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ITU and its Activities Related to Internet Protocol (IP) Networks


Chapter Five: Internet-Protocol (IP) Related Activities in the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector

5.1              Introduction

The mission of the Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) aims at achieving the Sector's objectives based on the right to communicate of all inhabitants of the planet through access to infrastructure and information and communication services. In this regard, the ITU-D’s mission is to:

  • Assist developing countries in the field of information and communication technologies (ICTs), in facilitating the mobilization of technical, human and financial resources needed for their implementation, as well as in promoting access to ICTs.
  • Promote the extension of the benefits of ICTs to all the world’s inhabitants.
  • Promote and participate in actions that contribute towards narrowing the digital divide.
  • Develop and manage programmes that facilitate information flow geared to the needs of developing countries, with a focus on those with special needs, including the disabled and disadvantaged.
  • This mission should complement that of other organizations and entities seeking to improve access to communication technologies and services in the developing world.
  • The mission encompasses ITU’s dual responsibility as a United Nations specialized agency and an executing agency for implementing projects under the United Nations development system or other funding arrangements.

The Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) is the executive arm of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D), and is headed by a Director elected by ITU Member States. The current Director is Hamadoun Touré (Mali). The BDT’s duties and responsibilities cover a variety of functions ranging from programme supervision and technical advice to the collection, processing and publication of information relevant to telecommunication development. It works closely with ITU’s 11 regional and area offices around the world.

ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau has well-established programmes of activities to facilitate connectivity and access, foster policy, regulatory and network readiness, expand human capacity through training programmes, formulate financing strategies and e-enable enterprises in developing countries. The BDT’s current mandate is set forth in the final report of the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-02) held in Istanbul, Turkey, in March 2002 which was attended by 1152 delegates representing 152 ITU Member States.[1] This conference resulted in what is called the Istanbul Action Plan (ISAP), of which an overview is given below.

5.2              Cost of Membership

The cost of becoming an ITU-D Sector Member is currently about USD 6 000 per year.  A limited membership (Associate) costs approximately USD 2 400 per year.[2]

ITU membership fees are waived under certain circumstances subject to approval by the ITU Council, its annual governing body.

5.3              The Istanbul Action Plan (ISAP)

The Istanbul Action Plan charts a course for developing countries to transform the digital divide into digital opportunities. Bridging the digital divide means providing access to telecommunications and information and communication technologies (ICTs) and promoting their use so that all segments of society can harness the opportunities of the information society. Digital opportunities not only serve as an engine for economic growth, they enable social, educational and medical progress. These goals hinge upon the rollout of ICT networks and services.

The Istanbul Action Plan is a comprehensive package that will enable developing countries to promote the equitable and sustainable deployment of affordable ICT networks and services. The core of the Istanbul Action Plan is a series of six programmes to be implemented by the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) focusing on regulatory reform, new technologies, e-strategies and e-services/applications, economics and finance, human capacity building and special assistance to least developed countries.

The six programmes are as follows:

  • The Regulatory Reform programme focuses on practical tools and resources for regulatory bodies to engage in reform the most effectively to meet their national ICT development, access and use goals, creating safe investment opportunities and ensuring universal access to ICTs;
  • The Technologies and Telecommunication Network Development programme assists developing countries in the migration to new-generation technologies, including mobile, broadcasting, spectrum management, Internet protocol and multimedia to maximize utilization of appropriate new technologies in the development of ICT networks;
  • The e-strategies and e-services/applications programme fosters the implementation of value-added applications and Internet protocol (networks and applications) in government, health, education, business, agriculture and other sectors, extending the social and economic benefits of ICTs to all segments of society;
  • The Economics and Finance including Cost and Tariff programme assists developing countries to ready themselves in a competitive environment where the focus has shifted from state funding of infrastructure and services to private sector investment, developing guidelines on economic analysis, financing policies and strategies that encourage lower costs for end users;
  • The Human Capacity Building programme assists developing countries to strengthen their human, institutional and organizational capacity through human resource management and development, expanding its reach to include the very policy-makers and regulators that are at the cutting edge of designing and implementing policies to increase access and use of ICTs;
  • The Special Programme for the least developed countries (LDCs) aimed at integrating LDCs into the world economy through telecommunication development and its ability to positively impact the delivery of assistance to LDCs.

