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 Monday, November 21, 2005

The announcement (18 November) that ITU’s Focus Group on NGN (FGNGN) has completed work on the first set of standards for next generation networks (NGN) marks a significant step towards a fundamental reworking of the world’s information and communications technologies networks. With NGN, network operators hope to replicate the level of service and reliability that customers have come to expect in telecommunication systems across all ICT networks.

The milestone reached with the launch of the Release 1 set of specifications has been achieved in a very short time by members of ITU’s Focus Group on NGN (FGNGN). FGNGN is made up of representatives of the world’s telecoms service and network providers, manufacturers and governments.

Telecoms companies around the world are starting to make the move from the traditional circuit switched networks that have essentially been in place since the earliest days of telecommunications to an Internet Protocol (IP) based system that will create cost efficiencies and allow a much greater level of diversity for service providers. Release 1 will serve as an invaluable tool to facilitate this rollout.

Contained within the 900 pages of ‘deliverables’ are some of the high-level architecture and frameworks for NGN. ITU’s next phase of NGN work – to be called the NGN-GSI (for global standards initiative) - will focus on the detailed protocols necessary to offer the wide range of services expected in NGN. It is also expected that the GSI will aim to harmonize different approaches to NGN architecture in different parts of the world.

Houlin Zhao, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU said: “Industry is backing NGN to the tune of billions of dollars. And ITU is very proud that the world’s manufacturers of telecoms equipment, network and service providers and administrations have entrusted us with this work. They understand that global standards will stimulate innovation and superior technology and enable interoperability, protecting current and future investment. ITU is the only body in the world that will be able to offer the necessary convergence between different NGN platforms on a global basis if they emerge.”

Since extending the reliability of telecoms networks into Internet Protocol based systems is key to the success of NGN, quality of service (QoS) specifications have been a strong focus of NGN work. Additionally, security aspects, universal access and the separation of services from the underlying network have been important topics covered.

The NGN-GSI will build on the momentum generated over the past year. The period 2004-2005 has seen meetings and workshops progressing work on NGN around the world. Participation in and contributions to this work are continuing to increase.

The next phase of ITU-T NGN work will see a significant re-organization of work schedules to ensure that experts from different Study Groups are able to meet at the same time. The meeting schedule has also been designed to maintain the brisk pace established during the first phase of the NGN work, and to meet members’ demands.