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 Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The group that looks at outside plant and related indoor installations in ITU-T, Study Group 6, met in Geneva during May. Five new standards (ITU-T Recommendations) will be published as a result. Delegates also looked into a possible restructuring of the group that can be presented to ITU-T's quadrennial World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) to take place in the last quarter of 2008.

In addition, the meeting saw the presentation of the first draft of a guide for developing countries on how to implement its standards. The guide, drawing on the work of the world's key experts in the field, will become an invaluable resource for service providers in developing and, in particular least developed countries. Completion of the first edition is expected for November this year.

As well as the traditional technical discussions within the working groups, a technical tutorial session was held on fibre to the home (FTTH) experiences in China, Spain, US, and Italy. Experts say that this is important for delegates to SG 6 given the fact that FTTH deployments will mean more sophisticated equipment needs to be provisioned outside the central office. A common observation was that the right solutions, in particular for the implementation of the optical fibre infrastructure, need to be cost effective not only in themselves, but in a global view, taking into account the entire product lifecycle, including installation and, above all, maintenance issues.

One new Recommendation reached the final stage of ITU-T approval. ITU-T's L-series Recommendations have long been a reference for owners of optical fibres. The new ITU-T Rec. L.66 gives maintenance criteria for in-service optical cable testing in the outside plant without disrupting normal network operation.

Two Recommendations achieving the first stage of approval - known as Consent - detail safety in high-power optical cables and protection of active electronics in outside plant. Also new in a series of Recommendations for the management of network elements in the outside plant is a document detailing the requirements for personal digital assistants (PDAs) as tools for inventory management. Finally, the Recommendation that defines the marking of optical cables used in shallow water , known as marinized terrestrial cables, has been brought up-to-date given the today's more widespread deployment of fibre.