5.4              Brief Overview of ITU-D IP Networks and Internet related Activities

During last few years, and particularly since the Istanbul Action Plan, the ITU-D has increased its activities related to IP networks and the Internet. Some specific examples of ongoing or planned ITU-D activities include:

  • Regional Internet Protocol Symposium for Americas Region (2005);
  • Regional Internet Protocol Symposium for Arab region (2004);
  • Development of IP Policy Manual in collaboration with TSB (2004);
  • ICT Policy For Cameroon (2004);
  • Regional Internet Protocol Symposium for Eastern Europe CIS and Baltic States (Russian Federation, September 2003);
  • Regional Internet Protocol Symposium for Africa (Rwanda, July 2003);
  • South-South Cooperation and Cost-effective Access to the Internet in Africa (Cameroon, 15-17 July 2003);
  • ICT Policy For Congo Republic (2003);
  • ITU Symposium: African ICT Roadmap to Achieve NEPAD Objectives (Arusha, 1-3 April 2003);
  • The Group of Experts on IP Telephony has published The Essential Report on IP Telephony (2003);[3]
  • ICT Policy for Mauritania (2002);
  • BDT projects using advanced security and trust technologies based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) including biometric authentication, smart cards, ITU-T X.509 digital certificates and digital signature techniques have been deployed and are operational in Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cambodia, Georgia, Peru, Senegal, Paraguay and Turkey;
  • IP Networking and IPv6 for Engineers working in PTOs in the framework of the Centre of Excellence (Mauritania, 19-23 May 2002);
  • IP Technologies and Applications for Arab region (Tunisia, 17-19 June 2002);
  • Sub-regional seminar on Internet and IP telephony Guatemala, (Nov. 2002);
  • ITU/Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA) joint workshop on regional Internet issues in the Pacific, Australia, (Oct. 2001);
  • Sub-regional workshop on Internet and IP telephony, Lima, Peru, (July 2001);
  • Regulatory Reform Unit (RRU)[4] focuses on telecom sector regulatory reform and publishes an annual report on “Trends in Telecommunication Reform”;
  • RRU organizes annual “Gobal Symposium for Regulators (GSR)” allowing the world’s policy makers and regulators to share their different experiences and how they have best fostered the deployment of ICTs;
  • Country case studies on effective regulation and sharing mechanisms between ITU Member States for information and models with regard to independence and operation of regulatory agencies;
  • Internet case studies on how countries have fostered deployment of IP-based networks; [5]
  • Several national workshops and seminars addressing technology strategies for e-security organized in a number of countries (e.g., Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Chile (for Mercusor States), Mongolia, Pakistan, Paraguay and Uzbekistan);
  • With collaboration of UNCITRAL, ITU has provided assistance to the following countries in the elaboration of model legislation covering areas such as electronic commerce, data protection, online transactions, digital certification, authentication, and encryption: ASETA Member States (Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela), Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Mauritania and Mongolia;
  • Source of well-known telecommunication indicators reports and databases (used by World Economic Forum, World Bank, others)[6] and the creation of a new Digital Access Index (DAI) to measure effectiveness of ICT adoption;
  • Internet Training Centres Initiative for Developing Countries (described in Chapter Eight: Case Study—How ITU’s Internet Training Centre Initiatives Provide Capacity Building in Developing Countries).

The ITU-D also has 2 Study Groups considering “Questions” related to Internet Protocol networks:

  • 19/1: Implementation of IP telephony in developing countries;
  • 12-1/2: Examination of broadband communications over traditional copper wires, taking into account certain aspects of technologies, systems and applications;
  • 19/2: Strategy for migration from circuit-switched networks to packet-switched networks;
  • 20/2: Examination of access technologies for broadband communications.


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Updated : 2011-04-04