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ITU-T e-FLASH - Issue No. 16


Telecommunication Standardization Sector

Issue No. 16 May 2005


 The Lighthouse, a new Communications Centre for ITU-T
17 May – World Telecommunication Day will see the launch of a new ITU-T communications centre - The Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse will provide a user-friendly and alternative view of ITU-T, shedding light on activities, past, present and future by offering non-technical explanations of work areas, news, features and FAQs.

While the e-Flash will still be published monthly, to get a real up-to-date feel of the goings-on at ITU-T check The Lighthouse’s live news feed. 

The news feed, using a system called RSS is divided into channels (NGN, QoS, multimedia etc.) that can be subscribed to individually. So, for example, if you are just interested in stories on NGN, subscribe to this channel and news will be delivered to your desktop as soon as it is published. 

Additionally, The Lighthouse will carry weightier feature stories and technical papers. These articles will be written by TSB staff, commissioned from or submitted by industry experts (members and non-members), academics or ITU’s regional offices. If you are interested in submitting material for this purpose please contact

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 Grid Presentation at ITU-T Meeting
ITU members are increasingly signalling the interest of the telecommunications community in grid computing. The technology is under study by the Technology Watch within ITU-T. And following discussions between the Global Grid Forum (GGF) and ITU-T, a workshop on telecoms and grids is planned for 2006. 

On behalf of GGF, Franco Travostino of Nortel gave a presentation at the recent Study Group 13 meeting in Geneva. In it he gave an introduction to the work of the forum, also explaining the basics of grids. 

Travostino describes grid computing as a software platform for distributed participants to form a virtual organization, securely share resources, and engage in coordinated problem-solving activities.

There are a number of areas of interest for the telecoms industry. At a simple level, telcos could use grids internally, for billing and simulations for example. They could also offer grid managed services, or act as service brokers. 

Travostino pointed out that the discussion on grids involves more than just how to provide bigger pipes. There are other issues that may be of interest to ITU-T, such as how to control the network, how to manage dynamic provisioning and how to provide collision-free addresses (IPv4 <-> NAT).

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 Standards Improve Web Services Efficiency

Work has been completed in Study Group 17 on the development of Recommendations that could see web services (web-based application to application communication) being adopted in areas such as mobile telephony. 

Web services are a standard way for all types of software to interoperate across programming languages, platforms and operating systems. They give a structured way to format data - using XML - such that it is easier for different types of programs to communicate. An example of an area that might benefit from increased efficiency in this area would be the integration of enterprise applications in a large supply chain.

The issue that the new Recommendations address is that structured data in XML contains a lot of redundant information which slows processing down. And, because of this the adoption of web services in certain areas such as mobile telephony where constraints include bandwidth and the ability of mobile devices to process data, have been limited. 

The new Recs (X.892 and X.891) solve the problem using ITU notation language ASN.1 to specify alternative and more efficient codings of structured data, both in terms of size and processing speed. 

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 Standards Training II
Following an oversubscribed first course aimed at managers involved in standardization, IEC, ISO and ITU, the three organizations that make up the World Standards Cooperation initiative (WSC), recently staged another event. 

The thirty or so people who attended the Standardization Community Management Course, 11-24 April, Geneva hailed from a wide range of backgrounds, sharing just the need to understand more of the standardization process. 

With titles like 'What are international standards?', 'Why are international standards essential?' and 'How are international standards used?', plenary sessions focused on the general, with breakout sessions hosted by the individual organizations going into more detail on their working practices. 

Other sessions focused on the history of standards, the importance of standardization, legal issues, the working practices of the three organizations and how standards are marketed.

Attendees were taken on a field visit to see 'standards in action' at a close-by Swisscom telephone exchange. Among highlights were a description of what part standards will play in the offering of 'triple-play' (voice, video, data) services. 

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 A New Way to Look at ITU-T Recommendations
A tool recently made available on the ITU-T website gives users a new way to look at ITU-T Recommendations.

The tool was developed to address a need of members to better manage the assignment of Recommendation numbers. But it also gives an excellent overview of recommendations showing in a 'tree structure' the different series and sub-series, the study groups responsible for them, recommendations that are shared by different study groups, recently withdrawn recommendations etc.

One Study Group chair said: “Having wrestled with trying to find a better way to list recommendations allocated to study groups, I am very pleased to see the substantial progress this tool represents. It is a huge step forward. I think this tool will stimulate all the study groups to review what is under their responsibility and to go about rationalizing the issues in assignments, names, groupings, etc.”

See the tool here

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 Video and Image Coding Workshop
In between the meetings of two lead technical groups working on image and video compression, ISO/IEC's JPEG and ITU-T's Study Group 16, ITU will host a workshop on Video and Image Coding and Applications (VICA) at ITU headquarters, Geneva, 22 to 23 July. 

Key experts will join users to review the development, assessment and application of video and image coding and to discuss and start work on an action plan and a roadmap for VICA standardization.

Presentations will instigate discussion on how standards work in the field, including how next generation networks (NGN) can support the development of so-called ubiquitous services - any device, anytime, anywhere. Current work on home network environments will also be taken into account.

Also at the event there will be an interoperability demonstration showing various products using related standards.

All interested parties are free to attend. 

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 Wideband Speech Event

ITU-T will lend its support for a second time to an event on the topic of wideband speech quality in terminals and networks held by ETSI. The last event concluded that there is a lack of speech quality specifications and adequate tools for assessment and planning of wideband speech communication systems. This is a critical issue as wideband systems are to be one of the driving factors in next generation networks (NGN).

To be held 22-23 June, Mainz, Germany, this workshop will provide an overview of developments since last year's event, including the voice quality prediction tool or e-model designed by ITU-T experts (see previous e-Flash story). Additionally the event will examine in technical detail the general aspects of terminal testing and reference points for wideband terminals, and there will be discussion on the requirements for wideband applications that are specific to wireless and VoIP scenarios. 

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 Open Standards an ITU-T Perspective
A draft ITU-T definition of the term 'open standards' has been developed by ITU-T's group of experts on intellectual property rights (IPR).

It's deemed necessary to do this to avoid confusion given the various different interpretations of the term. This way when 'open standards' are referred to in discussion, it is clear exactly what is being talked about - at least in ITU-T.

The draft definition can be seen here.

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Updated : 2005-05-17