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 Tuesday, 27 April 2010
The recent meeting of ITU’s Council saw a report from Malcolm Johnson the Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) on progress made in implementing work on conformity and interoperability testing as requested by Resolution 76 in 2008 (WTSA-08).

In introducing the work Johnson said: “Currently all successful standards development organizations (SDOs) dealing with standards on interoperability have, in addition to the production of paper standards, three additional components: testing specifications; conformance testing to determine compliant products; and interoperability testing amongst various manufacturers’ products implementing the standard(s).

“ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), which is the pre-eminent global telecommunication standards body dealing specifically with global interoperability currently lacks these three additional elements to develop the full range of interoperable standards.

“This prompted a plea for help from developing countries, expressed in WTSA Resolution 76, to redress this problem as an important element of assistance to them in achievement of their desired level of conformity and interoperability nationally and internationally in telecommunications.

“Successful implementation of this programme is therefore crucially important to ITU-T maintaining its status as the pre-eminent global standards development organization in the face of increasing competition from other SDOs, forums and consortia.

“Defining more interfaces where interoperability can be tested increases competition and reduces the chances of being locked in to a single product.”

Johnson went on to define various actions, starting with a pilot version of a conformity database which is under development in line with a proposal put to Council-09 and taking account of advice provided by the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) and ITU-T’s Joint Coordination Activity on Conformance and Interoperability Testing (JCA-CIT). He said that the database would only record information provided by companies on conformity of their products to ITU-T Recommendations. Companies input the data into the database themselves. Following the advice of TSAG, access to the database is password protected (TIES) during the development phase.

The second action detailed by Johnson is the establishment of a calendar of “informal” interoperability events, some in partnership with interested SDOs/forums/consortia. The first such interoperability event is to take place on 20-23 July 2010, in Geneva to test ITU-T’s standards for IPTV.

The third action, Johnson said will be the implementation of human resources capacity building events. He said that ITU-T’s secretariat, the TSB and the secretariat of ITU-D, the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) are preparing a programme of such events. Events are planned for  Quito (Ecuador) and Nairobi (Kenya). Both Bureaux, he added, looked forward to receiving advice in this regard from the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10), to be held in Hyderabad, India, from 24 May to 4 June 2010.

TSB and BDT are also working together to assist in the establishment of test facilities in developing countries. Discussions with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have already begun and a pilot project has been conducted in Tanzania.

TSB has begun work on the framework of a business plan for the long term implementation of the actions and which will provide the environmental background; the pros and cons of acting on Resolution 76; a road map for the implementation of the actions; a budget; legal aspects; study group actions; and partnerships for taking the work forward.
Following various questions and comments from the floor Johnson emphasized that Resolution 76 addresses both conformity and interoperability. Conformity does not imply interoperability, he said, but the chances of interoperability are definitely higher if equipment has been shown to conform to a standard.

The demand for a conformity database was simple he said: people want a database on the ITU website where they can see what products had been successfully tested to ITU-T Recommendations. To ensure the credibility of the database, tests will be carried out in an accredited laboratory: first, second or third party; or be accepted by an accredited certification body. Companies will voluntarily input the data directly into the database, but the information will only be made publicly available after TSB has received a supplier’s declaration.

Johnson emphasized that TSB is committed to working in consultation with all members and in collaboration with other SDOs, forums and consortia. For example, just within the last couple of weeks TSB had visited ATIS, TIA, ITI and several Sector Members in the USA to discuss Resolution 76. TSB had also visited the Interoperability Testing Lab of the University of New Hampshire, a not-for profit organization that has a formidable reputation in the testing field and which has been invited to the ITU-T Study Group 15 meeting in June.

Johnson concluded by confirming that TSB is committed to consulting and collaborating with all ITU-T membership to ensure the successful implementation of Resolution 76. It is a long and winding road but there is no turning back, he said. The Director of BDT, Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, also expressed appreciation for the positive tone in the Council on this subject and emphasized that TSB and BDT are working closely together on this issue.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010 09:53:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 26 April 2010

The International signalling point codes (ISPCs) and signalling area/network codes (SANCs) that facilitate all telephone calls are now available to members in an online database.

Previously up-to-date information was only available to subscribers to ITU-T’s freely available Operational Bulletin.

The database provides easier access to the information and also presents it in a machine-readable form.

An ISPC is used in association with signaling system seven (SS7), and acts in a similar way to an IP address in an IP network. It is a unique address for a node to identify the destination of a message.

The action was taken following a request by ITU-T Study Group 11.

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Monday, 26 April 2010 07:52:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 22 April 2010
April’s meeting of ITU-T’s cybersecurity group (SG 17) saw a presentation on progress on the six months of work on the Cybersecurity Information Exchange Framework (CYBEX).

