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ITU-T e-FLASH - Issue No. 11


Telecommunication Standardization Sector

Issue No. 11 December 2004


 Bonded DSL Broadens Broadband
ITU has developed specifications that will allow DSL service providers worldwide to offer considerably faster broadband to users. 

The standards allow the combining of two or more of the traditional copper telephone lines used for DSL, to transport data from the service provider to a single subscriber. This will allow consumers or businesses with more than one telephone line to benefit from the combined bandwidth of all lines - a feat not previously possible. 

Many operators see the standards as crucial given the push towards more and more bandwidth hungry services. Multiple wire solutions - where the wire is already in place - are often seen as a cheaper solution than rolling out new fiber. It's a way of leveraging existing infrastructure, while maximizing customer service. 

The concept - known as bonding - has seen much interest in countries where two or more lines are common. It is seen by many operators as a way of guaranteeing the triple play of voice, video and data services over DSL. While video is theoretically possible over DSL, in practice it has been difficult to provide to all premises - especially where those premises are far from the exchange. (the G.998 series of Recommendations) simply increases the data rate in proportion to the number of lines that are bonded. So two bonded lines will double the data rate for both the upstream and downstream. Likewise three bonded lines will triple the data upstream and downstream rate, and so on. This is independent of the DSL technology (ADSL, VDSL etc.).

Yoichi Maeda, NTT Corporation and Chairman of the Study Group that authored the specs: " will allow the aggregation of bandwidth from more than one telephone line. Bonded DSL lines are the key to offering consumers bandwidth hungry applications like video and gaming. It is also an ideal way to offer higher bandwidth to businesses." 

The three different flavours of offer multiplexing of various service data streams (Ethernet, ATM, TDM) over multiple DSL links.

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 Video Spec Tools-Up for Higher Definition
The increasingly important new video compression codec H.264/AVC has been enhanced by the development of a new set of coding tools known as the fidelity range extensions (FRExt). 

While supporting a broad range of applications, the previously-available H.264/AVC tools focused more on lower-resolution entertainment-quality video, rather than the kind of high resolutions needed for top-quality entertainment and studio work. The new FRExt extensions are designed to be used for applications such as standard-definition and high-definition television, enhanced DVD video, content contribution, content distribution, post-production processing, and studio video editing.

Industry has been quick to embrace the new tools. The new "high profile" defined in FRExt appears certain to be incorporated into several important application specifications, including the BD-ROM specification of the Blu-ray Disc Association and the DVB (digital video broadcast) standards for European broadcast television. The high profile is also a strong candidate for consideration for the HD-DVD specification of the DVD Forum and in a new broadcast TV specification of the US ATSC (advanced television systems committee).

Indeed, it appears that the new "high profile" may rapidly overtake the existing "main profile" as the primary standard codec candidate for new video applications. Experts suggest that this is because the high profile adds more coding efficiency without adding a significant amount of implementation complexity.

Additionally, and at the same meeting of Study Group 16, agreement was reached on a conformance testing specification for H.264/AVC. This will allow potential purchasers and manufacturers to ensure that all equipment designed to use the video coding standard will work properly together. To this end reference software has also been designed by the Study Group to allow users to establish and test for conformance and interoperability, and to educate users and demonstrate the capabilities of the standard.

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 Study into Electrical Interference for Home Networks
The ITU-T group that looks at protection against electromagnetic effects – Study Group 5 – has started work in an area important to the development of home networking technology.

As more technologies emerge to allow the exchange of data within the home and small business environment, it has become necessary to address the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of these devices and networks. Standardization will help to create safe interworking between the various technologies.

The increased use of broadband services has led to the development of a number of different wireless (eg WLAN and DECT) and wireline technologies (eg LAN as well as technologies designed to exploit existing telephone extension and power distribution wiring) to interconnect a variety of in-home electronic and electrical equipment (such as TV, PC and other household devices). And, these techniques introduce many new EMC issues.

The group aims to create standards that relate to the EMC, resistibility and safety issues in home networks. 

