ITU

Committed to connecting the world

Issue No 57 - June 2013

 
New ITU-T work to give end-users the tools to test Internet access speed
ITU experts are discussing ways to meet user and operator demand for a standardized methodology for measuring Internet access speeds. The establishment of such a framework would inspire greater consumer confidence in advertised speeds and ensure that accurate comparisons can be made between offerings from different operators.
The experts meeting under the auspices of the ITU-T Joint Coordination Activity on Conformance and Interoperability Testing (JCA-CIT) are discussing how end-to-end testing can be facilitated via remote access to world-class testing facilities.
A meeting of JCA-CIT, 25 April 2013, analyzed the proposal of an independent speed-testing methodology from a variety of perspectives; taking presentations from a national regulator, a national testing laboratory and a manufacturer of testing equipment.
Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) presented its study evaluating the status quo of received Internet access speed as compared to advertised or contracted broadband speeds. The ultimate goal of Germany’s research in this field is to produce fundamental considerations for the development of a quality-measurement methodology accessible to end-users. The study attempts to gain an informed basis on various QoS aspects with regard to Article 20 (Contracts) and Article 22 (Quality of Service) of the “Universal Service Directive” of the European Union, Directive 2002/22/EC on “universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services”.
The testing laboratory of the Central Research Telecommunication Institute (ZNIIS, Russia) presented its implementation plan for the joint ITU-ZNIIS project to establish a ‘virtual laboratory’ granting developing countries remote access to cutting-edge tools for the assessment of network performance, Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE).
A central goal in the ITU-ZNIIS project is the development of a framework for the remote testing of fixed and mobile Internet access speeds. This goal is the subject of a contribution made by the Russian Federation to ITU-T Study Group 11 which proposes a new work item focused on standardizing the framework and protocols needed to enable the testing of end-to-end Internet access speed. The proposal advocates for the independent estimation of the quality of end-user access to the Internet and the interconnection speeds between carrier networks, thereby offering means to aid operators in drafting service-level agreements (SLAs) with their customers and other operators.
The presentations from the Federal Network Agency of Germany and ZNIIS were supported by a manufacturer’s perspective in the form of a presentation on QoS/QoE assessment from a maker of telecom testing equipment, Arcatech (UK).
JCA-CIT enters the 2013-2016 study period with a strengthened mandate, assisting ITU-T Study Group 11 (Protocols and test specifications) in coordinating the implementation of the ITU Conformity and Interoperability (C&I) programme.
Read the report from the most recent meeting of JCA-CIT here (TIES restricted)
More information on the implementation of the ITU C&I Programme is available in the C&I Portal.
 
Latest Technology Watch report: The Mobile Money Revolution
The latest ITU-T Technology Watch report charts the rise of mobile money, illustrating the importance of global standards in supporting recent advances in mobile payments enabled by near field communication (NFC) and in fortifying mobile money’s inroads into enhancing financial inclusion in developing countries.
Just 15 years ago the mobile phone was used almost exclusively to make calls, send texts and play simple games. Mobile phones today access the Internet, make video calls, take photos, find your location on a map, purchase tickets for public transport, and provide electronic banking services. Innovation in financial services, mobile technology and NFC continues to expand these applications and our ever-present mobile devices are fast evolving into substitutes for wallets and bank accounts, transforming the way we transfer money and pay for goods and services.
The report is published in two parts, the first focused on NFC-enabled mobile payments and the second on mobile money’s game-changing impacts in developing countries. Read or download the full report here.
Part 1 analyses innovations in ‘tap and go’ NFC mobile payments and their likely impact on future standardization activities. A mobile device’s electronic account or “mobile wallet” serves to replace deposit accounts, credit accounts, loyalty accounts, merchant accounts, gift cards and coupons. In developed countries the mobile wallet is also playing a role as a container for different currencies and bank accounts.
Part 2 considers the innovations driving mobile money transfer apps in developing countries. Globally, more than 2.5 billion adults do not have access to a formal bank account and mobile money is thus seen as a crucial means through which to tackle the low levels of financial inclusion that continue to pose a barrier to socio-economic development in emerging economies. In keeping with mobile money’s importance in the transfer of money between migrant labourers and their dependents, the report also reviews the technical standards working behind the scenes to ensure the security of mobile money transfer services. 
 
