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Question 12/16 – Advanced multimedia system for NGN and other packet-based networks
(Continuation of Question 12/16)


As the lead Study Group on multimedia terminals, systems, and applications, SG 16 strives to make advances in multimedia communication systems that take advantage of emerging technologies, as well as advances in and deeper understanding of existing technologies, in an effort to enable new and better forms of communication capabilities (ubiquitous services and applications e.g. any devices, any time and anywhere) for end users.

ITU-T has a long history of delivering successful multimedia systems that have enriched everyone’s lives. One of the most widely deployed and successful videoconferencing systems produced by the ITU is H.320. It is recognized by ITU-T SG 16 as a first generation system and took advantage of the then newly-developed ISDN. In the mid-1990s, the ITU began work on H.323, which essentially leveraged the knowledge gained through the development of H.320 and applied that knowledge to packet-switched networks, including LANs, WANs, and the Internet. H.323 quickly became the dominant protocol for LAN-based videoconferencing, as well as a protocol used for transporting voice calls around the world. H.323 was developed in parallel with the IETF’s Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and was effective in facilitating a migration from circuit-switched networks to packet-switched networks. Sharing similar capabilities and similar design philosophies and being produced in the same time period, H.323 and SIP are classified as second generation systems.

Now, more than 12 years since the introduction of second generation systems, ITU-T SG 16 is again looking toward the future of multimedia systems as the ITU-T also undertakes a study to introduce the Next Generation Network (NGN). NGN holds the promise of revolutionizing communication as we know it and multimedia will be an important part of any new network technology.

By building on the knowledge gained through the development of voice and video technologies that were the core part of H.320 and H.323, as well as the data conferencing technologies introduced in the T.120-series standards, ITU-T SG 16 aims to introduce a third-generation system that truly enables users to utilize multiple modes of communication such as audio, video or electronic whiteboard.

Further, it is expected that through the use of technologies developed as a part of this study, the effects on climate change may be reduced by enabling improved forms of communication that may be used as an alternative to travel.

Study items

The work on the third generation multimedia system will entail the creation of multiple new ITU-T Recommendations that will specify system architecture, system components, and one or more protocols at the service and application layer. The primary objective is to deliver a new advanced multimedia system (AMS) that operates on NGN, taking advantage of its features, and will also operate on non-NGN packet-switched networks.

This Question will examine technologies such as various IP technologies, wireless technologies, inclusive designs, and distributed computing capabilities in order to realize a system that will enable users, including persons with disabilities, to communicate using, as examples, voice and audio, video, electronic whiteboard, application sharing, real-time text, and file transfer across one or more communicating devices (e.g. smart phones, TV set-top boxes, game consoles, handheld game/entertainment machines, digital cameras, Internet “appliances” and networked robots). Unlike previous generation systems, this new system will enable independent application developers to create system components that are able to seamlessly interface with the system in order to deliver any one or more of the aforementioned modes of communication. There is a strong desire to move away from the “monolithic applications” that were distinctive of second generation systems, to a system that enables components to “plug in” to the system, either locally or remotely using various wired or wireless technologies, to deliver an enhanced user experience. To meet that objective, this Question will study the various interfaces between these components and the technologies that might be used to tie them together.

The study includes among others:

  • Downloadable codecs
  • System decomposition
  • Discovery of services
  • Support for transcoding functionality (e.g. text to speech)
  • Dynamic device discovery
  • Application plug-in
  • Consideration of various business models
  • Integrated QoS, security and mobility functionality
  • NAT and firewall traversal procedures
  • Considerations on how to help measure and mitigate climate change


Tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Identification of additional requirements
  • Basic architecture (until Q1/2009)
  • Complete system specification (depends on progress)

An up-to-date status of work under this Question is found in the SG 16 work programme (




  • F.750, G.710-G.720-series, H.320-series, H.360-series, H.450.x series, H.460.x series


  • All SG 16 Questions, especially systems, applications and audio/video coding Questions

Study Groups:

  • ITU-T SGs 2, 11, 12, 13 and 17

Other Bodies:

  • 3GPP, 3GPP2
  • IETF
  • W3C
  • IMTC for interoperability aspects


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Updated : 2008-12-05