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 Monday, 04 April 2011
A document agreed at a recent ITU meeting gives developing countries tools that will allow them to negotiate better rates for Internet connectivity (IIC). Agreement was reached at a meeting of ITU-T’s Study Group 3 and  following an ITU-T Workshop on IP traffic flow measurement.

The agreement was a breakthrough following many years of negotiation (see here for some historical background).

The agreed document is a supplement to Recommendation ITU-T D.50 which recommends how those involved in the provision of international Internet connections negotiate and agree to bilateral commercial arrangements enabling direct international Internet connections that take into account the possible need for compensation between them for the value of elements such as traffic flow, number of routes, geographical coverage and cost of international transmission amongst others.

Specifically the supplement focuses on how IP traffic flows can be measured at different points, including at Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) at interconnect points. The ability to manage this without a change to BGP was one point of contention.  The agreement also acknowledges that that traffic flow can be measured via BGP without any change to that protocol as well as there are a variety of ways that traffic flow can be measured.

The agreement is also considered a step forward in fulfilling the mandate given to ITU in Resolution 101 from last year’s Plenipotentiary conference. The Resolution asks ITU to “…continue the study of international Internet connectivity as an urgent matter, as called for in § 50 d) of the Tunis Agenda, and to call upon ITU-T, in particular Study Group 3 which has responsibility for Recommendation ITU-T D.50, to complete as soon as possible its studies that have been ongoing since WTSA-2000.”

In June 2004 an amendment to ITU-T Recommendation D.50 was made to set out general considerations for parties to negotiate Internet interconnection. These considerations can be used to assist two parties to an interconnection agreement to negotiate in a more harmonized way. The latest agreement builds on this.

The area is a key concern for ITU as it was mandated by WSIS to examine the topic. Paragraph 27 – C of the Tunis Agenda:

“27.  We recommend improvements and innovations in existing financing mechanisms, including:
C      Providing affordable access to ICTs, by the following measures:
i.     Reducing international Internet costs charged by backbone providers, supporting, inter alia, the creation and development of regional ICT  backbones and Internet Exchange Points to reduce interconnection cost and broaden network access;
ii.     Encouraging ITU to continue the study of the question of the International Internet Connectivity (IIC) as an urgent matter to develop appropriate Recommendations.”              

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