Why do we need international standards in telecommunications?
Worldwide standards provide manufacturers with a solid basis on which to compete in the global marketplace, unhindered by technical barriers. Also, because global standards can translate into formidable economies of scale and lower development and hardware costs, they mean lower prices to end-users. Global standards protect users from incompatibility problems between rival systems – a situation which could prove disastrous in a world increasingly reliant on information and communication technologies (ICT) to support economic activity and essential public services such as health care.
Without standards defined by ITU, the advanced wireless, broadband and multimedia technologies that are redefining today’s world simply would not exist. That’s because ITU has played a crucial role in defining the core transport and access technologies that underpin communications networks right around the world. Technologies like broadband access, fax and modems, X.25, ISDN, Wave Division Multiplexing and fibre optic transport. Cabling standards, PONs (passive optical networks) and fixed-mobile convergence. And the international numbering, freephone and premium rate numbers, billing and settlement systems that enable calls to be seamlessly interconnected between operators.
In a world with over 300 bodies working in some capacity on ICT standards, ITU is able to provide focus, clarity and leadership. ITU standards owe their global credibility to the fact that most of the hard slog standardization work is undertaken by its members the world’s ICT industry working together with world governments to develop and update the equipment and transmission specifications which become ITU-T Recommendations.