Study group members will seek to characterise the electromagnetic environment created by the close proximity and use of different items of household electrical and electronic equipment (such as TV, VCR, DVD, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, CD, Hi-Fi, satellite set-top box etc.), and technologies designed to re-use existing infrastructure, including power distribution cabling (in house-PLC (power line communication) systems), telephony extension wiring, radio LAN systems, xDSL systems over internal telephony grade wiring and LAN technologies. With this information guidelines can be drawn-up that will allow the safe interworking of all.

Study Group 5 plans to hold a technical session on home networks at its next meeting, June 2005, Geneva.

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 MPLS Recommendation Aids Move to Wider Network
ITU has consented a new Recommendation (G.8110/Y.1370) that aims to progress the development of multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) in order that it can be used in a wider variety of network environments.

MPLS emerged as a "packet based network helper" to manage network layer traffic, but is now being seen as more general transport infrastructure. Importantly MPLS gives the ability to provide connectivity across any type of transport infrastructure. This and other characteristics allow convergence toward a simplified network structure that reduces network management and operational complexity.

The standardization work has been driven by network operators keen to integrate MPLS into their wider transport infrastructure. Many see this as a way to bring down costs by increasing efficiency. MPLS for example provides a single framework for managing quality of service (QoS).

The work undertaken by ITU-T Study Group 15 describes the architecture of MPLS in a manner that is consistent with other ITU transport network technologies.

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 Action on Standards for the Developing World
In view of a mandate given by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) to all ITU-T study groups, Study Group 16 has drawn up a draft action plan to support the involvement of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in its work. The mandate was given in order that ITU-T's standardization work continues to address the digital divide between rich and poor countries. Study Group 16's move will ensure that developing countries' needs are taken into account in the development of standards in the field of multimedia, terminals, systems and applications. 

One action identified by the group is to include in its studies, the specific requirements of these countries. In order to do this, the group will seek to better engage experts from these areas, and organize workshops there. Additionally it was agreed that development work should start on handbooks and guidelines specifically addressing developing countries' needs. 

A concrete example of how developing countries' needs are taken into account in the development of standards is Study Group 16's work on modem over IP technology. MoIP essentially helps bridge the gap between modems and the IP world by allowing the continued use of dial-up modems in all IP networks. This is important in the developing world where broadband is not a realistic proposition for most users. Another example is ITU's H.323 standard for interoperability in audio, video and data transmissions over IP that has facilitated many applications that are useful for developing countries. Videoconferencing aided by H.323 has been essential in the development of e-health applications. And VoIP, also aided by H.323, is proving to be a popular way of reducing call costs.

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 New Study Group Chairs Meet for the First Time Since WTSA
November saw the first meeting of newly elected or re-elected study group chairmen for the new study period. 

Study group chairmen are representatives of the membership of ITU who head-up the various standardization work areas.

Decisions on the chairs were taken at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-04) in October. This was the first high-level operational meeting since then. Discussion centered on the best way to proceed given decisions made at the event. These include 14 new resolutions, which can be seen here.

Much of the focus of the meeting was on ensuring that ITU-T maintains its quick time to market for standards, in order to meet industry needs. Topics for discussion included closer coordination between study groups, particularly where NGN work is concerned, collocation of meetings to facilitate better participation, cooperation between standards development organizations (SDOs) and forums, the creation of tutorial material for newcomers and the creation of regional groups. Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), Houlin Zhao, encouraged chairmen to increase regional presence, saying that he would engage ITU regional offices in support of this aim, which he hopes will also help to bridge the standardization gap between the developed and the developing world. The formation of a 'technology watch' was discussed as well as how best to promote the work of ITU-T.

