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 Thursday, October 21, 2010
New Resolution: Conformance and interoperability

The conference decided that ITU will continue to implement Resolution 76 of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Johannesburg, 2008) and Resolution 47 (Rev. Hyderabad, 2010), along with the recommendations of the Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau ( TSB), endorsed by the Council at its 2009 session, regarding:

-a conformity assessment programme;
-an interoperability events programme;
-a human resources capacity building;
-recommendations to assist in the establishment of test facilities in developing countries.

This is the thrust of a new resolution just adopted on conformance and interoperability. The resolution emphasizes that this programme of work be implemented in parallel without any delay. The Director TSB is asked to prepare a business plan for the long-term implementation of this resolution.
The programme of work includes building up a pilot database into a fully functioning conformity database. The implementation of the conformity database will take into consideration the outcome and effect on Member States, Sector Members and stakeholders, how it will help bridge the standardization gap, potential liability issues, and the results of the regional ITU conformity and interoperability consultations.

A major part of the programme will be to assist developing countries to establish regional or subregional conformity and interoperability centres that can carry out interoperability testing.

Malcolm Johnson, who was recently re-elected Director of TSB with an overwhelming majority, is called upon to study the possibility of a future ITU Mark programme. This would be a voluntary programme permitting manufacturers and service providers to make a visible declaration that their equipment conforms to ITU-T Recommendations.

The Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) is expected to collaborate with the Director of TSB and Director of BR to advance the implementation of Resolution 47 (Rev. Hyderabad, 2010) and to assist Member States in dealing with the problem of counterfeit equipment. Developing countries, in particular, are worried about counterfeit equipment because it may negatively affect the quality of their telecommunication infrastructure.

Resolution 76 (Johannesburg, 2008) deals with studies related to conformance and interoperability testing, assistance to developing countries, and a possible future ITU Mark programme.

ITU’s ability to assess and recognize conformity and interoperability will be a driver for raising awareness and building capacity in developing countries. BDT will be the focal point for this activity through its global and regional initiatives, including the centres of excellence.

Presenting the report of the Director of TSB to the Working Group of the Plenary where agreement was first reached on the new resolution, R. Scholl said that a major concern raised at WTSA-08 was the lack of conformance and interoperability of equipment being placed on the market, especially in developing countries. To respond to that concern, TSB has developed a pilot conformity database, which is currently available only to ITU members. Entry in the database is voluntary and free of charge. Details of products and services that have been recognized by ITU as being in conformity with ITU-T Recommendations can be listed in the database. Subject to testing, a vendor is entitled to claim recognition of conformity.

ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) held two interoperability events - in July and in September 2010 - to test its IPTV suites of standards, and a third event will take place in December. These events are generating a lot of interest. Also, the mood evident during three regional ITU consultation meetings on conformance assessment and interoperability was of considerable support for Resolution 76 of WTSA-08. The overall consensus was that it would benefit both developing and developed countries if this resolution was implemented without further delay.  In this regard, the resolution adopted in Guadalajara represents an important milestone.