"With some 4 billion subscribers, our mobile universe is continually expanding, presenting us with unprecedented access to communication and its huge potential. With this comes an increased need not only for efficient regulation but also for greater international cooperation because mobile technology transcends borders. ITU is the international organization that can work across the whole ICT industry, engaging governments and heads of business to help promote growth."
- Dr. Hamadoun Tourť, ITU Secretary-General
Standardization, spectrum and beyond
Whether shaping its networks, standards and technologies, or managing the spectrum on which wireless technologies depend, ITU has been a key figure in the development of mobile. From the days of the earliest NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephony) networks to the latest advanced wireless technology, ITU has operated effectively centre stage as well as behind the scenes to help bring the social and economic benefits of mobile connectivity to millions of people around the world.
And this is just the beginning. Whether itís in the form of one of ITUís many Study Groups, helping broker ground-breaking agreements on next-generation mobile or set standards for fixed mobile convergence, or through one of its major events such as ITU TELECOM WORLD, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 5-9 October 2009, ITU brings together the people that matter to shape the ICT landscape.
In todayís economic climate, staying ahead of change is critical, and ITU is spearheading work on many major issues facing the mobile industry. From the need to reach out to new users, to the next generation of seamless wireless services, or the importance of building a safe and sustainable world for future generations, ITU remains at the cutting edge of innovation. At the same time, as a means of recovering from the financial crisis, ITU continues to press the ICT industry to continue to invest in infrastructure and the roll out of cost-effective services, such as next-generation networks.
Empowering Users Worldwide
Mobile is already firmly entrenched as the predominant mode of telephony in many developing countries, where its benefits are manifold. It can be used to power applications such as SMS, providing simple and innovative solutions for making payments or cash transfers, receiving commodity prices and enabling more efficient distribution for local producers. ITU is working in the field to promote access in many ways, in partnership with key stakeholders such as the African Development Bank, European Commission, Nokia Siemens Networks, or GSMA.
Emergency or Disaster Situations
Mobile technology has a critical role to play within the field of emergency telecommunications, where it can be used or quickly deployed in the immediate aftermath of disasters to provide a timely flow of critical information, particularly for those living in remote or isolated areas. ITU works with key industry partners such as Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya, ICO Global Communications, Vizada, TerreStar Global, FedEx and Qualcomm to deploy emergency telecommunications in the parts of the world where they are needed most.
Driving New Applications
Easy to use and available to provide immediate ICT access, it is no wonder that mobile has become the technology of choice for many. Its rapid uptake paves the way for a wealth of increasingly sophisticated mobile applications, from M-payments to M-health and M-banking. As the recognized leader in new digital authentication systems that will be essential to building trust and confidence in online transactions, ITU has launched a Global Standards Initiative designed to develop a global digital identity management framework to assure worldwide interoperability.
Networks of Tomorrow
It is not just todayís technology that ITU is focusing on. Shaping the future of mobile telephony is also high on ITUís agenda, and the concept of mobility has been a key focus of the global study of next-generation networks (NGN) by ITU and others in the last few years, with ITU approving key standards on the topic of fixed mobile convergence. Central to NGN is the concept of Ďnomadicityí, which will give fixed line and mobile users completely seamless communication. Invisible to the end user, the underlying technology would function in a multi-service, multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment and will merge the previously distinct worlds of fixed and mobile telecommunications.
Delivering such a powerful vision in a simple and reliable way to the end user requires a body which can facilitate agreements across multiple technologies, companies, regulatory and geographic boundaries. ITU is the international organization with the track record and access to deliver such a vision.
Systems Beyond 3G
To pave the way to a truly wireless world, ITU has been leading efforts across governments and industry to define the requirements and specifications for the cutting-edge systems known as IMT-Advanced, which will take the world beyond 3G. These systems will enable a raft of different wireless access technologies to be used alongside and to complement each other, helping achieve a universal, streamlined connectivity and a common and flexible service platform for different services and applications. Watch this space for content-rich, higher-mobility applications and an Internet thatís well and truly mobile.
ITUís Strategic Commitment: Promoting a Cleaner, Greener Environment
Helping the world benefit from mobile services in an environmentally responsible way is one of ITUís major goals. ITU is actively promoting energy-efficient devices and networks, as well as supporting the development of corresponding technical standards to limit and reduce the power requirements of ICT equipment and services.
But ITU isnít just interested in reducing the environmental impact of mobile devices. It is also helping find ways to use mobile technologies to help people live more environmentally friendly lives ó through, for example, remote collaboration, monitoring and sensing. ICTs clearly have a vital role to play in tackling climate change, a sentiment echoed at ITUís recent symposium on ICTs and climate change, held in Quito, Ecuador, the first such symposium on the topic to be held in a developing country.
Through its three sectors, (ITU-T, Standardization, ITU-R, Radiocommunication, ITU-D, Development) plus a host of other initiatives and events, including its upcoming flagship ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009, to be held in Geneva from 5-9 October 2009,ITU works to support ICT growth in todayís world and helps map out its future landscape.
For statistics covering the telecommunication/ICT industry (inc. mobile subscribers), check our free data via the ICT Eye.