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Telecommunication Standardization Sector 

 October 2011  
International agreement on ‘green ICT’ methodology - ITU addresses conflict minerals, environmentally-friendly batteries
ITU has underlined its key role in green ICT with a raft of announcements by Study Group 5 of its Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

A meeting of the group in Seoul, Korea has seen agreement on a globally-recognized set of methodologies to assess the environmental impact of information and communications technology (ICT). It also saw agreement to produce a report on due diligence guidelines for conflict minerals supply, and to study environmental protection and recycling solutions for batteries for mobile phones and other ICT devices.

Estimates of how much ICTs can reduce global emissions – and estimates of the emissions generated by the ICT sector itself – still vary widely, due to the application of different measurement methodologies. After the problem was raised by delegates to ITU’s ‘ICTs and Climate Change’ symposium in 2008, ITU took on the challenge and has pioneered adoption of a new globally-agreed set of standards.

To ensure consistency between different approaches, the new methodology has been developed in cooperation with other standardization organizations such as ISO, IEC, ETSI and ATIS. The new methodology is also aligned with the Digital Agenda of the European Commission.

Rare earth minerals are used in consumer electronics products such as mobile phones, DVD players, video games and computers. The report will provide guidance to ICT entities seeking to exercise due diligence on, and formalize the origin and chain of custody of, conflict minerals used in their products and on their suppliers to ensure that conflict minerals used in their products do not directly or indirectly finance armed conflict or result in labour or human rights violations. Agreement to address this issue demonstrates the ICT industry’s commitment to sustainability at all levels of the value chain.

Following on from the success of ITU’s Universal Charging Solution for mobile devices (Recommendation ITU-T L.1000), the meeting also agreed to study the benefits and disadvantages of the standardization of batteries for mobile terminals and other ICT devices, looking at energy efficiency over the battery life cycle, eco-design information, battery lifetime and exchangeability, safety and environmental protection, recycling and reuse. This could lead to a reduction of harmful materials used in batteries and an increased lifespan of ICT products. Battery manufacturers, device manufacturers, operators and users will all benefit, say experts.

For more on this story
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Technology Watch spots trends in video games and gaming
The latest report from the ITU-T Technology Watch series surveys some of the hottest developments in the world of video games, describes the most common gaming platforms and terminals, highlights new technologies enabling a better gaming experience, and identifies future standardization activities.

Over the past 30 years, video games have become an important part of contemporary global entertainment and media. Games and gaming have evolved from dedicated, single-game units to massively multiplayer online role-player games with millions of players. Today they are a huge media business worth billions of dollars, and its bestsellers continuously beat blockbuster movies in sales revenue.

The ever increasing expansion of the Internet has significantly contributed to the growth of gaming on dedicated video game consoles and PCs. The possibility to compete with other players around the world is taken for granted by most players. Mobile broadband and the growing penetration of smartphones brings further movement into the gaming ecosystem. Independent developers and small start-up companies are able to compete in the market and deliver their games to huge audiences. The latest step is the rise of social network games on platforms with hundreds of millions of users. These transformations have not only changed the way games look today, they have also influenced the audience and the business models of the gaming industry.

Consumers are beginning to struggle with the ever-increasing number of set top-boxes, satellite receivers and gaming consoles. It is a logical and certainly desirable goal to integrate these closely related technologies on to a multipurpose , standards-based multimedia platform. Incorporating a variety of audiovisual technologies into a single 3D TV device is understandably a task demanding a great degree of standardization work. ITU will bring together service and content providers, including games developers, to attempt to standardize communication protocols, toolboxes, middleware and security frameworks.

The report and additional sources of information are available at

Experts from industry, research and academia are invited to submit topic proposals and abstracts for future reports in the Technology Watch series. Please contact the team at for details.
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ITU video codec awarded again
The 2012 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award is being presented to Gisle Bjontegaard, of Tandberg Telecom (now Cisco Systems Norway); Gary Sullivan, of Microsoft Corporation; and Thomas Wiegand, of the Berlin University of Technology, "for leadership and technical contributions to the development of the globally deployed video coding standard ITU-T H.264/MPEG4-AVC." These three innovators – who are also lead experts in ITU video coding work – will receive their award at the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE). Held annually in conjunction with the International Consumer Electronics Show, the conference will take place in Las Vegas, 13-16 January 2012.

Sponsored by Sony Corporation, this award recognises outstanding contributions in the field of consumer electronics technology, and is yet more recognition of the enormous success enjoyed by the H.264 codec. Already the recipient of a Primetime Emmy award, the codec continues to receive the praise and support of the ICT community.

ITU-T's Study Group 16 and ISO/IEC's Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) have formed the Joint Collaborative Team on video coding (JCT-VC) to work on the successor to H.264 (also standardized as ISO/IEC 14496-10, or MPEG-4 AVC). This successor – working title HEVC – is currently being formulated with approval expected in early 2013.

HEVC is likely to have native 3D capability, ensuring that this fast-paced industry can profit from standardized solutions. To many consumers, 3D TV is quickly becoming a very attractive, attainable product – and standards-based solutions will only add to a more vibrant set of offerings.
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Standards Q&A Forum: Send us your questions on ITU standards
A new Standards Q&A Forum will promote more interactive discussion between the experts creating ICT standards and those applying them. The pilot project has been launched to enable the submission of queries on all aspects of ITU-T Recommendations, in particular from developing countries.

Alongside the transfer of knowledge to developing nations, industry members in the developed world gain an opportunity to tap into new markets; making their products and services known to rapidly growing markets in developing nations.

The open, moderated forum will focus on the standardization work of ITU and offers participants a unique opportunity to engage with the experts that develop the standards underpinning ICT. An FAQ section introduces strangers to standardization and the ITU-T, covering all manner of questions from, “Why do we need international standards?,” to, “How does the ITU-T decide what needs standardization?” The forum is then organized into the major themes or questions being dealt with by ITU-T study groups.
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Service Delivery Platforms workshop to be held in Geneva
Study Group 13, responsible for Next Generation Networks (NGN), is hosting a workshop: Service Delivery Platforms (SDP) for Telecommunication Ecosystems: from today’s realities to the requirements and challenges of the future. Free of charge, it will take place on Monday 17 October at ITU headquarters in Geneva.

The workshop will provide an overview of the telecommunication-oriented SDP technologies already in use, as well as the challenges presented by these existing technologies. Added to this will be a particular emphasis on the future of SDP, especially with regard to the standardization activities likely to arise in the future.

For more detailed information and to register, consult the workshop’s webpage -
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ICT industry backs greenhouse gas emissions methodology - Green standards take centre stage at Rome event
The first ITU Green Standards Week closed with a call on international bodies, NGOs, standards bodies, governments, regulators, industry and academia to collaborate more closely on the application and development of information and communication technologies (ICT) standards to help combat climate change. Particular emphasis was placed on a globalized methodology to assess the environmental impact of ICTs, reducing e-waste, and the use of submarine cables for climate monitoring and disaster warning.

ITU has been working with industry and government members aiming to achieve agreement on an internationally recognized set of methodologies to be approved by the end of the year. Included is a methodology which ICT companies can use to measure their own carbon footprint, as well as a way to estimate the considerable savings in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy that can be achieved in other sectors through the use of ICTs.
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Updated : 2011-10-13