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 Welcome Address: 3rd Sintesio NGN Symposium Next Generation Multimedia
 Bled, Slovenia  14 - 15 May 2007 
Good morning ladies and gentlemen

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to welcome you here today. I would like to congratulate the organizers for putting together such an interesting programme on a subject of such high importance to the industry, in such a beautiful location. I am sure you will find it rewarding.

As you may know the ITU’s IPTV Focus Group had the good fortune to meet here in Bled last week, and so I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the hosts: ISKRATEL, Telekom Slovenije, the Slovenian Institute for Standardization (SIST), Tehnološka mreža IKT, and SINTESIO.

I am pleased to say the Focus Group meeting was a great success. With strong participation from around the world, and thanks to such a lovely working environment, the work on international standards for IPTV made very good progress. Later on in the programme the Chairman of the Focus Group, Ghassem Koleyni, will provide you with an overview of the work on IPTV. However I would like to point out that ITU focus groups allow the participation of any interested party, free of charge, whether they are members of ITU or not. The focus groups decide themselves how they will work – often adopting very open and flexible methods such as wikis. Their purpose is to initiate studies on new topics, and develop the momentum and critical mass to take the work forward in the formal ITU study groups which approve the ITU standards (known as ITU-T Recommendations). There are a number of Focus Groups currently active within ITU, in addition to the one on IPTV, and I would encourage you to refer to the ITU website to see the list and take part in our work. I am sure you would find it very rewarding.

As many of you here may not be familiar with ITU I will take this opportunity to give you a brief overview of our work, especially on NGN.

ITU is in fact the oldest intergovernmental organization, having been formed on 17 May 1865. In recognition of this, the UN named the 17 May “World Information Society Day”, and it will be marked this week by events around the world. Booz Allen Hamilton has awarded ITU the accolade of being one of the world’s top ten most enduring institutions. ITU was honored for its effective information flow as well as the ability to reinvent itself time and again while remaining market leader in this most dynamic of fields. We are proud that ITU is recognized in this way. For any organization to have been as influential as ITU has been over 140 years is an impressive achievement. And ITU has been in the business of developing standards during all of that time.

Today’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have a solid foundation of ITU standards that we often take for granted. If it was not for ITU standards it would be impossible to call from one country to another or even from one telecommunication network to another. Global standards have succeeded in ensuring interoperability in telecoms networks and enabling many new innovative services, while allowing service providers to keep costs down and customers happy. Members of ITU’s standardization sector - ITU-T – are the producers of many of these standards and can claim to be key architects of the world’s telecommunication network. Currently, more than 3100 ITU-T standards are in force, and we add over 200 new or revised standards each year.

ITU is different from other standards development bodies in many respects, but one especially – it has 191 countries represented by government ministries and regulators (known as Member States) that work alongside the 640 or more private sector entities (known as Sector Members). ITU is therefore one of the few truly international standards bodies dealing with ICTs, and the only UN body. The inclusion of both Member States and Sector Members in the work of ITU ensures it has an effective and key role to play in international ICT standardization.

The active participation of the private sector means that we have a deep understanding of the crucial balance between the rapid delivery of standards and the stability necessary to allow investment in their implementation. Over the last decade, ITU has dramatically overhauled its standards-making process, streamlining procedures and cutting approval time. This means that the average time to approve an ITU standard is now as little as nine weeks - faster than any other comparable organization.

Topics currently under study in ITU cover a wide range of issues from network and cyber security, numbering, routing and global mobility, telecommunication management, multimedia, optical networking technologies and IP interworking.

The name next generation network (NGN) was defined by ITU and NGN is a major part of its standardization activity. Work on NGN in ITU started using a Focus Group in June 2004. The Focus Group was very successful completing its work within 18 months having received more than 1200 contributions from over 1400 participants. The work was then taken forward within the formal study groups of ITU.

Given the breadth of work related to NGN in ITU, one Study Group, SG 13, coordinates the work across seven other study groups under the banner of the NGN Global Standards Initiative (NGN-GSI). The group will aim to see that standards are developed in the most appropriate place and that no duplication of effort occurs. In fact, the scope of the work is being continually expanded to include new developments, for example, IPTV and RFID.

Multimedia applications and services, currently provided and supported by multiple specific network-centric architectures, are migrating towards a single converged user-centric communications network. The ubiquitous network represents one of the key challenges for NGN standardization. This migration or evolution has been recognized in ITU and a number of initiatives have started for the development of global standards in specific areas like IPTV, GRID, networked aspects of identification (including RFID aspects), sensor networks and more. The aim of NGN is to provide the necessary service capabilities to support present and future multimedia applications and services, taking into account the potential for further development of new services.

The ubiquitous network that will seamlessly connect anyone, anytime, anywhere, by any means, requires global standards, and ITU must deliver these in a timely manner. ITU must ensure security, interoperability and interconnectivity, worldwide. It being an intergovernmental body ensures that it is non-discriminatory and transparent. Our patent policy ensures that any patents embedded in ITU standards will be made available on non-discriminatory, fair and reasonable terms. ITU must also ensure that consumers, enterprises, service providers, government and civil society all benefit from its standards. We co-operate with regional standards organisations as well as with other standards development bodies, to ensure that the different requirements of each local market are met, and wherever appropriate, ITU will reference the outputs of other standards bodies rather than duplicate their work. Good cooperation and collaboration is therefore essential between ITU and these other bodies, and in fact we have cooperation agreements in place with over 70 standards bodies, such as ETSI in Europe, as well as various fora and consortia. One example related to NGN is the agreement with 3GPP which is working on the development of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core for NGN. ITU will submit to 3GPP its requirements for IMS, and 3GPP will feed back to ITU its developing standards for comment, with the objective of them eventually being incorporated in the series of ITU standards on NGN.

Regulatory issues will also be important as we move towards NGN. With the convergence of services, companies that used to be in separate industries: telephone operators; Internet-service providers; and cable-TV firms etc. are now all competing for the same business. Most countries have separate regulators for telecommunications, spectrum, broadcasting, and content. Different rules apply to each, but as the distinction between them starts to blur this will have to be addressed, and we will see the emergence of more fully converged regulators.

So in conclusion, ITU global standards can avoid costly market battles over alternate technologies. For companies from emerging markets, they create a level playing field which provides low-cost, assured access to new markets. For manufacturers, they facilitate access to global markets and allow for economies of scale in production and distribution, safe in the knowledge that ITU-compliant systems will work anywhere in the world; for purchasers, from telcos to multinational companies to ordinary consumers, they provide assurances that equipment will integrate effortlessly with other installed systems. They are an essential aid to developing countries in building their infrastructure and encouraging economic development.

ITU places great emphasis on the need to involve and assist developing countries in standardization development and implementation. We call this “bridging the standardization gap”. We are holding a number of regional events on this theme and it will be the main focus of the “Global Standards Symposium” which will precede next year’s World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly.

Before closing I would just like to mention that ITU also has a programme of workshops. These workshops have long been a popular way of progressing existing work areas and exploring new ones. These free-of-charge events augment the work of the study groups by proposing new topics and seeking the views of non-members and other standards developers. ITU will host a workshop on Multimedia in NGN in Geneva during 10-11 September 2007, and I invite you all to attend. Details are available on the ITU website.

I will not take any more of your time, you have an excellent selection of speakers to look forward to and I wish you all a very productive, informative and enjoyable workshop.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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