Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General
Ladies and gentlemen,
What a pleasure to be here with you today in Tehran, one
of the great cradles of human civilization. I cannot think of a more appropriate
venue in which to come together to discuss and debate the information and
communication technologies that represent the next great leap forward for
As engineers, radiocommunication experts, software developers and network
specialists, you’ll be spending the next two days focusing on the latest trends
and technological advances that will help you deliver the services tomorrow’s
users demand. A quick glance at the agenda confirms that you have a fascinating
programme ahead of you.
I very much doubt that any of you here today need an introduction to the work
of ITU. As the world’s oldest intergovernmental organization, we’ve been leading
the development of the world’s networks and services for over 140 years. Through
our 21 Study Groups spanning our three Sectors – Telecommunication
Standardization, Radiocommunication and ICT Development – we continue to pioneer
the technical standards that serve as the platform for the ongoing evolution of
As the broker of global consensus on the technologies and frameworks that
will underpin the next wave of innovation, ITU is active in every facet of ICT
development, from access networks, transmission, next generation networks and
broadband, to billing and numbering, satellite systems and of course wireless,
which continues to notch up exponential growth while expanding its reach into
In 2007, ITU-T alone produced over 160 new and revised standards, covering
everything from core public phone network functionality to next-generation
services like IPTV.
And to meet the needs of an industry where today’s breakthrough technology
quickly becomes yester-year’s legacy installation, we’ve dramatically
streamlined our processes, paring back the average development time for an ITU
Recommendation from four years in 1988 to around just one year today.
The pace of work continues to accelerate: 13% more ITU-T Recommendations were
approved in 2007 than in 2006, and, with the World Telecommunication
Standardization Assembly set to kick off in Johannesburg, South Africa in
October, this year’s achievement is already set to be higher still.
In September last year, to promote and enhance worldwide access to
globally-agreed ITU Recommendations, we also took the radical step of making
over 3,000 core ITU standards downloadable directly over the Internet, free of
charge. As hoped, this move has been particularly beneficial to developing
countries, which downloaded over 300,000 copies of ITU-T standards in 2007.
Looking ahead, priority areas of focus include Next Generation Networks,
multimedia codecs, digital identity management systems, fast broadband
platforms, and of course the next wave in cellular mobile, which is being
developed under the auspices of our IMT-Advanced project.
Work on NGN is progressing apace. ITU’s NGN Global Standards Initiative
represents one of the largest, most wide-ranging global standardization projects
ever undertaken, involving cooperative work between leading standards-making
bodies worldwide to define the networks that will deliver tomorrow’s converged,
Already, we’re beginning to see early deployments of NGN technologies, which
have the power not only to cut operational costs and enable advanced new
services, but also to reduce the carbon footprint of ICT networks through more
Audio and video codecs is another area in which ITU continues to make
history, through standards like H.262/MPEG2-video, H.264, and the JPEG T.80 and
T.800 image coding series.
H.264 is the world’s first truly scalable video codec, and is already used in
cutting-edge products like the new Apple iPod, as well as multimedia offerings
from companies including Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
In the area of converged services, ITU’s H.323 family is at the heart of the
overwhelming majority of Voice over IP systems. This market is now poised to
take off on a global scale, with analysts forecasting IP phone revenues doubling
to reach six billion dollars within the next five years.
ITU is also the recognized leader in new digital authentication systems that
will be essential to building trust and confidence in online transactions. ITU
Recommendation X.509 is already the default industry benchmark for public key
certificates, and last year our special Focus Group on Identity Management
launched a Global Standards Initiative designed to develop a global digital
identity management framework to assure worldwide interoperability.
Supporting the boom in multimedia applications, ITU also notched up a major
achievement with VDSL2, which supports 100Mbps upstream and downstream
transmission rates – a tenfold increase over ADSL. This technology is now being
rapidly adopted by telcos worldwide as part of new ‘triple-play’ bundled voice
and multimedia offerings like high-definition TV, video-on-demand,
videoconferencing, very fast Internet and ‘intelligent’ voice telephony.
In the wireless realm, IMT-Advanced represents another huge, cooperative
standardization effort that will deliver a new global platform on which to build
the next generation of mobile services – fast data access, unified messaging and
ITU-R has now commenced the submission and evaluation process for the terrestrial components of the IMT-Advanced radio interface, with work on this exciting new family of standards scheduled to culminate in 2011 with ITU Recommendations on the IMT-Advanced air interface.
At the same time, last year’s World Radiocommunication Conference saw ITU
broker agreement on new harmonized global spectrum allocations for IMT-based
systems. The conference also brought an important new technology into the IMT
fold. As we saw very clearly at our ITU TELECOM event in Cairo in May, WiMAX has
great potential as a platform for wireless broadband service delivery, and could
help the world’s developing regions quickly bridge the broadband divide.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the policy arena, we’re actively promoting our new Cybersecurity Agenda,
which aims to create a broad, workable global framework to quash the growing
tide of cybercrime that is now plaguing our networks. The Agenda continues to
garner avid support from both the public and private sector, and I’ll be shortly
presenting the strategic recommendations of our High Level Experts Group to ITU
Council for action.
Before the end of this year, I’ll also be launching a new element of this
Agenda aimed specifically at protecting children from criminals seeking to
target them with pornography, gambling and other illicit activities. While the
Internet has enormous potential for education, if we are to promote ICTs to our
youth we must first make sure that the Net is a safe place for them to be.
ITU is also taking the lead in addressing the impact and potential of ICTs in climate change. Following two ITU symposia earlier this year, we succeeded in getting this issue onto the agenda of the recent G8 summit in Japan, where world leaders agreed to promote work on energy-efficient technologies and better exploit the power of ICTs in areas like environmental monitoring, early warning systems for disaster response, and climate modeling and forecasting.
Our Connect Africa event, held in Kigali last year, drew unprecedented levels
of interest from the public and private sectors alike, and succeeding in
garnering 55 billion dollars in investment pledges.
The success of this event has encouraged us to convene more regionally
focused Connect events around the world, starting with Connect CIS, which will
be held in Belarus in 2009. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to announce
a Connect event for the Middle East region, should a host country express an
interest in serving as a venue.
In a similar vein, I’d like to take a moment to hail Iran’s crucial and very
welcome efforts in helping ITU establish a brand new ICT Institute for
Afghanistan. The Iranian government has contributed over 6 million dollars in
funding for this important regional project, which will provide young Afghans
with the chance to build careers in a fast-growing sector while helping the
country as a whole build the ICT knowledge base that will be fundamental to its
ongoing development. I’m very happy to report that this project is now in its
final stage, and should be open for business before the end of this year.
I am confident that this event’s stimulating discussions and debates will be
valuable in helping to meet the demands of your users and will also help to
serve your national development agendas.
We are fortunate to be working in the most exciting, and empowering, industry
in the world; so let us profit from our time together, and embrace the many
opportunities before us.