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ITU-T e-FLASH - Issue No. 24

ITU-T e-FLASH

Telecommunication Standardization Sector

Issue No. 24 March 2006


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 ITU-T the ICT Standard for Fifty Years
In 2006, ITU-T will celebrate 50 years of making the standards that have played a massive part in shaping the information and communications technologies (ICT) and services of today.

Formerly known as the CCITT (International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee), the body was established in 1956 and renamed as ITU-T in 1993. In that time ITU’s standards work has substantially shaped the way that we live and do business. 

Telecommunication plays an enormous role in our day-to-day lives, and if it wasn’t for ITU-T Recommendations making a simple telephone call would be impossible. Don’t underestimate what that would mean. Without telecommunication business would grind to a halt, banks would not be able to transfer money, orders could not be placed and air traffic control systems would fail. Telecommunication also has a vital role to play in emergency communications and disaster relief and has been a crucial tool in international diplomacy. Simply put, life without telephony is almost unimaginable. And as we have moved from fixed-line telephony into mobile telephony and the Internet, so has ITU’s work moved to accommodate and underpin these technologies that are becoming equally as important to the world economy.

In order to mark this momentous milestone, ITU-T will hold a one-day ceremony July 20, 2006. 

The event, while celebrating the past achievements of ITU-T, will be forward looking in focus. A main feature of the day will be a panel discussion on the future of ICTs moderated by a key industry pundit. The panel will consist of CTOs and other senior level people from some of the world’s major ICT companies. In addition CEOs from some of the world’s biggest ICT players will be invited to give keynote speeches.

More on ITU-T here. A webpage with more details on the July event and charting ITU-T’s history is under development, please contact standards@itu.int for more information.

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 Help Us To Build A Historic Record
Pertaining to the celebration of 50 years of ITU-T, a project has been initiated to collect information – anecdotes, photography, documents – that will help us chart the main achievements and history of CCITT/ITU-T. 

If you have any information or material that you believe will be useful then please contact standards@itu.int.

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 Multilingual Internet Event Announced
ITU and UNESCO will hold a Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet in Geneva from 9 - 11 May 2006.

Participation is open to any organization or individual from a country which is a member of ITU or UNESCO, and is free of charge. Written contributions are invited on the themes of the event and should be sent to multilingual@itu.int before than Tuesday 25 April 2006.

The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, adopted at the Tunis Phase of WSIS, highlights the importance of multilingualism for bridging the digital divide. It identifies ITU as taking the lead role in the implementation of information and communication infrastructure (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C2), ITU/UNESCO for access to information and knowledge (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C3), and UNESCO for cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C8).

The symposium will examine issues highlighted in paragraph 53 of the WSIS Tunis Agenda, including:

  1. Options for advancing the process for the introduction of multilingualism in a number of areas including domain names, email addresses and keyword look-up;
  2. Options for implementing programmes, also in cooperation with other appropriate organizations, that allow for the presence of multilingual domain names and content on the internet and the use of various software models in order to fight against the linguistic digital divide and ensure the participation of all in the emerging new society;
  3. Options for strengthening cooperation between relevant bodies for the further development of technical standards and to foster their global deployment;

In addition the event will review technical solutions and current experiences, identify open issues and discuss a roadmap for further steps in the direction of promoting multilingualism in the internet.

The draft agenda of the Symposium, logistic details, background information and updates relating to the event including the programme, presentations as well as details and practical information will be available on the website here. Contributions will be electronically available from the Symposium website in the language received, for discussion at the meeting.


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 Ethernet and MPLS Work Progressed
Study Group 15 saw continued progress in its work on standards to support the end-to-end rollout of Ethernet and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). This work continues the evolution of the use of Ethernet as an enterprise technology into a carrier service, and supports MPLS from a wider network perspective.

Study group experts say that ITU is the only standards body looking to support the choice of either Ethernet or MPLS as an end-to-end network technology. In effect ITU is addressing both technologies as part of one packet transport network, focusing in addition on their seamless interoperability.

Work in the Ethernet field progressed at the February meeting aims to allow per user, service provider, and network operator service level monitoring and assurance; fault isolation to target maintenance and repair and to enable automatic protection switching, network management and the possibility of reuse of SDH management systems.

This work is based on, and enabled by the work recently completed on Ethernet operations, administration and maintenance (OAM) in Study Group 13 with their consent of new Recommendation Y.1731 (see story). The follow-on work in SG 15 includes amendments to the layer network architecture (G.8010/Y.1306) and the Ethernet equipment Recommendations (G.8021/Y.1341), and a new Recommendation on Ethernet protection switching (G.8031/Y.1342), which according to Study Group experts will give operators the opportunity to offer close to 100 per cent availability of Ethernet services for the first time. This is achieved using a system that uses a predefined alternative route if the most direct is broken.