CYBEX imports more than twenty best of breed standards for platforms developed over the past several years by government agencies and industry to enhance cybersecurity.  These platforms capture and exchange information about the security "state" of systems and devices, about vulnerabilities, about incidents such as cyber attacks, and related knowledge "heuristics." The Framework pulls these platforms together in a coherent way to provide for 1) “locking down” on-line systems to minimize vulnerabilities, 2) capturing incident information for analysis when network harmful incidents occur, and 3) facilitating evidence for enforcement action if necessary.

The presentation noted a close collaborative relationship with the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) - a global organization for coordination and cooperation among Computer Emergency Response Teams.  

A wiki-based initial compilation of discovered CIRTs and related agencies and bodies to the SG17 website at:

See previous newslog entry for more information on CYBEX.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010 15:16:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
ITU-T’s Study Group 17 will hold a workshop Addressing security challenges on a global scale in Geneva, 6 (afternoon)-7 December 2010.  The event will focus on how ITU and other standards developing organizations (SDOs) address the main challenges of information and communication security.

A call for abstracts with a deadline for 15 June 2010 has been issued with suggested topics including:
•    Emerging applications of PKI
•    Collaboration for ICT security standardization
•    Developing countries challenges
•    Cloud computing: Threat or opportunity
•    The cloud in the telecom space
•    Identity in the cloud
•    Smart grid security
•    Assurance, making cybersecurity measurable
•    Identity management (IdM)
•    CIRTs, sharing of information
•    Security awareness
•    IPv6 Security
•    Telebiometrics standardization
•    Meeting regulatory obligations
The workshop is also expected to provide a good opportunity to overview new areas of security studies including Smart Grid and Cloud Computing.

SG 17 aims to hold a similar workshop on annual basis from now on.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010 15:13:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The recent meeting of ITU-T’s, Study Group 17, saw record attendance with a much increased number of delegates from developing countries. The group’s work programme contains more than sixty work items on topics as diverse as identity management (IdM), IPTV security, object identifiers (OID), formal languages and cybersecurity.

Among the work areas that achieved significant progress at the April meeting were directory services, IdM, and IPTV security.

The heavily deployed directory assistance protocol Recommendation ITU-T E.115 was revised at this meeting. E.115 is used for directory assistance information exchange among service providers. E.115 also gives a description of the principles and procedures to be followed in interconnecting different national computerized directory assistance services.

A key standard (ITU-T Recommendation) on IdM was approved. The Baseline IdM Terms and Definitions is considered one of the basic texts for IdM and provides a solid basis for ensuring interoperability between various emerging IdM solutions.

Other work in the IdM field continues apace with new work items proposed on an open identity trust framework; discovery of identity management information; baseline capabilities and mechanisms of identity management for mobile applications and environment and an identity management roadmap.

Also in the field, EVCert, an important tool in the fight against spam is considered likely for first stage approval (consent/determination) at the next meeting of SG 17. EVCert is a product of the CA Browser Forum and is a digital certificate based specification combined with an array of processes and protocols for significantly enhanced organization/provider trust and related transport layer encryption. Approval as an ITU standard (ITU-T Recommendation) will push EVCert forward as the principal global specification for organization/provider trust. EVcert enables special features in web browsers or other compliant programs.

In IPTV security, work progressed in several areas including a key management framework for secure IPTV services; an algorithm selection scheme for service and content protection (SCP) descrambling and a service and content protection (SCP) interoperability scheme.
New work is considered in several new areas:
•    Work will start to develop a new standard outlining the basic rules necessary to build national revenue assurance protection systems. The proposal to start the work notes that last year fraud in telecommunication networks decreased revenue of telecommunication companies by 12-15 per cent.
•    A new work item on reducing spam in mobile networks focusing on SMS/MMS was proposed and agreed.
•    In the area of cloud computing work will progress in two new areas. Firstly the collection of security requirements and a proposed framework outlining the cloud based telecom environment. In addition security guidelines for cloud computing will be developed to help service providers deploy cloud computing.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010 15:06:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 16 April 2010

The United Nations magazine "UN Special" ran two articles in its April 2010 issue on the recent ITU/WIPO workshop on how to improve the accessibility on the web.

See also the ITU-T Newslog report here.

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Friday, 16 April 2010 13:42:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 29 March 2010
The*1 concluded in Geneva, March 4 with participants calling for better cross-sector standards collaboration in order to facilitate the rollout of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau: “There is a will from manufacturers to implement these technologies but thus far no real breakthrough in terms of standards needed to roll this out on a global scale. Global car manufacturers don’t want to create different versions of this technology for every different market. They don’t want regional or national standards, they want global standards and ITU and its World Standards Cooperation (WSC) partners ISO and IEC are willing and able to provide these for this global partnership.”

