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ITU-T e-FLASH - Issue No. 27


Telecommunication Standardization Sector

Issue No. 27 October 2006

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 Video Coding Work voted most influential
Over seven hundred people voted for the most influential standards work from ITU-T in a recent poll to celebrate 50 years of CCITT/ITU-T.

The work area receiving the most votes was video coding. The task of video coding is to establish efficient formats for storing and transmitting video data. The work of ITU–T in this field was pioneered in joint projects with the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC).

Gary Sullivan Rapporteur of the group that has led video coding work: “It is a great honor to see our video coding work so highly appreciated. Much of the credit should go to my predecessors in leading the ITU-T video coding work, Sakae Okubo, Richard Schaphorst, and Karel Rijkse, and also to my Associate Rapporteur Thomas Wiegand, as well as to all our contributors and our ISO/IEC collaborators. One key technical contributor I would cite in particular is Gisle Bjøntegaard."

Besides the two video standards that were explicitly mentioned in the poll question (H.262/MPEG2-Video and H.264/AVC), there were several others of substantial importance in the standardization of that field. Specifically, that includes H.120, H.261, and H.263.

I think perhaps our edge over SS7 and other such telephony network standards in the voting was really just a matter of our work being more familiar to most people and perhaps fresher in people's minds. The work of the ITU has been at the heart of developing a reliable world-wide telephony network, and that has been hugely important to us all.”

Signalling System number 7 (SS7) received the second highest number of votes. SS7 is a common channel signalling system that separates network resource control from the resources being controlled. This fundamental shift enabled the implementation of highly efficient centralized databases for call control, especially valuable for services that may be accessed from any subscriber line (Intelligent Networks, 800/Freephone, credit card, VPN, etc.), and an integral capability on which today’s ubiquitous mobile phone systems depend. Among other service supporting capabilities, it enables monitoring the status of a line to see if it is busy or idle, alerts that indicate the arrival of a call, and the addressing system that routes calls.

John Visser, Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 19: "SS7 is felt by many to be a cornerstone technology of modern telecommunications.” Visser describes the group which developed SS7 Recommendations and who were recognized by their peers as ‘Knights of SS7’, as “…a camaraderie… who proudly display the certificates awarded to them as part of this recognition of their efforts.”

Voting results can be seen here.

Study Group 16 Study Group 19 Study Group 11  

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 Creating Virtual Organizations: A Workshop on Telecoms and Grids
ITU-T is hosting a workshop NGN and Grids in collaboration with the Open Grid Forum (OGF) in Geneva, 23-24 October 2006.

Grid computing enables organizations to pool IT resources across departmental and organizational boundaries in a secure, highly efficient manner in order to solve massive computational problems.

Next generation networks (NGN) offer increased quality and service features for users, independent of the underlying transport technology. ITU-T’s Global Standards Initiative on Next Generation Network (NGN-GSI) is well under way and is responding to urgent market needs for global NGN standards.

The workshop will explore how Grids will work in an NGN environment by bringing together experts from both communities.

The telco community is eyeing Grid development with interest. Telcos could use grids internally, for billing and simulations for example but new revenue streams can be foreseen in areas such as managed grid services.

One panel discussion and Q&A will pose the question: “What can Grids do for Telcos and what can Telcos do for Grids?” Other panel discussions will examine NGN management and security.

From a telecoms perspective there are some challenges such as QoS, how to control the network, how to manage dynamic provisioning and how to provide collision-free addresses (IPv4 <-> NAT). It is expected that all of these topics and more will be addressed.

A key result of the event will be a gap analysis of standards in the field and a better understanding of how grids can be catered for in ITU-T’s NGN Release 2. An action plan outlining what work needs to be done, and where can then be developed.

NGN Events    

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 July NGN-GSI event
ITU-T Study Groups meeting under the auspices of the NGN Global Standards Initiative (NGN-GSI), July, finalized a substantial body of work. Sixteen new standards went into the final stages of the ITU approval process in areas including requirements, architecture, QoS and security. Around 650 documents were considered by the lead SG on NGN, Study Group 13, alone. Study Group management reported high levels of participation and good progress.