In the field of MPLS a raft of new work aims to allow operators to adopt this technology end-to-end. MPLS is widely embraced in backbone networks as a way to speed up routers. Lately some have advocated its use further downstream in access networks, there have even been suggestions to extend this as far as customer premises. ITU’s work seeks to support this, but additionally to allow the seamless interworking between Ethernet and MPLS. This has been progressed in SG 15 through the completion of a new set of Recommendations for Transport MPLS (T-MPLS), a technology which uses a subset of the components defined in the MPLS Layer Network Architecture of Recommendation G.8110 to support packet transport applications that adhere to ITU-T layer network architecture principles. A T-MPLS layer network can operate independently of its clients and its associated control networks (i.e., multi-carrier or single carrier networks (MCN, SCN) and can carry a variety of client traffic types. This independence affords network operators the freedom necessary to design robust packet transport networks for their own use and to transport customer traffic. T-MPLS is designed to behave consistently with existing transport technologies, thus offering the operational characteristics, performance and reliability that network operators require from carrier-class technologies. The new Recommendations for this technology cover the T-MPLS layer network architecture (G.8110.1/Y.1370.1), interfaces for the T-MPLS Hierarchy (G.8112/Y.1371), and T-MPLS Equipment (G.8121/Y.1381).

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 Online Event Examines VDSL 2 Migration
John McDonald, a member of the ITU team that created the new VDSL 2 standard, will take part in an upcoming Webinar on this topic, Monday, April 03. The Webinar hosted by Light Reading will look at this development and explore the significance and implications of the new standard for both operators and the enormous installed base of DSL subscribers.

ITU’s new VDSL 2 (Very High-Speed DSL 2) standard (ITU-T Recommendation G.993.2) delivers up to 100 Mbit/s both up and downstream, a tenfold increase over ADSL (Asymmetric DSL). By doing so, it 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.

VDSL 2 will allow operators to compete with cable and satellite providers by offering services such as high-definition TV (HDTV), video-on-demand, videoconferencing, high-speed Internet access, and advanced voice services, over a standard copper telephone cable.

As well as addressing fast-growing consumer demand for high-speed multimedia services, VDSL 2 offers carriers a solution that is interoperable with the DSL equipment many already have in place, expediting migration of customers to new VDSL 2-based products. In addition, VDSL 2 will work with both legacy ATM networks and next generation IP-based networks.

Register to take part in this online event here.

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 Amended Fibre Standard Gives Operator Savings
A revision to a commonly used ITU-T Recommendation will extend use of fibre previously used mainly in core networks to metropolitan or regional networks. Crucially it also has the potential to greatly reduce operating costs for network providers.

G.655 for non-zero dispersion-shifted fibre (NZDSF) was originally designed to support DWDM long distance core, it was designed to reduce a phenomenon called four wave mixing (an interaction between wavelengths that generates additional optical channels). The impressive improvement in dispersion profiles afforded by G.655 fibre together with the development of the G.692 standard for optical interfaces for multichannel systems with optical amplifiers led to an explosion in the market for DWDM systems experts say.

Reduced dispersion allows sending signals over greater distances without dispersion compensation, meaning that operators will be able to avoid using a compensator and amplifier as well as the costs associated with this; power, protection, housing and security.

The revision to G.655 (full title, Characteristics of a non-zero dispersion-shifted single-mode optical fibre and cable) deals with chromatic dispersion, a phenomenon which at low levels counteracts distortion, but at high-levels can make a signal unusable. The management of chromatic dispersion is crucial as the number of wavelengths used in WDM systems increases. ITU has a history of providing the specifications that allow operators to most efficiently handle this. The revision allows more efficient use of the properties of chromatic dispersion by more stringently defining its existence. It defines chromatic dispersion in two new categories that can be exploited by systems designers as necessary.

The need for the work stemmed from systems' designers want to better understand dispersion. And a result is that experts saw a use for G.655 cable in metro or regional networks where it had previously only been used in core networks.

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 Geneva Event Focuses On RFID
"ITU can play an important role in furthering international standardization efforts (for networked RFID) in addition to raising awareness about the challenges and opportunities of this exciting new technology." That was a conclusion of attendees representing standards bodies, telecoms service providers, vendors and academia at a recent workshop Networked RFID: Systems and Services.

Participants agreed that standardization in the field is essential in order to roll out the technology on a global scale. Experts agree that standards so far have developed in a fragmented way; one example is the to-date weak coordination between different regional bodies. Event steering committee chairman, Pierre-Andre Probst, said that many new work areas have been identified for ITU as a result of the workshop, giving further momentum to work already started in some ITU-T Study Groups. Contributions on RFID are expected in the Study Group meetings taking place in April (Korea, Switzerland and Japan) and based on the outcome of discussions here an action plan will be developed in May.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a key part of the so-called Internet of Things, or as one session chair put it: "RFID is part of a larger vision of future technological ubiquity".