Calling all smart sustainable city enthusiasts...
To face the challenge of this growing population and meet the rising demand of resources and services, cities need to move towards a path of sustainable growth and development, while remaining respectful of the environment. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be the driver for such solutions.
And here is where you come in...
Now in its third year, ITU and Telefónica are delighted to again present their Green ICT Application Challenge, inviting developers to submit the best and most innovative Concept Paper for an ICT application to help build Smart Sustainable Cities and achieve environmental sustainability in urban areas.
Ideas for topic areas are:
· Energy management
· Water management and sanitation
· Waste management
· Transport and mobility
· Urban planning, including smart buildings
· Adaptation to climate change
· Smart societies, community engagement and environmental education
The challenge is open to individuals from ITU Member States, and the author of the best and most innovative Concept Paper for an ICT Application will be awarded a 5,000 USD cash prize in Madrid, Spain on 18 September 2013 during the 3rd ITU Green Standards Week.
But hurry… submission ends on 30 June 2013 at 12:00 PM CET.
For more information please click here
Learn more about ITU-T’s work on ICTs, the environment and climate change here.
 
European Commission backs ITU eco-impact methodologies
The ITU-T L.1410 and L.1420 Recommendations to assess the environmental impacts of ICTs are among 10 international methodologies to have been pilot-tested in Europe’s bid to establish and converge around a common international framework to assess the energy and emission footprint of the ICT sector.
Recommendation ITU-T L.1410 “Methodology for environmental impacts of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) goods, networks and services” provides a standardized way to assess the direct environmental impact of ICT goods, networks and services, as well as their indirect impact on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of non-ICT industry sectors. It is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology standardized in ISO 14040 and ISO 14044.
ITU-T L. 1420 “Methodology for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions impact assessment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in organizations” standardizes the requirements with which an organization should comply when assessing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is based on ISO 14064-1.
In a study led by the European Commission, 27 leading ICT companies and associations engaged in a 10-month trial of measurement methodologies developed by entities including international standards development organizations (SDOs) such as ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), ISO, IEC, ETSI and the GHG Protocol.
The study was commissioned by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT as part of its ICT Footprint initiative which aims to test the workability and compatibility of ‘footprinting’ methodologies in the ICT sector, with the overarching goal of building consensus and engendering convergence around a “common methodological framework for the measurement of the energy consumption and carbon emissions arising from the production, transport and selling processes of ICT goods, networks and services.”
 
New standards to monitor quality of IP-based audiovisual streaming
ITU members have approved a new set of algorithmic models to monitor the quality of streamed audiovisual media. The model algorithms set out in the new ITU-T P.1200 series provide objective models for non-intrusive monitoring of the quality of User Datagram Protocol (UDP)-based video services, addressing both lower and higher resolution applications such as mobile TV and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV).
A major challenge in the management of IP-based networks is the provision of adequate Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) for new multimedia services and applications such as IPTV, 3D video, and Internet media including over-the-top (OTT) video.
ITU-T Study Group 12 (Performance, QoS and QoE) is the expert group responsible for the ITU-T P.1200 series which offers tools to assess video quality in a scalable manner; proposing quality estimation models which operate by analysing packet-header and bitstream information as available from respective packet-trace data.
The ITU-T P.1200 models are ‘no-reference’ or ‘non-intrusive’ in that their primary quality prediction does not require prior knowledge of the audiovisual stream being transported, being based solely on information as it is available on the network or inside terminals.
Recommendation ITU-T P.1201 “Parametric non-intrusive assessment of audiovisual media streaming quality” provides an overview of algorithmic models for non-intrusive monitoring of the audio, video and audiovisual quality of IP-based video services based on packet-header information. ITU-T P.1201.1 and ITU-T P.1201.2 specify model algorithms for lower and higher resolution application areas, respectively.
Recommendation ITU-T P.1202 “Parametric non-intrusive bitstream assessment of video media streaming quality” complements ITU-T P.1201 with an overview of bitstream-based algorithmic models for non-intrusive monitoring of video quality based on packet-header and bitstream information. ITU-T P.1202.1 and ITU-T P.1202.2 specify model algorithms for lower and higher resolution application areas, respectively.
 
