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Forum highlights radio interference fears

Non-ITU compliant home network equipment may cause problems

Concerns that home networking products using power line transmission (PLT) technology may cause interference with radio services led to a Forum held on 27 May 2011 in Geneva to address the issue. Given the variety of electronic devices in our homes, strict electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements are imperative. Over-the-air broadcast services in particular could be subject to interference from PLT systems. The Forum considered that ITU’s own home networking standard ITU–T G.hn has EMC and mitigation techniques that go well beyond those considered essential for protecting radio services.

“There are PLT products on the market that do not conform to the necessary EMC standards, and this is very much a concern,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I.Touré. “We are fortunate in ITU to have telecommunication and radio experts from both the private sector, government and regulators. Together they have agreed the necessary requirements to ensure that products conforming to ITU standards do not cause interference, which may have potentially serious consequences. We would caution service providers and others against rolling out technologies conforming to specifications that do not meet ITU requirements.”

The Forum took place in parallel with an interoperability event giving ITU–T G.hn chipset vendors the opportunity to test their products, which will be on the market later this year. It brought together radio spectrum experts from national regulators, service providers, and product manufacturers, as well as standards development organizations, and industry alliances including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), HomeGrid Forum, IARU, NAJO/IAU and HomePlug.

Commitments and future actions by all stakeholders to resolve interference issues in the interest of consumers were agreed at the Forum. A key conclusion is that ITU will act as the focal point for coordinating other standards development organizations and industry alliances in order to agree on further developments.

John Shaw, representing BBC World Service, said at the meeting: “For broadcasters, it is extremely important that products sold do not interfere with the reception of programmes or reduce coverage. We applaud the efforts of ITU to ensure international acceptance of the organization’s stringent guidelines on compatibility between electronic communication systems and the use of the radio-frequency spectrum.” Similar views were also expressed by representatives of the aeronautical and radio astronomy communities.


Universal Charger made even greener

Industry backing for update that extends device use

ITU’s one-size fits all universal charger has been further improved to maximize the benefits for end users by extending its use to a wider variety of devices and making it even more energy efficient. It will no longer be necessary to provide a new charger with every new ICT device.

A detachable cable with standardized end connectors will allow connection to devices including all mobile phones and other hand-held devices (such as MP3/MP4 players, tablet computers, cameras, wireless headphones, and GPS devices). This also means that the charger can be used for data transfer, avoiding an unnecessary duplicate cable and thus further reducing costs and e-waste.

The ITU membership also agreed to specify a noload power consumption of the power adapter below 0.03W, which is the most efficient available today. Considering that billions of these chargers will be made available in the market in the next few years, the new standard will make it possible to significantly reduce global energy use.

Chargers built according to the new standard will be safer, and will use eco-friendly materials. The user guide will remind people to unplug their chargers when not in use, to further reduce the environmental impact of charging. In addition, the recommended charging current has been increased — in the range 750 to 1500 mA — so as to reduce charging time. The standard now meets the requirements of the Basel Convention on e-waste.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré said, “Other standards claim to be universal and energy efficient, but only ITU’s solution is truly universal and a real step forward in addressing environmental and climate change issues. This updated standard will bring the benefits of the universal charger to a wider range of devices and consumers. I am sure it will be welcomed by all ITU’s membership — 192 governments and over 700 private sector entities. The environmental impact of wide adoption will be enormous. This major improvement on the standard agreed first in 2009 shows how fast ITU can respond to the rapidly changing market demand”.

Companies including Telecom Italia, France Telecom-Orange, China Academy of Telecommunication Research, Research In Motion, Swisscom, Belgacom, AT&T, Telefónica, TDC, Huawei, Telia Sonera and A1 Telekom Austria have already committed to the standard.


ITU and European Patent Office agree to share information

Agreement will smooth the adoption of new technology

Standards are essential for the wide adoption of new technologies in the marketplace. However, there is potential for conflict between patents and standards when the implementation of the standard requires the use of technology protected by one or more patents. Recognizing the need to share information in this area, ITU and the European Patent Office have signed a sharing agreement that will enable the European Patent Office to enhance patent quality and legal certainty by improving access to ITU documentation.

The new agreement will help create the right balance between the interests of all relevant stakeholders, including patent holders, implementers of the standards, and end users, while seeking to enable solutions to market-driven needs on a global basis.

“ITU has long championed an intellectual property policy that takes into account the needs of patent holders as well as a requirement to meet the needs of end users in the most efficient manner,” ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré said, “This agreement will provide the necessary framework to better respond to the challenges created by the interplay between patents and standards, and will increase the transparency of patent information declared to ITU.”

Mr Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office, said, “This agreement is in recognition of the importance for standard-setting organizations to cooperate with patent and trademark offices with a view to improving transparency at the interplay of both systems and facilitating the work of patent examiners in their examination processes.”

The agreement will allow ITU to link its Patent Database to the European Patent Office Database, which contains patent documentation relevant to ITU’s standardization activities. Joint workshops on the interplay between intellectual property rights and standards are also foreseen.

In order to minimize the risk of conflict and to assure smooth and wide dissemination of standardized technology, ITU, together with World Standards Cooperation partners the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), established a joint patent policy in 2007. The common policy provides reassurance to industry that its interests are protected when sharing intellectual property with implementers of standards. It also ensures that patents embodied in ITU standards are accessible to everyone without undue constraints.

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Photo credit: ITU/D. Court
Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau; Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General; Benoît Battistelli, President of EPO; and Wim van der Eijk, Principal Director, Patent Law and International Affairs sign a Memorandum of Understanding

 

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