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Telecommunication Standardization Sector 

 Issue No. 34 February 2008 
 WTSA-08 a first for Africa
The quadrennial event that defines the future direction for the ITU’s Standardization Sector (ITU-T) – the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) – will take place for the first time in Africa in 2008. It will also be the first chaired by a woman (Ms Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Director-General of the South African Department of Communications), and for the first time is preceded by a Global Standards Symposium (GSS). WTSA-08 will be held 21 - 30 October 2008, at the Emperors Palace, Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.

An official ‘Circular’ letter has been issued encouraging Member States and ITU-T Sector Members to participate in discussions on the future structure of the Sector: the study groups (including regional tariff groups under Study Group 3); and the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG). WTSA-08 will also be unique in that the term limit for chairmanships agreed at the WTSA-2000 will apply for the first time and many of the current chairmen and vice-chairmen will retire. Although this will mean the loss of much experience, it does offer the opportunity to consider a major restructuring of the Sector. Member States and ITU-T Sector Members are therefore advised to await the outcome of the next TSAG meeting in July, when a new structure for the Sector should be clearer, before submitting candidatures for chairmen or vice-chairmen.

The Global Standards Symposium (GSS) will be held at the same venue on 20 October 2008. It will see leading figures in the telecom/ICT field, both from government and the industry, give their vision of the future, and suggest ways of increasing the involvement of developing countries in the development and implementation of standards (bridging the standardization gap). Additionally the event will examine global ICT standards challenges, such as accessibility, climate change and collaboration among standards development organisations (SDOs). Although not formally a part of the WTSA-08, the GSS will provide a report to the WTSA for information and action as appropriate, giving participants a unique opportunity to provide input to the event that decides the future direction for ITU-T.  
   WTSA-08    ITU-T News
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 ITU board member for ICANN
Reinhard Scholl, Deputy to the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau has taken a seat on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board.

Annually, in rotation, ETSI, ITU-T and W3C appoint one non-voting liaison (TLG, Technical Liaison Group) to the ICANN Board. ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers. These include domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .UK), as well as the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols.

At ICANN’s 30th International Public Meeting in Los Angeles, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf's term as Chairman of ICANN’s Board came to an end. He was succeeded by Peter Dengate Thrush, a New Zealand lawyer and former President of InternetNZ.

The news follows a recent announcement on collaboration towards standards for the multilingual Internet made during the Internet Governance Forum.
   Naming, numbering and addressing    Numbering Resources
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 ICTs and Climate Change
ITU has issued a call for papers/speakers for its upcoming Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change, to be held April 15-16 2008 in Kyoto, Japan, hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and 17-18 June 2008 in London, hosted by BT.

The events are part of a new initiative by ITU to better understand how ICTs can help mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as monitoring its impact.

Giving impetus to this work, a new report from ITU-T shows how Information and communications technologies (ICTs) contribute to global warming, but also how they can be used to monitor climate change, to mitigate its effects, to improve energy efficiency and to reduce carbon emissions in other sectors of the economy. The report -- ICTs and Climate Change -- is the third in the new series of Technology Watch Briefing Reports, launched by ITU-T in October 2007.

Since 1970, the production of greenhouse gases has risen by more than 70 per cent, and this is having a global effect in warming the planet, causing changing weather patterns, rising sea-levels, desertification, shrinking ice cover and other worrying long-term effects. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) foresees a further rise in average global temperatures of between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees centigrade by 2030. Climate change is a concern for all of humanity and requires efforts on the part of all sectors of society, including the ICT sector. Although ICTs contribute only an estimated 2.5 per cent of total greenhouse gases, this share is set to grow as usage of ICTs expands globally, growing at a faster rate than the general economy.

ICTs are thus part of the cause of global warming, but they can also be part of the solution, for instance through the promotion of carbon displacement technologies. ICTs are also vital in monitoring the spread of global warming. One specific contribution ICTs can make is through the substitution of travel by electronic forms of communication, such as telephone calls, email or video-conferencing, all of which benefit from ITU-T's standardization work. In particular, high-performance video-conferencing, or telepresence (the topic of the second Technology Watch Briefing Report), can give the impression of 'being there, without going there'. Furthermore, ITU-T itself is also contributing to a greener future through its decision to make ITU-T Recommendations freely available online. In the mid 1990s, more than one million publications were printed by ITU but, with free Recommendations now available in electronic form, this has been cut to just a few thousand that are still printed, and carbon emissions from transport of printed copies and CD-ROMs has been greatly reduced.
   Workshops    Co-Operation    Climate Change
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 Event brings together ICT and motor industries
ITU will team up with ISO and IEC for a third time in 2008 to present the Fully Networked Car. The three organisations working together under the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) banner will host the workshop and exhibition at one of the world’s leading automotive events, the Geneva International Motor Show.

