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 Monday, 03 November 2008

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08) drew to a close yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa with decisions on a wide range of issues that will impact the future direction of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry.

ITU members, spanning the global ICT industry and administrations from across the world, asked for increased emphasis on key areas such as ICTs and climate change, the deployment of IPv6, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, conformance and interoperability testing, and encouraging academic participation in ITU’s work.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) said in his closing speech, "We have received a strong message from our members that ITU is, and will remain the world’s pre-eminent global telecommunication and ICT standards body. And we also hear very clearly that ITU should continue on its mission to connect the world, and that bridging the standardization gap — by increasing developing country participation in our work — is an essential prerequisite to achieve this goal."

Delegates at the ten-day meeting in Johannesburg agreed on measures including a restructuring of ITU’s standards work and a revised focus that will serve to strengthen ITU’s position as the world’s premier ICT standards body. Eight new chairmen were elected bringing a fresh outlook to many of ITU’s areas of study. 768 delegates, including 13 Ministers or Vice-Ministers from 99 countries participated.

"The reorganization of the Study Groups was not a simple task," Johnson added. "It has been attempted before but this time we have established a streamlined and efficient structure, avoiding duplication and focusing on our key objectives."

A key agreement encapsulated in a Resolution adopted by the Assembly is that ITU members will work towards reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from the use of ICTs, in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Resolution also recognizes that ICTs can be a major mitigating factor in efforts to moderate climate change and to limit and ultimately reduce GHG emissions across all industry sectors. It also acknowledges that ITU has committed to achieving climate neutrality within three years.

Another Resolution tasks the ITU secretariat with carrying out studies in order to introduce the use of an ITU Mark as a voluntary programme permitting suppliers to make a visible declaration that their products conform to ITU-T Recommendations.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré said, " We have made significant strides in the development of a knowledge-based information society. This World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, which has brought together close to 800 experts from nearly 100 countries, has laid out a road map for the future development of standards that underpin the world’s communications networks. This is a critical input for all stakeholders who join ITU in our commitment to connect the world."

The closing plenary of the Assembly saw Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, Minister of Communications of South Africa switch on South Africa’s digital broadcasting signal, which will be fully implemented in time for the Football World Cup in 2010.

A full report from the Assembly will be made available via its website.

Monday, 03 November 2008 09:29:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 30 October 2008
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Thursday, 30 October 2008 11:45:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 23 October 2008

Geneva, 21 October 2008 — Yesterday, the first-ever Global Standards Symposium closed in Johannesburg, South Africa with broad agreement from industry and standards bodies on the need to take aggressive action to streamline standards work and end confusion and duplication.

Opening the event, ITU standards chief Malcolm Johnson said: “Confusion and duplication cannot serve the purposes of anyone… consumer, manufacturer, service provider, rich or poor country. Clarity, and efficiency must be brought to bear in this – most important of industrial sectors.”

Industry and standards leaders argued that the bewildering array of standards bodies that exists today is costly and inefficient. It is estimated that over 300 ICT standards bodies exist. GSS delegates agreed that keeping track of them was alone a difficult enough task. Better coordination at an international level is needed between industry and standards developing organizations (SDOs) to ensure that standardization needs are met quickly and efficiently. Steps are being planned to establish a direct line of communication between technology leaders and ITU’s standardization arm, to ensure that emerging needs are addressed in the most efficient manner and the most appropriate place. This is ITU’s role, Johnson said, as the world’s pre-eminent ICT standards body.

ITU Secretary General, Dr Hamadoun Touré underlined the importance of standards in times of financial crisis: “Standards are a proven tool in terms of economic development,” he said in his opening speech. “The World Trade Organization (WTO) trade report of 2005 underlines the important benefits that standards can deliver…standards may have a significant effect on limiting the undesirable outcomes of market failure. And, the work of ITU and other bodies in the development of global standards for ICTs and telecoms has helped the smoother, more economical introduction of new technologies.”

Other topics tackled at the Global Standards Symposium in Johannesburg were ICTs and climate change, increasing developing country participation in the standardization process, and accessibility to ICTs for people with disabilities.

Delegates were called on to set an example by committing to specific programs to limit and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to help ensure that the expansion of the global communications network is done in an environmentally friendly manner. The importance of the work of the ITU Focus Group on Climate Change was recognized; in particular the need for a standardized approach to measuring the impact of ICTs on the reduction of GHG emissions.

Bridging the standardization gap is the term ITU uses to describe its efforts to increase developing country participation in the standards making process. Recent efforts by the ITU-T were applauded, for example holding five regional forums in 2008, establishing a voluntary fund to be used for workshops and meetings in developing countries, fellowships, remote participation, surveys and study programmes. It was recognized that the increased involvement of developing countries in standardization work provides an opportunity to better consider their needs in developing new standards and will help to meet the traditional objective of ITU in continuing to ensure global interoperability of communications.

ITU was also applauded for its efforts so far in the arena of accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities and encouraged to continue and increase efforts in producing standards that support the ICT needs of persons with disabilities. Work to develop an on-line toolkit that will serve as a global electronic repository of policies and strategies and as a platform for sharing experiences on best practices on ICT accessibility was announced.

The GSS took place one day before the start of ITU’s World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08) which is a quadrennial event where ITU members decide on the direction of ITU’s standardization work for the next four years. The inaugural GSS gathered Ministers and Ambassadors, senior executives from the private sector and lead officials from other standards bodies. A report from the GSS will be submitted to WTSA-08 and high on its agenda there are likely to be topics such as those discussed at the GSS but also cybersecurity, IPTV, and some Internet related issues. A communiqué will also be issued following WTSA-08.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 13:26:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 03 October 2008

A key conclusion of a recent ITU workshop on IPv6 is that capacity building will be fundamental to progress IPv6 deployment. A report from the workshop is available here.

The workshop, held in Geneva on 4-5 September 2008, brought together key policy makers, standards makers and other industry figures to progress international cooperation on the implementation of IPv6.

“We have noted voices and opinions from the developing world and from the developed world, from academia and research institutes, as well as from industry members,” said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), in a speech to welcome workshop participants. “Often these voices focus on the issue of the management of Internet resources, including IPv6 addresses, and that it may be appropriate to consider systems that avoid some of the problems that have arisen with IPv4 allocations.”

Johnson invited the “IPv6 global community” to engage with ITU on this important topic. “It will be essential in the coming months to address some of the roadblocks that have so far stalled IPv6 implementation,” he said, adding that “ITU has proven and relevant competence as the architect and custodian of the world’s international telephone numbering system, a system which is characterized by stability”. ITU could play an active role in areas such as technical and standardization issues, which will enable the most efficient and effective usage of IPv6. It would also take part in capacity building and technical assistance to help countries in the deployment process and parallel running of IPv4 and IPv6.

Presenters highlighted Asia as home to several pioneering deployments of IPv6. Japan has long been a leader in research on the technology. China is home to the world’s biggest IPv6 infrastructure project, part of the China Next Generation Internet (CNGI) programme covering more than 40 cities nationwide.

The workshop recognized the role of governments in efforts to foster the deployment and usage of IPv6. It was also noted that the transition to IPv6 might be market driven, and that ISPs keen to ensure business continuity will benefit from the migration.

Participants agreed that there is a need to share knowledge, because migration scenarios are not yet completely clear. In this regard, it could be helpful to publicize comparisons between the architecture of IPv4 and IPv6, in order to demonstrate to decision makers the value of a more agile network.

The meeting recommended creating a project within ITU to assist developing countries based on regional needs as identified by the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). This project should include a training component, and should be carried out jointly by the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) and the BDT, taking into consideration the involvement of those partners willing to join and to contribute their expertise.

“The stability of the Internet is paramount. I am sure that the problems experienced so far are surmountable, and I know that ITU has the knowledge, strength and will to assist,” said Johnson.

Friday, 03 October 2008 15:24:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 25 September 2008

A call for abstracts has been issued for ITU, ISO and IEC’s regular event focusing on information and communication technologies (ICT) in motor vehicles.

For the fourth year running The Fully Networked Car is being organized by ITU, ISO and IEC, working together as the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) under the leadership of ITU. Taking place at one of the world’s leading automotive events, the Geneva International Motor Show, the event will take place between 4 and 5 March 2009.

Presentations are sought that bring light to some of the complex questions that the ICT industry and the car industry are faced with. As was the case this year, a major topic will be ICT and climate change. Examples for other topics are standards and spectrum; car-to-x communications; nomadic devices; voice and audiovisual services; advanced driver assistance systems; wireless technologies for car production lines; safety; and security and privacy.

Authors wishing to present papers should submit a half-page abstract, including the title of the paper and the author’s full name, short biography, address, telephone and e-mail, to by Friday, 28 November 2008.

Thursday, 25 September 2008 16:42:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |