Without 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 X.25, ISDN, wave division multiplexing and fibre optic transport. Cabling standards, PONs (passive optical networks) and fixed-mobile convergence.
Even the international numbering and signalling systems that enable calls to be seamlessly interconnected between operators are based on ITU standards. Most people will have had their first taste of the Internet via an ITU standardized modem, and most users with a broadband connection will also be profiting from ITU standards.
Moving from its telephony-oriented roots to providing standards for next generation converged networks and services, ITU's standards development activity focuses on true end-to-end connectivity. Standards that really do 'Connect the World'.
ITU standards owe their global credibility to the fact that most of the hard slog standardization work is undertaken by ad hoc gatherings of voluntary representatives from the public and private sector that meet several times a year to develop and update the equipment and transmission specifications which become ITU-T and ITU-R Recommendations.
ITU-T's growing membership list testifies to its role as the industry's key standard-setter: representatives from 191 Member States, 297 operators, scientific and industrial organizations and 34 regional or international organizations now actively participate in the work of the Sector.
Streamlined standards for converged networks
To respond to the needs of an increasingly competitive, fast-moving environment, ITU-T has dramatically streamlined its processes. The pace of work continues to accelerate: 29 per cent more ITU-T Recommendations were approved in 2008 than in 2007, and this year's workload looks set to increase further.
A programme of proactive cooperation with other respected standardization groups including ISO, IEEE, IETF, and the IEC has strengthened ITU-T's own technical capabilities, providing access to new global expertise and resources.
To further enhance worldwide access to globally-agreed Recommendations, over 3,000 core standards are now downloadable directly over the Internet, free of charge. The move has been particularly beneficial to developing countries, which downloaded over 300,000 copies of ITU-T standards in 2007.