What does ITU do?
ITU has three main areas of activity organized in ‘Sectors’ which work through conferences and meetings.
Satellites enable phone calls, television programmes, satellite navigation and online maps. Space services are vital in monitoring and transmitting changes in such data as ocean temperature, vegetation patterns and greenhouse gases – helping us predict famines, the path of a hurricane, or how the global climate is changing. The explosive growth of wireless communications, particularly to provide broadband services, demonstrates the need for global solutions to address the need for additional radio spectrum allocations and harmonized standards to improve interoperability.
ITU's Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) coordinates this vast and growing range of radiocommunication services, as well as the international management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. An increasing number of players need to make use of these limited resources, and participating in ITU-R conferences and study group activities – where important work is done on mobile broadband communications and broadcasting technologies such as Ultra HDTV and 3D TV – is becoming an ever-higher priority for both governments and industry players.
ITU standards (called Recommendations) are fundamental to the operation of today’s ICT networks. Without ITU standards you couldn’t make a telephone call or surf the Internet. For Internet access, transport protocols, voice and video compression, home networking, and myriad other aspects of ICTs, hundreds of ITU standards allow systems to work – locally and globally. For instance, the Emmy award-winning standard ITU-T H.264 is now one of the most popular standards for video compression. In a typical year, ITU will produce or revise upwards of 150 standards covering everything from core network functionality to next-generation services such as IPTV. If your product or service requires any kind of international buy-in, you need to be part of the standardization discussions in ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) .
ITU's Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) has a programme to offer you – whether you are interested in entering or expanding your presence in emerging markets, demonstrating global ICT leadership, learning how to put good policy into practice, or pursuing your mandate for corporate social responsibility. In an increasingly networked world, expanding access to ICTs globally is in everybody's interest. ITU champions a number of major initiatives which encompass ITU's internationally-accorded mandate to ‘bridge the digital divide’, such as its ITU Connect events or Connect a School, Connect a Community. ITU also regularly publishes the industry’s most comprehensive and reliable ICT statistics.
Much of the work at ITU is done in study groups which comprise diverse expertise. Each study group has a specific focus and participants work together to define the frameworks that will ensure optimum functioning of all services, both existing and future. The main output of a study group is the establishment of technical standards or guidelines (Recommendations).
Many study group experts represent competing commercial interests – yet within the walls of ITU, differences are put aside in order to cooperatively develop systems, share best practice, and formulate principles and guidelines that will serve the interests of the industry as a whole. By providing a neutral platform for global consensus, ITU offers a vital and efficient service to an industry that is already a main driver for social and economic development.
Focus groups and other meetings
Focus groups provide an effective forum for members and non-members alike to address urgent, market-oriented industry issues that lie outside the mandate of existing study groups.
Seminars organized by ITU attract high-level speakers and are an effective opportunity to learn more about a particular topic, while ITU workshops offer an invaluable forum for peer-to-peer exchange of ideas. Workshop outcomes can become inputs to study groups.
These events, which are organized all over the world, are a very useful introduction to ITU’s work.
Global meeting place
In addition to member-only events and meetings, ITU regularly hosts global and regional events and workshops that are open to non-members. Considered by many to be the global gathering place for the ICT sector, ITU is famous for events like ITU TELECOM WORLD, which brings together the most influential representatives of government and industry to exchange ideas and knowledge for the benefit of all.
By connecting the world and fulfilling everyone’s fundamental right to communicate, we strive to make the world a better and safer place.
Developing skills and knowledge
'Connecting the unconnected' is not just a question of putting infrastructure in place. Infrastructure has to be supported by effective regulatory strategies and policies and an understanding of future trends: technical, social and economic. ITU brings partners together to discuss these issues, share insights and best practice, and lay the groundwork for long-term industry growth. ITU publishes regular reports highlighting important developments and also has its own ITU Academy programme which trains technicians, regulators, administrators and local communities in how best to use the power of ICTs.