Object-to-object communication has the potential to revolutionise commerce, with many areas of business already benefiting from the use of RFID. But there are wide ranging applications for this new technology beyond just making money. For example in Japan there have been trials to use RFID to track children on the way to school, making sure they get safely to their destination. In European ski resorts, RFID ensures that skiers don't have to fish around in their pockets with cold hands for their ski passes now that RFID equipped passes have become widely adopted. A more serious upshot of this application is that now resort managers know how many people are on the slopes at any given time, crucial information in an emergency.

As the technology takes off, increasingly complicated applications are envisaged. RFID systems are moving from closed reader and tag systems to systems where there is a need for a network to share data. While now incipient, presenters at the workshop forecast that the message traffic will increase exponentially over the next 10 years, which will have an impact on existing and future communication infrastructure. And this is where the need for standards becomes more of an imperative.

The 'Internet of things' it was said will lead to a new set of network requirements and capabilities as potentially billions of tags start to transmit data. Network requirements and capabilities for more-complicated services that include sensors must also be taken into account. Sensors can monitor environmental variables. Their combination with RFIDs will not only identify people or objects, but also provide in addition to location other dynamic attributes such as temperature, movement and acceleration.

Specifically ITU expects to examine network and service architecture, requirements for machine-to-machine communication, security, information service protocols, interoperability, data format, radio frequency spectrum allocation, network performance and quality of service in its technical study groups.

As far as security is concerned, consumer protection, namely privacy and data protection, has hindered user acceptance and so addressing this area is seen as a prerequisite for public acceptance. ITU has much experience in this field, particularly in the important area of alignment with policy and regulatory issues.

Global frequency harmonization is a hindrance according to some experts towards achieving supply chain efficiencies and security. This is a topic expected to be raised at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), Geneva, 2007, and workshop participants suggested the need to establish RFID as a Primary Service.

ITU is also expected to help coordinate ongoing standards work in the field in order to avoid work duplication. Among the groups operating in the area are ISO, ETSI, IEEE, EPCglobal and Near Field Communication Forum.

For more on RFID; ITU-T's Technology Watch, ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) report, the Internet of Things). All presentations and an audio archive of the event are also available.
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 End-to-End Visibility In Multi-Carrier Networks
A new Recommendation identifies the needs required to give end-to-end visibility of client services carried across multi-carrier networks. Without this ability carriers have often had to wait for customers to report problems before they can begin to address them.

The Recommendation - G.8601 - identifies the requirements for the next stage of work which will focus on methodologies to address this issue. Study group experts report that contributions to this end have already
been received.

G.8601 defines architectural requirements for the edge-to-edge management of client services transported over various transport network topologies and technologies. The services for which such management capabilities are required are also included.

The requirements for the transference of the management data between the edge points are described along with the requirements for accessibility to management information at some point in the network, other than the end point.

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 Optical Interface Rec Updated With FEC
G.959.1, the Recommendation that increased the capacity for multi-vendor optical interfaces developed to exploit the demand for high capacity Internet routers (see press release), has been updated to help further reduce costs for operators. The use of forward error correction (FEC) as defined in ITU-T Rec. G.709 will allow operators to transport data more cost-effectively through the use of lower cost electro-optics.

FEC is a method of sending redundant information with the data in one-way communication in order to allow the receiver to reconstruct the data if there was an error in transmission.

Experts say that in the last few years they have seen a shift in demand from operators who are now looking to maximize return on investment rather than increase distance covered etc. The revision of this Recommendation addresses this need. 

This work forms part of ITU’s ongoing work in optical transport networks (OTN) which encourages a fair market for manufacturers and operators, and ultimately encourages better service for consumers. It has been developed with input from the Optical Interworking Forum (OIF).

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 Free Space Optics Standards Start
ITU-T will publish the first ITU-T Recommendation in the area of free-space optics. FSO is an area dominated by proprietary solutions, the new Rec means that users of FSO systems will be able to co-locate FSO solutions provided by different manufacturers for the first time.

FSO systems use lasers or LEDs to transmit data between two points with line of sight up to 2km. Typically this means between the top of buildings. Data rates of up to 1.25 Gbps are available.

As well as use in fixed settings like between tall office buildings. FSO systems have proven useful in disaster relief where telecoms infrastructure has been damaged and a quick fix is necessary. Equally FSO systems are used where there is no existing infrastructure as a way of avoiding disruptive and expensive cable laying. They are spectrum license free and protocol independent so will happily carry Ethernet, SDH signals etc.

The ITU-T Rec. G.640 will allow the co-location of FSO systems without interference with each other. 

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