The make-up of the group reflects the diversity of membership of ITU-T and especially its global reach. It consists of: Study Group 2, Ms. Marie-Thérèse Alajouanine, Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications, France; Study Group 3, Mr. Ki-Shik Park, Centre Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), Korea; Study Group 4, Mr. David J. Sidor, Nortel Networks, USA; Study Group 5, Mr. Roberto Pomponi, Telecom Italia Lab (TILAB), Italy; Study Group 6, Mr. Francesco Montalti, Telecom Italia, Italy; Study Group 9, Mr. Richard Green, Cable Television Laboratories, Inc., USA; Study Group 11, Mr. Yukio Hiramatsu, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), Japan; Study Group 12, Mr. Jean-Yves Monfort, France Telecom, France; Study Group 13, Mr. B.W. Moore, Lucent Technologies, UK; Study Group 15, Mr. Yoichi Maeda, NTT Corporation, Japan; Study Group 16, Mr. Pierre-André Probst, Swisscom SA, Switzerland; Study Group 17, Mr. Herbert Bertine, Lucent Technologies Inc., USA; Study Group 19, Mr. John Visser, Nortel Networks, Canada; TSAG, Mr. Gary Fishman, Lucent Technologies Inc., USA.

Marie-Thérèse Alajouanine is the first female chair of an ITU-T Study Group (there are three female vice-chairs). In light of the new resolution 'mainstreaming gender in ITU-T activities', TSB Director, Mr Zhao encouraged all chairs to try and increase the participation of women in ITU-T activities.

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 Management Tools Designed for ASON
At a busy Study Group 15 meeting, experts agreed a new Recommendation (G.7718) to provide management support for automatically switched optical network (ASON) installations. 

The specifications have become necessary as ASON moves from the lab to installations in the real world. As one expert put it, ‘a condition of the deployment of a new technology is the ability to manage it’. The same expert says that he believes ASON to be on the radar of most operators. 

The aim of ASON is to provide quick and reliable service activation to service platforms like switches and routers. ASONs give operators a way to dynamically manage network traffic away from points of failure, for example. Operators see ASON as a more efficient way of provisioning services, so providing a better quality of service to their customers. 

ASON management standards will allow the development of software to manage this architecture. 

The Recommendation follows the principles laid out in ITU’s telecommunication management network (TMN) specifications (ITU-T Recommendation M.3010) and the ASON architecture specification (G.8080). 

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 Products and Services - ASN.1 Database
The ASN.1 database is an invaluable, but free, source of machine-processable ASN.1 modules for developers. It lists all modules in ITU-T Recommendations and related ISO, IEC and IETF texts.

ASN.1 is an extremely important part of today's network topology. The database is designed to assist those that use the formal language for protocol specification or systems design. Ratified as a standard in 1984, ASN.1 is used, for example, in the signalling system (SS7) for most telephone calls, package tracking, credit card verification and digital certificates and in many of the most used software programs. It is also widely deployed by electrical utilities to remotely control substations. Every time that you place an 800-number call, messages that are described by ASN.1 are exchanged between the switching machine and the network database to route the call to the correct common carrier and local phone number to which the 800-number maps. And when supplementary services are used, such as reverse charging, closed user groups, and international calling card verification, the messages are encoded using ASN.1. Latest uses of the industry shaping specification language include incorporation in biometrics specifications, the practice of verifying identity based on a physiological or behavioural characteristic, such as fingerprints, handwriting or retinal scans.

The frequently updated database is searchable using module name, object identifier (OID) or ITU-T, ISO, IEC or IETF catalogue number. One feature of the database tracks errors in modules contained within these documents to ensure trouble free implementation. A hyperlinked index of ASN.1 module assignments as well as a dependence tree of modules for each document is also available. 

A recent addition to the family of ITU-T's ASN.1 tools is a UUID (universally unique identifier) generator donated by France Telecom. This allows users to generate UUIDs that can be used for a variety of tasks including tagging objects with an extremely short lifetime and reliably identifying very persistent objects across a network. This feature is a direct application of ITU-T Rec. X.667 | ISO/IEC 9834-8.

Similar databases are available for other formal languages including MIB and XML. ITU-T also plans to develop databases for other formal languages used in ITU-T Recommendations.

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Updated : 2004-12-13