Key for 2008 is the question: How can ICTs in vehicles help mitigate and monitor climate change? The Honda Racing F1 Team has kindly agreed to display, as the key feature of the exhibition, its new 2008 F1 “Earthdreams car” to give special emphasis to the environmental theme. Experts believe that more sophisticated traffic management and driver assistance systems can help reduce the environmental impact caused by motoring. 2008 will see a keynote speech from Max Mosley, president of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), organizer of the Formula One World Championship.

In general, the event, 5 - 7 March, will focus on information and communication technologies (ICT) in motor vehicles and specifically standards that will facilitate the convergence of these industries.

ICT in vehicles represents a significant value-add for consumers in terms of safety, comfort and mobility. Predictions for the size of the market run into billions of dollars and stakeholders agree that standardization is key to the development of new technologies and that coordination between the traditionally remote vehicle manufacturing and ICT industries is crucial.

The Fully Networked Car brings together experts ranging from top decision-makers to engineers, designers, planners, government officials, regulators, standards experts and analysts. The workshop programme features speakers from some of the biggest names in the ICT and automobile industries. The panel of high-level global experts that will frame the major issues and engage the audience in discussion on this important topic come from companies including: BMW, Connexis, Fiat, Ford, Freescale Semiconductor, Honda, Intel, Motorola, Oracle, Telefonica, Telcordia, Toyota-InfoTechnology Center, T-Systems, Volvo and Wavecom.

Among other topics to be discussed are the radio spectrum used for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications; the convergence of telematics and infotainment and systems and standards related to safety.
   Co-Operation    Workshops    Study Group 12
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 Common alerting protocol becomes ITU-T Recommendation
A standard that allows a warning message to be consistently disseminated simultaneously over different systems and applications has been approved as an ITU-T Recommendation.

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) v.1.1 developed by OASIS was the basis for the text that will be published as an ITU-T Recommendation following approval on 12 September. Publication as an ITU-T Recommendation (X.1303) will help ensure that CAP is deployed worldwide giving technical compatibility for users across all countries. The goal of public warning is to reduce the damage and loss of life caused by a natural or man-made hazard event.

CAP is a simple, lightweight XML-based schema that provides a general-purpose format for the exchange of emergency alerts for safety, security, fire, health, earthquake and other events over any network. CAP associates emergency event data (such as public warning statements, photographs, sensor data or URIs) with basic metadata such as time, source and level of urgency, and with geographic locations. The original V.1.1 specification was enlarged by a binary ASN.1 specification of the CAP messages that will enable the transport of CAP messages to VoIP terminals using H.323 among other systems. Experts say the use of ASN.1 significantly reduces the size of the message and therefore the potential for network congestion. OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee has also adopted the same extension.

CAP is successfully in use by a number of public emergency services and land management agencies today, and works with a wide variety of devices and messaging methods.
   Study Group 17    Co-Operation
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 First global set of standards for IPTV
In December 2007 ITU announced the first set of global standards for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV). The standards were built with technical contributions from leading service providers and manufacturers from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and cement ITU’s role as the global leader in IPTV standards development.IPTV is one of the most highly visible services to emerge as part of the development of next-generation networks (NGN). Indeed, it is seen as both the business case and principal driver for accelerating deployment of NGN.

The new standards were developed by the Focus Group on IPTV (FG IPTV) in ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau said, "Standards are crucial for IPTV to reach its market potential and global audience. They are necessary in order to give service providers — whether traditional broadcasters, ISPs, cable operators or telecoms service providers — control over their platforms and their offerings. Standards here will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee quality of service, ensure interoperability and, ultimately, help players remain competitive."

This announcement follows the seventh and final meeting of FG IPTV hosted in Malta by the Maltese Ministry for Competitiveness and Communications. Censu Galea, Minister for Competitiveness and Communications said, "The stage of work that sees completion this week lays the groundwork for an area of ICT that some predict could attract up to 100 million subscribers in the next three years. It’s easy to see why so many of the world’s key ICT companies have been keen to progress this work in ITU. Malta is proud to host this event and play a part in advancing this important technology."

Contained within the documents produced by the Focus Group are the high-level architecture and frameworks needed by service providers in order to rollout IPTV services. ITU’s next phase of IPTV work — IPTV-GSI (global standards initiative) — will centre on the speedy preparation of standards based on documents produced by FG IPTV as well as on the detailed protocols required.

The 2006−2007 period has seen numerous physical and electronic meetings and workshops progressing work on IPTV around the world. Twenty-one documents covering IPTV requirements, architecture, quality of service (QoS), security, digital rights management (DRM), unicast and multicast, protocols, metadata, middleware and home networks will be submitted to the ITU-T Study Group charged with progressing and distributing the work. The IPTV-GSI will build on the momentum generated over the past 20 months, and it is foreseen that contributions and participation will continue to increase.

