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



Like most technology-driven industries, the telecommunication sector has historically been characterized by steady growth punctuated by an occasional leap forward, usually when a new technology is introduced. This historical pattern has repeated in the development of every new communications network technology, beginning with telegraph in the 1840s, the telephone in the 1870s, radio telegraphy or “wireless” in the 1890s, radio broadcasting in the 1920s, television broadcasting in the 1950s, geostationary satellite communications in the 1960s, computer communications in the 1970s, optical communications in the 1980s, and the Internet and mobile communications in the 1990s. For the last 139 years, ITU has adapted to and embraced all new innovations in communication technologies.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, the almost simultaneous arrival of two major innovations—mobile phones and the Internet—not only changed the face of communications, but also gave fresh impetus for economic growth.

This report attempts to give a snapshot view (April 2004) of how Internet Protocol (IP) networks and the Internet, as well as their convergence with other kinds of networks, have impacted on ITU’s activities. In today’s rapidly evolving telecommunications environment, it is difficult to capture all of ITU’s IP-related activities in a complete and comprehensive report. However, the report hopefully provides both a simple overview of ITU for the uninitiated, as well as an overview of the wide scope of ITU’s activities related to IP networks and the Internet.

Chapter One: Background on ITU gives an introduction to ITU, its evolving role, and its overall structure and activities. Chapter Two: Understanding Telecommunication Network Trends explains some recent trends in the telecommunication sector and, in particular, the impact of the almost simultaneous arrival of two major innovations, mobile phones and the Internet. Chapter Three: Overview of ITU Activities Related to Internet Protocol (IP) Networks describes how IP-related technologies have become strategic elements in the design, development and use of many telecommunication networks, which in turn has had a major impact on ITU Sector work programmes in its radiocommunication, telecommunication standardization and development focused-domains. This chapter also describes how decisions taken by ITU Member States have shaped ITU’s mandate related to IP-based networks and the Internet. Chapter Four: Internet Protocol-Related Activities in the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector describes Internet Protocol-related activities in the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector. Chapters Five and Six describe the same for the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector and the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit respectively. Chapter Seven: Case Study—How ITU’s Broadband Standards Improve Access to the Internet provides a practical case study of how ITU standards for broadband are improving access to the Internet, in particular, using Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable modem technologies. Chapter Eight: Case Study—How ITU’s Internet Training Centre Initiatives Provide Capacity Building in Developing Countries is a case study demonstrating how the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector has been assisting developing countries meet their human resource requirements for skilled Internet professionals through Internet and IP-related training programmes established at training and educational institutions throughout the developing world. Chapter Nine: World Summit on the Information Society and ITU Activities looks at how the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action overlap with ongoing or planned ITU activities. Chapter Ten: Summing Up makes some concluding remarks.

ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications, is committed to playing a positive role in the development of the information society and to extending the benefits of advances in new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to all the world’s inhabitants. This is in line with the Resolution of the highest administrative organ of ITU (Resolution 101 of the Plenipotentiary Conference (Minneapolis, 1998)), which calls upon ITU to “fully embrace the opportunities for telecommunication development that arise from the growth of IP-based services”, and subsequent ongoing calls from ITU Member States to continue to actively pursue this objective.



The text of this report was prepared by a team from the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU), the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) and the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB).

The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ITU or its membership.

A revised version of this report will be submitted to the 2004 session of the ITU Council for its review.



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Updated : 2011-04-04