentations and background papers as well as a web archive of the event (video and audio) are available on the workshop website.

Thursday, 18 January 2007 13:43:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Several Internet-related Decisions and Resolutions were adopted at the ITU 2006 Plenipotentiary Conference. These include:

  • DECISION GT-PLEN/A (Antalya, 2006): Fourth World Telecommunication Policy Forum
  • RESOLUTION 101 (Rev. Antalya, 2006): Internet Protocol-based networks
  • RESOLUTION 102 (Rev. Antalya, 2006): ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses
  • RESOLUTION 130 (Rev. Antalya, 2006): Strengthening the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies
  • RESOLUTION 133 (Rev. Antalya, 2006): Role of administrations of Member States in the management of internationalized (multilingual) domain names
  • RESOLUTION GT-PLEN/7 (Antalya, 2006): Study on the participation of all relevant stakeholders in the activities of the Union related to the World Summit on the Information Society

The text of these resolutions and decisions can be found here.

Thursday, 18 January 2007 11:09:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 15 January 2007

The ITU has just published a Survey on Radio Spectrum Management, available for download here (.pdf format).

The survey was prepared by Marco Obiso, Cristina Bueti, Rochi Koirala and Lorenzo Mele of the Strategy and Policy Unit (ITU).

Together with other background papers will form part of the input material for an international ITU/FUB Workshop on Market Mechanisms for Spectrum Management to be held in Geneva (Switzerland) from 22-23 January 2007.

The Advance Programme for the workshop is now on-line, and will be regularly updated.

More information about the Workshop can be found here.

More information about the Shaping Tomorrow’s Networks Programme can be found here.

Monday, 15 January 2007 20:17:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 18 December 2006

A presentation entitled Update on ITU Cybersecurity and Countering Spam Activities (PDF), was made by Robert Shaw, Deputy Head, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, at the 2nd Joint London Action Plan (LAP) - EU Contact Network of Spam Authorities (CNSA) meeting on 13-14 December in Brussels.

At the same event, Mark Sunner of MessageLabs gave a presentation entitled Security Landscape Update describing the latest kinds of security threats, including the emergence of a new peer-to-peer 'SpamThru' zombie botnet (Slide 7).

Monday, 18 December 2006 14:25:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 13 December 2006

A detailed presentation by Joe St. Sauver at a recent Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group meeting in Toronto, Canada describes how spammers are now resorting to hijacking IP address blocks.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006 15:03:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 11 December 2006

8 December 2006 At last week's ITU WORLD TELECOM FORUM in Hong Kong, China, a special event was held entitled Countering Spam Cooperation Agenda. The agenda with submitted presentations from the meeting is now available on the WSIS Action Line C5: Partnerships for Global Cybersecurity website.

Monday, 11 December 2006 17:06:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 09 December 2006

ComputerWorld article describes Microsoft's battles with hackers: the software giant fights off more than 100,000 attacks every month.

[via Slashdot]

Saturday, 09 December 2006 10:57:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 06 December 2006

One of the Intenet's pioneers, Dr. Larry Roberts, gave a presentation yesterday at ITU World Telecom Forum 2006 in Hong Kong entitled Optimizing the Internet Quality of Service and Economics for the Digital Generation. Dr. Roberts discussed standardization work in the ITU on end-to-end QoS signalling to better deliver video over the Internet. In particular, he discussed the work on a new flow based, in-band signaling standard called Y.flowreq.



Wednesday, 06 December 2006 08:04:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 04 December 2006

The eighth edition of the ITU Internet Reports, entitled "" was prepared especially for ITU TELECOM World 2006 (December 4-8 2006, Hong Kong)and is available now online. The report examines how innovation in digital technology is radically changing individual and societal lifestyles.

Chapter one: going digital outlines the meanings of "digital" and reflects on the many ways of being digital. Around one in every three people on the planet now carries a digital mobile phone around with them wherever they go. Globally, more hours are spent consuming digital media, such as the internet, than any analogue media, including television and radio. Digital technologies are transforming businesses and governments, and changing the ways we live and interact. We are witnessing what has been termed a “digital revolution”, which had its beginnings in the early 1980s and refers to the replacement of analogue devices and services with their digital successors. This technological shift has brought about considerable change in the human condition itself, especially in its socioeconomic and cultural aspects.

The transition from narrowband to broadband digital networks (figure below) is now well-advanced in the fixed-line world where there were some 216 million broadband subscribers across the world at the end of 2005, amounting to just over half the total number of internet subscribers and around one-fifth of total fixed lines.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, new challenges and important dilemmas arise for businesses and policy-makers. Private individuals, too, are faced with a bewildering number of choices for their information and communications needs.

If you are eager to discover more about these challenges as well as about the importance of being digital and digital ubiquity, you can download chapter one: going digital.

The full text of the report is available online at the website.  For more information about the report, contact lara.srivastava(a)

Monday, 04 December 2006 14:52:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In conjunction with the Forum at ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006, 4-8 December in Hong Kong, China, ITU is organizing a one day event on 8 December entitled "Countering Spam Cooperation Agenda". Key international and regional organizations involved in the fight against spam will gather to discuss greater collaborative efforts to combat spam and related threats. The event is open to all ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 participants.

See the full ITU Press Release for the event here.

Monday, 04 December 2006 11:29:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |