PRESS REPORT ON THE WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION
STANDARDIZATION ASSEMBLY: MAIN HIGHLIGHTS
New Study Group on next-generation networks
Next-generation networks represent the future evolution of current fixed and
mobile networks. The fundamental difference between NGN and today’s network is
the switch from current ‘circuit-switched’ networks to ‘packet-based’ systems
such as those using Internet Protocol (IP). NGN is expected to give fixed line
and mobile users completely seamless communication and to offer unrestricted
access by users to different service providers in a multi-service,
multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment. The need for global standards for NGN
is therefore critical as most operators expect to move to an IP infrastructure.
Against this background, the Assembly decided to create a new study group for
NGN. In addition to taking over the tasks foreseen for the former Study-Group
13, the new study group will deal with all questions relating to architecture
and frameworks for NGN. The new study group will decide on the future of the
Focus Group that had been established prior to WTSA-04. Focus groups are set up
to augment the study group work programme by providing an alternative working
environment for the quick development of specifications in their chosen areas.
The signalling requirements for NGN will be developed by the new study group
in conjunction with Study Group 11 (signalling). Coordination of all NGN-related
activities that will take place in other study groups will also be the
responsibility of the new NGN study group. To this end, other study groups will
develop detailed Recommendations based on the requirements expressed by the NGN
study group. The new study group will be assisted in its work by a joint
coordination mechanism set up to coordinate core NGN studies in the area of
mobility, signalling, naming, numbering, addressing and routing.
The first meeting of the new study group is foreseen to take place from 7 to
17 December this year .
Some of the key decisions of this Assembly relate to the Internet work of
ITU-T. The discussions found a positive outcome on the last day of the Assembly.
Measures to combat spam
With spam having grown into one of the major plagues affecting the digital
world, causing additional costs and loss of revenue to Internet service
providers, telecoms operators and business users, measures to combat it have
taken on an added sense of urgency. Technical measures are an important way to
counter spam. With announcements made in recent months by industry and standards
groups on improved technical measures to further counter spam, the Assembly
decided to task ITU-T study groups to work with the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF) and others to develop technical recommendations aimed at countering
spam, including required definitions, that can have global applicability. The
Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) will follow work carried
out in this area for future guidance.
WTSA also adopted a resolution which calls for a report to be prepared on
international initiatives undertaken for countering spam and on possible
follow-up. The resolution also invites Member States to take steps within their
national legal frameworks to ensure that appropriate and effective measures are
taken to combat spam.
ITU-T’s contribution to WSIS
The WSIS Declaration adopted by Heads of State in December 2003 recognizes
that "the management of the Internet encompasses both technical and public
policy issues and should involve all stakeholders and relevant intergovernmental
and international organizations". It also underlines the fact that
"international organizations have had and should continue to have an important
role in the development of Internet-related standards and relevant policies".
Following the Declaration, and with a view to helping shape the ITU contribution
to WSIS and in particular the WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance, WTSA
decided to create a group for the purpose of providing the first meeting of the
ITU Council Working Group on WSIS to be held in 2005 with input on the technical
aspects of the telecommunication networks used by the Internet.
Naming, numbering, addressing, routing and identification
The rapidly increasing use of mobile networks and the proliferation of
services beyond traditional voice telephony require a separation of user
identity from terminal identity and from geographic location, while not
compromising global interconnectivity. With the anticipated development of new
networks — or next-generation networks — and their associated capabilities, it
will be necessary to address new telecommunication services which will require
unique numbering, naming and addressing capabilities. These capabilities have
the potential to be significantly different from those applicable to currently
deployed (legacy) networks, yet it is essential that they interwork fully with
this legacy environment in order to maintain the reality of any user being able
to identify and reach any other user on a global basis.
To this end, the work programme of Study Group 2, responsible for the
operational aspects of service provision, networks and performance, will also
examine naming, numbering, addressing and routing (NNAR) for NGN.
In addition, the Assembly revised a resolution on the allocation of
international telecommunication numbering, naming, addressing and identification
codes such as country codes, signalling area and network codes, data country
codes, mobile country codes, etc. Based on the recognition that it is in the
best interests of ITU members to build and maintain confidence in the use of
telecom services, the text reaffirms the responsibility of ITU in this area and
underlines the general principles governing the assignment, reassignment or
reclamation of such international resources. It also requests study groups to
provide advice and guidance on such issues, particularly in cases of complaints
about misuses of an international numbering resource.
Considering the work carried out by ITU-T on electronic numbering (ENUM) and
remaining unresolved issues, WTSA tasked Study Group 2 to examine how ITU could
have administrative control over changes relating to international
telecommunication resources including naming, numbering, addressing and routing
used for ENUM.
ENUM is an Internet telephone number mapping protocol. Under the proposed
ENUM protocol, and subject to national authorities and end-user approval, it
will be possible for consumers to use a single number to access many types of
terminals and services, such as phone, fax, e-mail, pager, mobile phones,
websites or any other services available through an internet addressing scheme,
at home, at work or while roaming.
Country Code Top Level Domain Names
Considering that there are still issues that need to be addressed relating to
the delegation of country code top level domain (ccTLD) to entities designated
by national authorities, a new resolution was adopted, instructing ITU-T Study
Group 2 to work with governments and industry to review Member States’ ccTLD
Internationalized Domain Names
Considering the need for an in-depth discussion of the political, economic
and technical issues related to internationalized domain names (IDN) arising out
of the interaction between national sovereignty and international coordination
and harmonization, the Assembly tasked Study Group 17 to study IDN.
Considering that the type and number of cyberincidents, including attacks
from worm, viruses, malicious intrusions and thrill-seekers are on the increase
and in light of the potential vulnerability resulting from the convergence of
legacy networks with IP networks, cybersecurity was high on the agenda of this
In addition to a workshop on cybersecurity organized on the eve of WTSA (see
on the outcome of the workshop), the Assembly adopted a Resolution on the
subject. The Resolution tasks ITU-T to evaluate its Recommendations, especially
in the area of signalling and communications protocols, in order to ensure their
robustness, thus preventing potential exploitation by malicious parties to
interfere destructively with their deployment in the global ICT infrastructure.
It also asks that ITU-T continue to raise awareness of the need to defend
information and communications systems against the threat of cyber attack and,
continue to promote cooperation among appropriate entities in order to enhance
exchange of technical information in the field of information and communication
The Assembly set up a new group to oversee the workshop programme of ITU-T.
The seminar and workshop coordination committee (SCC) will see its exact mandate
firmed-up in the next meeting of the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory
As well as acting as an overseer of the organization of seminars and
workshops, the group will act as a ‘technology watch’ to monitor the market for
topic areas for workshops that may be fed back into the work programme of ITU-T.
SCC will also seek to encourage developing countries to more actively
participate in the definition and organization of these events.
Call-back and similar calling practices
The issue of call-back and other similar practices has been on the ITU agenda
for some time. At WTSA 2004, an amendment to the existing resolution on
call-back was approved. Accordingly, Study Group 3 (tariffs) is requested to
study the economic effect of call-back and other similar calling practices in
developing countries and how it impacts on their ability to develop their
telecommunication networks and services. The study will also evaluate the
effectiveness of the suggested guidelines for consultation on call-back. Study
Group 3 is also requested to examine other aspects and forms of alternative
calling procedure including refiling.
Greater involvement of developing countries in standardization activities
Noting the difficulties encountered by developing countries, least developed
countries (LDC) and countries with economies in transition, in ensuring their
effective participation in the work of the Standardization Sector, the Assembly
adopted an action plan based on 5 programmes. The first programme on
strengthening standard-making capabilities includes the introduction of
webcasting of study group meetings to enable remote participation or assistance
to these countries in the development of standardization plans, strategies and
policies. The second programme will aim to ensure that developing countries,
LDCs and countries with economies in transition have a clear understanding of
ITU’s recommendations through an assessment of whether existing national
standards are consistent with ITU-T’s, application guidelines for ITU-T
recommendations or training courses. The third programme on human resource
building will be achieved through the organization of seminars, workshops and
study group meetings in these countries. Under this programme, a forum will also
be created, moderated by a group of experts, to provide advice to standards
bodies in these countries. Programme 4 calls for direct support by a developed
country mentoring a group of developing countries, LDCs and countries with
economies in transition to help them carry out their standardization activities
more effectively. Finally, programme 5 invites public-private voluntary
contributions to fund the implementation of the action plan.
