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ITU-T e-FLASH - Issue No. 2


Telecommunication Standardization Sector

Issue No. 2 March 2004

NGN on the Agenda
A recent meeting of Study Group 13 saw a proposal for a next generation network (NGN) Study Group to centralize ITU's work on the topic. A set of questions has been developed and the proposal will be submitted at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) in October.

The meeting progressed work already started on NGN and also agreed on a working definition for the oft-used but ill-defined term. An NGN, agreed the meeting, is a packet-based network able to make use of multiple broadband, QoS-enabled transport technologies and in which service-related functions are independent from underlying transport-related technologies. It offers unrestricted access by users to different service providers. It supports generalized mobility, which will allow consistent and ubiquitous provision of services to users. The working definition is available here.

Operators, manufacturers and administrations who make up the membership of ITU have called for NGN work to take renewed priority. Study Group chairman Brian Moore said that the group's last two meetings had seen increased attendance - primarily because of the inclusion of NGN on the agenda and growing interest in the topic within the telecoms industry.

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ITU Video Coding Specifications Adopted by Leading Organization
The DVD Forum has provisionally adopted ITU's H.264 AVC Video codec as mandatory for the upcoming HD-DVD Video specification for DVD players. DVD Forum defines DVD format specifications, and is a voluntary association of more than 200 companies from the consumer electronics, information technology and entertainment industries. H.264's adoption by the forum is an important step on the way to H.264 becoming the leading video codec in this major consumer market.

H.264, ratified in 2003, surpasses earlier video standards in terms of video quality, compression efficiency and resilience. In a significant number of test cases coding efficiency with H.264 improved by two times or greater. In addition to the potential for better image quality, improved data compression offers advantages in terms of greater media storage, meaning that it is possible to put more video files onto media such as DVD.

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Gigabit to the Home a Step Closer
The ITU Study Group responsible for optical networks has completed another step in the development of a family of standards that will allow service-providers to deploy all-optical networks.

The protocols for gigabit-capable passive optical networks (G-PONs) are used to connect residential and SME premises in an all-fibre network.

All optical networks will allow service-providers to deliver applications such as video-on-demand, streamed video, on-line games and VoIP. With PONs, signals are carried by lasers and sent to their destination without the need for active electronics. By eliminating the dependence on expensive active network elements, carriers can realize significant savings. PON technology is used in the local loop to connect end-user premises in an all fiber network.

The new standards - G.984 series - build on the existing and widely adopted G.983 series Recommendations relating to broadband PONs, by providing unprecedented network capacity. Increasing capacity to gigabit levels should more than satisfy foreseeable customer demands. G-PON maintains the same optical distribution network, wavelength plan and full-service network design principles of G.983. As well as allowing for increased network capacity, the new standards offer more efficient IP and Ethernet handling.

The latest work just completed - Recommendation G.984.3 - deals with specifications for frame, message, ranging, operation, administration and maintenance (OAM) functionality and security. It also defines a new flexible multiplexing and framing technique known as 'GEM: G-PON Encapsulation Method'. This approach will allow a wide range of service delivery mechanisms with QoS capability using dynamic bandwidth assignment.

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All-Star Gathering in Geneva
ITU-T Study Group 15, the leader in standardizing xDSL and optical access technologies, is organizing a workshop to bring together the main players and standards development organizations (SDOs) in network access technology.

The All Star Network Access workshop, to be held Geneva, 2-4 June, promises to provide an overview of all access technologies. A veritable alphabet soup of technologies will be represented including traditional copper, (x)DSL, wireless, metro-ethernet, satellite, fibre to the home (FTTH), CATV and powerline.

Among the keynote speeches, BT Group Technology Officer, Mick Reeve and Hans-Ulrich Sch÷n, Vice President, Siemens AG, Carrier Products have confirmed their participation. These key industry players will be joined by many other important representatives of government, manufacturers, service providers and SDOs at the event.

To augment the workshop, ITU has announced that it will stage an exhibition and poster session allowing the industry to showcase its products. Exhibitors will be given the chance to provide product demonstrations and have staff on hand to explain features to attendees. Interested parties can fill in the form here or contact

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Standards Organizations Discuss Medical Technologies
The World Standards Cooperation (WSC), an entity created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ITU-T and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently held its first workshop at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva. The High-Level Workshop on International Standards for Medical Technologies lined up major players including industry, regulators, representatives of the patient care community and SDOs from all regions of the world to review the present situation and highlight the main trends in the sector, providing input on priorities, programmes and approaches for the development of standards and conformity assessment frameworks that respond to market and society needs.

In his opening speech Houlin Zhao, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau said: "Tackling standardization in this area is I believe, crucial, as the medical community becomes increasingly reliant on new technologies. When the goals of industry, government and the patient care community are consistent, as they are within the standardization process, the needs of all interested and affected parties can be met. Standardization will reduce reliance on single suppliers and allow a disparate set of solutions to work together. The importance of this to the developing world especially, cannot be understated."

Participants at the workshop made a number of recommendations, including:
  • Calling for closer cooperation between ISO, IEC, ITU-T and WHO as well as other SDOs
  • Simplifying and speeding up the standards development process
  • Ensuring standards are responsive and relevant to current market needs
  • Relying on the use of electronic tools such as videoconferencing and e-balloting
  • Meeting the needs of all stakeholders (regulators, medical community and industry) through their involvement in the standards developing process
  • Increasing the participation of developing countries
  • Focusing on the development of horizontal standards (i.e. risk management, quality management and biological safety)
  • Increasing transparency and mutual feedback among the parties concerned

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Videoconferencing and VoIP Made Easier
ITU-T is joining forces with The Video Development Initiative (ViDe) to stage a one-day workshop, 25 March, on the new H.350 'Directory Services Architecture for Multimedia Conferencing' standard ratified in August 2003.

Consider how useful it is that telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are now commonly listed together in a user's on-line directory entry, shouldn't videoconferencing and VoIP connection information be located in these same directories? With H.350, this will now be possible.

H.350 gives ICT managers the ability to manage large numbers of videoconferencing users by standardizing the way systems store contact details. The standard simplifies user configuration and provisioning of services making videoconferencing available to more people. This workshop aims to educate systems developers and users on the benefits of implementing the new standard.

Further details here.

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Convergent Regulation - Is it Becoming Technology-Neutral?
An ITU-T workshop to be held 17 May, seeks to answer the above question. The workshop aims to provide information to participants on recent developments in the European Union and elsewhere on regulatory models that are meant to be 'technology-neutral', that is, that are meant to minimize the effects of regulation on the technological choices that are made by private companies in response to market force. The workshop will include presentations detailing experiences with actual implementation of this approach in several countries, as well as discussion of possible future evolution.

Further details here.

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