New services and applications may be the selling points that will win car makers an advantage in the depressed market. “Today's communication capabilities give cars the potential to foresee and avoid collisions, navigate the quickest route to their destination, make use of up-to-the-minute traffic reports, identify the nearest available parking slot, alert the emergency services, monitor air pollution, minimize carbon emissions, and provide multimedia communications,” said Johnson.

The involvement  of ITU, ISO and IEC is seen as critical to ease bottlenecks resulting – in part – from poor communication between overlapping sectors; automotive, ITS players,  telecoms suppliers and operators. One conclusion of an Executive Session was that competition between standards bodies was unwelcome.

A large amount of resources has been invested in research and development, but harmonization of the many standards that exist at a proprietary or regional level is missing. This lack of global standards is considered to be an impediment  to a large scale deployment of ITS services and applications. While most agree that the technologies are at an advanced stage of development, participants agreed that clearer views are needed on what standardization work is being done and where; user, regulator and supplier liability and privacy concerns; business and payment models; interoperability requirements and who owns them.

This – the fifth - Fully Networked Car workshop organized by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), a partnership between ISO, IEC and ITU, was held on 3-4 March at the Geneva International Motor Show 2010 and focused on the latest developments in ITS technology including network requirements for electric cars. It represented a unique  opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) key players, in particular with the motor industry.

Held during the 2nd Press Day and the first public day of the motor show, the event – attracting over 120 participants in 2010 - represents a matchless opportunity for experts and executives from the car industry, ICT community, governments, research and development institutes, academia to share their vision and strategies.

Speakers at a special Executive Session at the Fully Networked Car event included Christoph Huss, Vice President of BMW and President of the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA), who gave the keynote address; Juhani Jääskeläinen, European Commission; Raymond Resendes, Chief, Intelligent Technologies Research Division, United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Samuel Loyson, Orange, France; David Schutt, SAE International, USA; Yasuro Nakanomori, OKI, Japan; Russ Shields, Chairman, Ygomi and Reinhard Scholl, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

In his opening remarks, Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General, on behalf of WSC, said: "There is the need for standardization of essential technologies to provide the solid base for further innovation and the economies of scale for commercialization of technologies... Most interestingly of all, is the urgent need to consider the interoperability of all of this technology not only in the car, but in the wider infrastructure that is needed to support this revolution".

Information obtained from electronic devices as part of an in-vehicle network is critical to ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) services and applications, including emergency telecommunications. Currently, the way of extracting the vehicle information differs by manufacture, model and chassis type. Standards are being researched in the support of a Vehicle Gateway that will allow all consumer devices to work in harmony in all vehicles and with all infrastructures. Work on this in ITU is focused on a ‘Question’ within ITU-T’s Study Group 16. Contributions from ITU’s membership are being sought on a Vehicle Gateway platform for telecommunication/ITS services/applications.

Since ITS applications will have to rely mainly on existing infrastructure, NGN (Next Generation Networks) will play a key role for their deployment. This is currently considered in the framework of fix-mobile-convergence in ITU-T Study Group 13, ITU-T’s lead group lead on future networks. One of the sessions of the workshop recommended that a joint ISO / ITU-T group on in-vehicle architecture and protocols take the work forward.

Participants in one technical session at the workshop concluded that quality and naturalness of all speech services need to be increased to reduce driver distraction and seamless interaction. Agreement was reached that work on a standards-based framework for dialogue between user and device is needed, with the ITU-T Focus Group on Car Communications (ITU-T FG CarCOM) identified as the appropriate place for this work.

An electric future

Today, with the increasing deployment of electric vehicles, ICTs have a significant role to play in areas such as the careful management of battery status, warranty concerns and driver behaviour. Given the potential of these new technologies for both the automotive and the ICTs industries, it is essential for the different parties to understand the requirements for fully networked cars and agree on the solutions to be provided by the network platforms. In many cases existing telecoms infrastructure can be used.

As electric vehicles begin to find their way to our driveways and garages, knowing what is involved in charging their batteries becomes crucial. The development of smart power grids will also be vital to support the adoption of electric cars which according to some proposals can also act as storage capacity for electricity. The scale of this challenge was highlighted in one of the presentations to the workshop, citing work under way in the United States.

In the US, the electric grid is owned and operated by over 3100 utilities, using equipment and systems provided by thousands of suppliers, delivering power to hundreds of millions of users and billions of end devices. The transformation of this infrastructure into an “energy Internet” is a huge undertaking requiring an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination across the private and public sectors as well as across industry sectors. A robust, interoperable framework of technical standards is the key to making this possible.

ITU is responding to this challenge by the formation of a new ITU-T Focus Group that will help develop the necessary global standards to hasten this move to Smart Grids. The newly formed group will look at the networking between use of current control, metering, charging and electricity distribution systems.
1 New title for the event following agreement of Geneva Motor Show to support the event for next three years

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Monday, 29 March 2010 08:51:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |