More than nine-tenths of Internet traffic now travels through undersea fibre-optic cables (The Economist magazine, 1 July 2010). Optical technologies have been the driving force behind the growth in bandwidth of the Internet and enabled the emergence of bandwidth-hungry applications for video and new business models such as YouTube which allows users to share video clips. Today, many end-users may access the network via a mobile device or netbook, recent significant growth in mobile traffic can only be handled by extremely high-capacity networks based on fibre.
Standardization and interoperability at the core of the Internet are essential to ensure that the host of different devices, communication networks and protocols can communicate and work in parallel to deliver services to end-users reliably and without delay.
ITU’s ADSL standards offered the first real broadband technology to open up an entirely new web experience for a new generation of Internet users. New techniques have been developed through ITU’s work to enable telecom operators to leverage their investments in copper wire to increase the speed via the super-fast ‘VDSL2’ standard developed by ITU-T. ITU-T’s recent work has focused on standards in fibre optics such as Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) in the transport layers at the heart of any network to provide the massive capacity needed to support the greater mobile traffic generated by consumers, as well as ‘green’ standards for more carbon-efficient ICTs and the measurement of carbon emissions to combat climate change.
ITU-T is active in many other pioneering areas pushing forward the frontiers of the future Internet, such as cloud computing, Internet of Things, intelligent transport systems, the transition to IPv6, advanced multimedia and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV). Along with other technical institutions, ITU-T’s technical standardization work is helping realize the vision of a fully networked society, as users expect to be able to access high-speed services anytime, anywhere, over any device.