Upcoming workshop on intelligent transport systems in emerging markets
A free of charge workshop titled, “Intelligent transport systems in emerging markets – drivers for safe and sustainable growth,” will be held at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, 27 June 2013, to discuss recent advances in intelligent transport systems (ITS) with emphasis on improving road safety in developing countries.
The workshop is jointly organized by ITU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and will draw a number of its participants from attendees of a meeting of UNECE’s Working Party 29 on Vehicle Regulations taking place in the Palais des Nations that same week.
The upcoming workshop will gather industry executives, policy makers, regulators and standardization experts from the automotive and ICT sectors to review movements in the ITS space in respect of its underlying technologies and applications as well as its emerging regulatory frameworks and standards. The event will discuss barriers to ITS adoption, explore how current obstacles might be overcome and focus on the benefits that ITS will afford emerging economies in improving road safety.
The event will be held during the eighth meeting of the Collaboration on ITS Communication Standards being held on 26 and 28 June 2013 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva. The Collaboration is providing a global forum for the creation of an internationally harmonized set of ITS communication standards to enable the deployment of fully interoperable ITS products and services in the global marketplace. The group expects that a first ‘release’ of ITS communication standards will be up for approval as ITU-T and ITU-R Recommendations in early 2015.
The ITU-UNECE workshop is the latest in a series of 2013 milestones in ITU’s work to improve the relationship between ICTs and road safety.
The Focus Group on Driver Distraction concluded its work in March 2013, producing five technical reports being taken up by the two groups leading ITU-T’s standardization work on driver distraction, ITU-T Study Group 12 (Performance, QoS and QoE) and Study Group 16 (Multimedia coding, systems and applications). News on the technical reports can be found here.
In addition, “ICTs and improving road safety” was the theme of the 2013 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) celebrated at ITU Headquarters in Geneva on 17 May.
 
South Africa joins the ITU IPv6 IPTV Global Testbed
The ITU IPv6 IPTV Global Testbed has undergone a significant expansion with the connection of South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
CSIR's Meraka Institute is the country’s leading national ICT research institute and the main hub of SANReN (South African National Research Network), a large-scale government project that provides network connectivity between organizations specialized in higher education and research.
The international ITU IPv6 IPTV Global Testbed was established by ITU-T in collaboration with Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Hokkaido Television Broadcasting (HTB) and OKI. The backbone to this international IPTV experiment is established through extended connectivity between SANReN and NICT’s IPv6 research network, JGN-X (Japan Gigabit Network-eXtreme).
Core ITU standards underpinning the experiment include Recommendation ITU-T H.721’s IPTV terminal for Video on Demand (VoD) and Linear TV, ITU-T H.762’s Lightweight Interactive Multimedia Environment (LIME) for interactive IPTV services, and ITU-T H.264’s video encoding. High-definition IPTV content encoded in H.264 is being delivered over IPv6 between CSIR and other testbed locations, interactively controlled by H.762 on H.721-compliant terminals.
The news marks the first-ever IPTV testbed in Africa. Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, will be the next location to join the project with preparations already underway between ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) and Rwanda’s proposed host of the testbed.
The ongoing expansion of ITU’s Global Testbed capitalizes on the success of a series of transcontinental IPTV experiments held over the past two years. For the second year running, ITU-standardized IPTV technologies were deployed in an international IPTV experiment held in conjunction with the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, 5-11 February 2013. Run over ITU’s IPTV IPv6 Global Testbed, the experiment was successful in its ambitious attempt to employ ten software-defined networks (SDNs) simultaneously.
IPTV services were used to live-stream scenes from Sapporo and to provide supporting Video on Demand (VoD) segments, accompanied by integrated social media tools and a remotely-provided captioning service. A particularly notable achievement was the use of RISE (Research Infrastructure for large-Scale network Experiments), a next-generation Internet based on OpenFlow, to deliver IPTV content to Singapore where IPv4 and IPv6 were combined virtually (Read the full story on the Sapporo experiment in an earlier newslog article here).
For more on ITU-T’s work on IPTV, please see ITU’s IPTV Global Standards Initiative.
 
ITU-T H.265 now available for download
The highly-anticipated video coding standard, ITU-T H.265 ‘High Efficiency Video Coding’ (HEVC), is now available free of charge on the ITU website here.
Recommendation ITU-T H.265 is a technically-aligned twin text with International Standard ISO/IEC 23008-2. The standard was developed within the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC), a mechanism underscoring the longstanding collaboration of the ITU Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).ITU-T H.265 will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor, ITU-T H.264 | MPEG-4 Part 10 ‘Advanced Video Coding’ (AVC), which remains the most deployed video compression standard worldwide. The new standard is designed to take account of advancing screen resolutions and is expected to be phased in as high-end products and services outgrow the limits of current network and display technology.
The development of ITU-T H.265 was led by ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) and the standard was approved by ITU members on 13 April 2013 (detailed in a press release here).
April also saw the approval of the latest edition of HEVC's predecessor, ITU-T H.264. Ten years old this year, ITU-T H.264 is now in its eighth edition and is available free of charge on the ITU website here. The latest edition contains an additional profile for multiview video coding with depth information (the Multiview and Depth profile) as well as additional colourimetry identifiers and improvements to supplemental enhancement information (SEI) messages.
 
TSAG delivers new focus group on smart water management
The recent meeting of the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) has seen the launch of a new Focus Group to hasten standards development in the key area of Smart Water Management.
The formation of the Focus Group on Smart Water Management (FG-SWM) responds to the Luxor Call to Action emanating from a workshop held in Luxor, Egypt, 14-15 April 2013.
The event highlighted the necessity of a multi-stakeholder approach to the development of ‘smart’ water-management systems; one that incorporates the views of irrigation, agriculture, environment and communications ministries as well as those of the ICT industry and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
FG-SWM is expected to carry out the following specific tasks:
· Collect and document information on national, regional and international smart water management initiatives; reporting on current activities and technical specifications.
· Specify the roles to be played by ICTs in smart water management.
· Develop a list mapping key stakeholders involved in the area of ICTs and smart water management.
· Develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess the impact achieved through the use of ICTs in water-management systems.
· Develop a set of methodologies for estimating the impact of ICTs on water conservation.
· Identify water-management ICT applications and services with the potential to ensure interoperability and the benefits of economies of scale.
· Draft technical reports that address standardization gaps and identify new standardization work items to be taken up by its parent group, ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change).
The new Focus Group will work in close collaboration with the Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities (FG-SSC) established in February 2013 (read an earlier newslog article on the formation of FG-SSC here).
Learn more about ITU-T’s work on ICTs, the environment and climate change here.
 
Durban events focus on spam, e-waste and the outcomes of WTSA & WCIT
An upcoming Joint ATU-ITU Seminar on the outcomes of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) and the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) will offer Africa’s ICT executives and policy makers an insight into the meaning and significance of these conference’s outcomes with a view to ensuring their effective implementation. The event will be preceded by two workshops geared towards key directives issued by WTSA-12 and WCIT-12, that of countering spam and ensuring the eco-friendly management of e-waste. The two full-day workshops are free of charge and open to all interested parties, including non-members of ITU.
The three events will be hosted by South Africa’s Department of Communications at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa:
· Joint ATU-ITU Seminar on the outcomes of WTSA-12 and WCIT-12, organized by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and ITU, 10-11 July 2013.
The 2012 meeting of ITU-T’s main decision-making body, WTSA, adopted the first-ever Resolutions on e-health, software-defined networking and e-waste. ITU-T also saw its mandate re-emphasized and strengthened in crucial areas such as accessibility, climate change, and conformity and interoperability, along with encouragement for the greater participation of academia.
WCIT-12’s revision of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) was especially relevant to ITU-T, with the new treaty requiring Member States to encourage the application of relevant ITU-T Recommendations in areas including Quality of Service (QoS), numbering, international calling line identification, international roaming, emergency communications, countering spam, energy-efficiency, e-waste and accessibility. WCIT-12 also called on ITU-T to study the regulatory, technical and economic issues which need to be addressed in the transition from dedicated phone and data networks to converged IP-based networks.
The workshop on “Countering and Combating Spam” responds to Article 7 of the new ITRs on “unsolicited bulk electronic communications” which encourages Member States to cooperate in taking necessary measures to prevent the propagation of spam and minimize its impact on international telecommunication services.
The workshop on the “Environmentally Sound Management of e-Waste” responds to Article 8 of the new ITRs which encourages Member States to adopt energy-efficiency and e-waste best practices, taking into account relevant ITU-T Recommendations. WTSA-12 offered another boost to ITU’s mandate in this arena by agreeing a new Resolution on e-waste; giving further impetus to ITU’s standardization work on the subject and requesting ITU’s standardization and development sectors, ITU-T and ITU-D, to assist Member States in instituting policy frameworks that limit e-waste’s negative environmental effects. It also instructs ITU-T Study Group 5 to develop Recommendations, methodologies and other publications relating to handling and controlling e-waste as well as methods of treating it.