Operators consider IPTV a key element of a triple-play package of voice, video and data services. Standardization is imperative if service providers are to offer high quality products with value-additions, such as video-on-demand services that will inevitably drive the market. A combination of voice, Internet and video services over a single broadband link and from a single provider is foreseen as the ultimate goal of the broadband revolution.

FG IPTV benefited from collaboration with all ITU-T Study Groups and other forums and regional standards bodies, including ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), DSL Forum, the DVB project, ETSI TISPAN and the Home Gateway Initiative (HGI).

See also IPTV and HDTV advances.

  IPTV    Study Group 9
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 Standard to inform next of kin in emergency
A standardized way to identify next-of-kin (or other emergency contact) in a mobile handsets’ directory, for use in case of emergency, has been sent for next level approval by Study Group 2 in May 2008.Currently emergency service workers searching for contact information for the next-of-kin to an injured person have no commonly understood way of identifying that person’s details. Increasingly the directory of the injured person’s mobile handset is used, since it usually contains the names and numbers of next-of-kin. However, there is no standard way to distinguish these contacts from all other entries in the mobile handset directory.

A prefix to those contacts to be dialed in case of emergency is one solution. International standards must be useable by anyone, regardless of language or script. This requirement has been met by using Arabic numerals (the digits 0 through 9) since they are known by all users around the world.

The owner of a mobile handset can indicate contacts to be dialled in case of emergency by formatting the name in the form “0nx”, where “n” is a digit from 1 through 9 and “x” is any meaningful descriptive character string (e.g. “Anna” or “spouse” or “安娜”). In the interface it would be displayed as “01Anna” or “01spouse” or “01安娜”. This descriptive string is used for the “contact name” in the mobile handset directory; the actual number of the person to call in case of emergency is used for the corresponding “contact number”.

Once this standard is approved and widely implemented by individual mobile users around the world, any emergency service worker can look at the mobile handset directory and quickly identify entries tagged by the user as contact persons to call in case of emergencies.“

Emergency contact number notation” stands on the runway to take off as a new clause in ITU-T Recommendation E.123, which currently specifies, among other things, the familiar +41 22 123 456 notation for telephone numbers and other information commonly displayed on business cards.
Study Group 2    Numbering Resources
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 Being there without going there with telepresence
Do you remember your last video conference? Blurry faces on tiny screens, with sound that doesn’t quite synchronize with the stilted movement of the lips. After the laborious setup of cameras and microphones, you seem to spend more time worrying about technical problems than talking about the topic at hand, with repeated loss of connection. As frustration grows, and attention wanders, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that you should have arranged a face-to-face meeting instead.

A new set of technologies – referred to as Telepresence – will give users the illusion of sitting on the opposite side of the remote party’s conference table. High-definition (HD) video images and audio are transmitted via packed-based Next-Generation Networks (NGN), connecting conference rooms around the world, and covering distances of thousands of miles with zero latency. While the network infrastructure remains transparent to the user, vendors equip conference rooms with high-end displays, cameras, loudspeakers and furniture to enhance the conferencing experience. Telepresence-systems are already available on the market, and involved companies go as far as identifying the technology as a potential billion dollar market, for solution vendors as well as for network service providers (NSP).

A new ITU-T Briefing Report on Telepresence has been released as part of the Technology Watch function, which evaluates the market potential and different fields of application of Telepresence solutions in both, developed and developing countries. The report notes the standardization work currently going on in ITU, including the consideration of migrating currently used multimedia protocols, such as H.323 and SIP into a new generation of multimedia protocols, called H.325 or Advanced Multimedia Systems (AMS), that takes into consideration special aspects of security, flexibility, QoS, and support for mobile devices. This report is the second of a new series of Technology Watch Briefing Reports looking at emerging new technologies.
NGN   Study Group 15   Study Group 16
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 DSL and PON: energy saving techniques
In the context of ITU-T's efforts to address climate change issues, Study Group 15 will hold three tutorials on energy saving techniques during its February meeting.

A checklist for developers of standards is already under development in SG 15. The technologies considered in the list include optical transport networks and access network transport technologies such as digital subscriber line (DSL) and Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON). Together these technologies represent a significant consumption of energy worldwide. The idea is that the checklist is applied before the work commences, during the work and after the completion of the work. The use of the checklist should ideally be complemented by involving energy efficiency experts and users in the process.

The tutorials to be held 13, 14 and 15 February will look at the checklist as well as topics such as energy efficient Ethernet and opportunities and techniques for power saving in DSL and PON. A general introduction to the issues surrounding ICTs and climate change, (to be addressed in two upcoming ITU Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change ), and an update on the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, December 2007, will be included.
   Study Group 15 Study Group 6    Workshops
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