Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Telegraph and Telephone Conferences

Persistent Identifier for this page


World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference (Melbourne, 1988)

28 November - 9 December 1988 - Melbourne, Australia

The 1988 Melbourne World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference (WATTC) was greatly influenced by the increasingly strong trend towards privatization, liberalization and convergence of services. As a consequence, negotiations were difficult. However, a compromise text was finally agreed upon. The resulting text was called the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) and it replaced both the Telegraph Regulations and the Telephone Regulations, thus implicitly recognizing the decreased importance of telegraphy.

While the ITRs were a compromise at the time, they turn out, in retrospect, to have been instrumental in facilitating continuing privatization and liberalization of telecommunications markets. These trends were further facilitated by agreements made in the Global Agreement on Trade in Services in 1994 (Annex on Telecommunications) and in 1996 (Reference Paper on Basic Telecommunications Services).

The ITRs contained a key provision in Article 9, Special Arrangements. For the first time private operators were explicitly allowed to use leased lines to provide services, including data services. This provision facilitated the expansion of IP-based networks and the services popularly referred to as the Internet.

The Morris worm, or Internet worm of 2 November 1988, was one of the first computer worms distributed via the Internet and was certainly the first worm to gain significant mainstream media attention. When the WATTC was convened on 28 November, this worm was still a topic of concern. Although the worm itself was not explicitly mentioned in the ITRs, the “avoidance of technical harm” provision of Article 9 is generally considered to have been inspired by a desire to take steps that would prevent a reoccurrence of problems of this type. This is possibly the first cybersecurity treaty provision. A similar provision was subsequently added to what is now Article 42 of the ITU Convention.

The WATTC also adopted a number of Resolutions and Recommendations and one Opinion which complemented the provisions of the ITRs.

​Text contributed by Richard Hill (ITU/TSB) and Tony Rutkowski (WATTC’88 participant)
World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference (Melbourne, 1988)
The History of ITU Portal is now using Persistent Identifiers for its digitized documents. To view the Persistent Identifier for a specific document, hover the cursor over the document link and then right-click to copy it.
Final Acts of WATTC-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(English)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Actes finales de la CAMTT-88 (Melbourne, 1998)(French)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Actas Finales de la CAMTT-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(Spanish)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Final Acts of WATTC-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(Arabic)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Final Acts of WATTC-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(Chinese)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Final Acts of WATTC-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(Russian)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Final List of Documents of WATTC-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(English)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Document No. 1-128(English)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Liste finale des documents de la CAMTT-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(French)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Document No. 1-128(French)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Lista Finale de Documentos de la CAMTT-88 (Melbourne, 1988)(Spanish)download PDF PDF (acrobat)
Documentos No. 1-128(Spanish)download PDF PDF (acrobat)


Dr. P.S. Wilenski (Australia)

Countries participating


List of participants

List of Participants of WATTC-88 (Geneva, 1988) [English/French/Spanish](Multilingual)download PDF PDF (acrobat)

Library Catalogue

  • Link to the Library Catalogue (Melbourne, 1988)