Another measure taken by WTSA 2004 to improve the level of developing country
participation in standardization activities is the creation of regional groups.
Under this scheme already used in Study Group 3, chairmen of regional groups act
as a liaison with countries of their region to inform them about the work of the
study group and how it affects them. Regional groups also serve as a forum where
needs of countries of the region are discussed and agreed for input to the work
of the study group. The use of regional groups not only facilitates the adoption
of common positions but also proves particularly useful for countries unable to
participate in study group meetings.
Other measures adopted by the Assembly, pending approval by the ITU’s
governing body (ITU Council), include the free access of ITU Handbooks,
guidelines and other publications related to the implementation of ITU-T
Recommendations, particularly those on planning, operation and maintenance of
networks. ITU members already have free access to all ITU-T
Recommendations. A campaign is also requested to be launched to promote
standardization activities in Africa.
There was considerable discussion on whether the current way to approve
technical recommendations that have no policy or regulatory impact needed
revision. Currently, a recommendation can be approved by a study group if it is
not opposed. A number of proposals were tabled to address this issue. The
proponents for change argued that this effective veto right was introducing a
degree of uncertainty to the development of technical recommendations. They
proposed that a minimum number of member states be required to oppose. Those in
favour of the status quo argued that the current approval process had
demonstrated its merits, having reduced significantly time-to-market delivery of
standards. In the course of the discussions, other proposals were put forward.
After much discussion, the Chairman tabled a compromise proposal that the
Assembly approved. Accordingly, the new approval process for recommendations
that do not have a policy or regulatory impact (i.e. those approved under the
accelerated approval process) will require that more than one Member State
object to the adoption of a Recommendation for it to be considered opposed. At
the same time, the Assembly tasked the Telecommunication Standardization
Advisory Group (TSAG) which reviews the output of WTSAs on an ongoing basis and
which has authority to act in between assemblies, to review the matter if
WTSA also approved a change in the ITU-T working methods dealing with the
appointment and term of office for chairman and vice-chairmen of ITU-T study
groups and of TSAG. The change approved by the Assembly introduces a
geographical dimension to the appointment process by giving preference to
candidates from members having the lowest number of designated study group
chairmen when two candidates for the same position have the same competence.
Another area of change is the adoption of regional preparations for world
telecommunication standardization assemblies. The consolidation of views at
regional level together with the opportunity for interregional discussions prior
to the Assembly generally facilitates consensus-building. With the greater
efficiency of regional preparations that has been witnessed at Florianópolis,
WTSA 2004 decided to adopt a resolution which calls for the organization of one
regional preparatory meeting per region followed by an informal meeting of the
chairmen and vice-chairmen of the regional preparatory meetings
to be held within six months from the
Structure of the Sector and priorities of the work programme
A total of 165 questions have been allocated to the 13 Study Groups
with the following general areas of responsibility:
Operational aspects of service provision, networks and performance
and accounting principles including telecommunication economic and
Protection against electromagnetic environment effects
plant and related outdoor installations
Integrated broadband cable networks and television and sound
Signalling requirements and protocols
Performance and quality of service
Next-generation networks (architecture, evolution and convergence)
and other transport network infrastructures
Multimedia terminals, systems and applications
languages and telecommunications software
Building on the success of WTSA 2000's proposals to increase efficiency in
the production of ITU standards (ITU-T Recommendations), WTSA-04 delegates
agreed to the consolidation of the areas of work to be covered by study groups.
As a result, an increased scope of study will be achieved with a reduction of
some 15% in the number of Questions.
The new study group structure will start with the first series of meetings
WTSA 2004 included, for the first time, a gender perspective in the work of
the ITU-T with the adoption of a resolution on gender mainstreaming. The
resolution encourages ITU-T members to contribute to meeting gender-equality
objectives through the participation of women in both standardization activities
and leadership positions.
For further information, please contact:
Deputy to the Director
ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau
Tel: +41 22 730 5860
Fax: +41 22 730 5853