Two rather fundamental documents describing requirements for NGN and describing the functional architecture of the NGN will be published as ITU-T Recommendations after formal approval. Also, QoS, a crucial element as networks move to an environment inherently more susceptible to delay, interference etc. was a key focus, one new Recommendation was consented in this field.

Experts also point to the importance of a Recommendation (ITU-T Rec. Y.2021) describing how the IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) as specified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) can be used in the NGN context. A Rec. from Study Group 19 on mobility management was also highlighted, see story here.

NGN Study Group 13 Study Group 19  

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 3G video calls: Barrier lifted
A new standard that speeds up video calls on 3G devices has been published by ITU-T.

The new standard, Annex K of Recommendation H.324, also known as media oriented negotiation acceleration (MONA) addresses the problem of long set up times for video calls that many perceive as stalling consumer acceptance. H.324 is used in 3G networks to exchange real-time and bi-directional video traffic.

Without the new technique a typical video session required each end to send up to ten messages to the other terminal, each time waiting for a message to be received and acknowledged before sending the next one. And, if a message was not received, the sending device had to wait and finally time out before retransmitting. This could introduce delays of up to eight seconds according to experts.

MONA follows in the footsteps of another ITU-T standard – reported here – WNSRP (described in Annex A/H.324), which was a first step towards addressing the problem. WNSRP cut delays down to three seconds, while the techniques deployed in MONA will reduce that to one second or less.

Mobile Multimedia Study Group 19  

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 New webpage for internationalized domain names (IDN)
A webpage with information on work progress on internationalized domain names (IDN) charting achievements and acquired knowledge in the field has been published by ITU-T's Study Group 17.

Study Group 17 (Security, languages and telecommunication software) was instructed by Resolution 48 of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Florianópolis, 2004) to study IDN. It is considered that implementation of IDN will contribute to easier and greater use of the Internet in those countries where the native or official languages are not represented in IRA (International Reference Alphabet) characters.

To meet this obligation, Study Group 17 developed new Question 16, Internationalized Domain Names tasked in particular to investigate all relevant issues in the field of IDN. Question 16 was approved at the April 2006 Study Group 17 meeting in Jeju, Korea.

At the Jeju meeting, SG17 drafted a questionnaire which was issued by the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau as a Circular letter to Member States, requesting information on their experiences in the use of IDN.

SG 17 page for Internationalized Domain Names (IDN).

Study Group 17 Naming, numbering and Addressing

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 New mobility standard
The ITU-T Study Group dealing with mobile telecommunication and fixed mobile convergence has published a standard that describes what is needed to give users the ability to access the same set of services irrespective of change in location.

Mobility is a crucial part of the service capabilities within the next generation network (NGN) concept. The ITU-T Recommendation notes: “… with the massive growth in the number of users and the continuing deployment of heterogeneous systems the demand to provide seamless services to the NGN users gets stronger…”.

The Recommendation - Q.1706 - describes the requirements for providing ‘mobility management’, that is the set of functions used to provide mobility. These functions include authentication, authorization, location updating, paging and download of user information. The aim of this work is to build on the current mechanisms in cellular telephone systems and the internet and to move toward homogeneity in handling mobility across the converging telecommunication and computing environments.

The next step for SG 19 will be a Recommendation describing the framework for achieving mobility management based on these requirements. SG management suggests that this work is progressing well and will probably be achieved in time for the next round of approvals targeted to be initiated at a meeting in April 2007.

SG 19 also consented a Recommendation that charts further detail in the evolution within the IMT-2000 Family member using an ANSI-41 core network with cdma2000 access network. Recommendation Q.1742.5 references 3GPP2 work.

Mobile NGN Study Group 19  

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 Fundamental NGN requirements doc finalised
One of the most important ITU-T Recommendations emerging from the SG 13 meeting specifies the high level requirements and associated capabilities for NGN. Defining requirements is a fundamental and essential part of the standards making process. The document outlines the basic foundations necessary for NGN work to progress and, in particular, for supporting the service objectives of NGN Release 1.

So, for example: “The NGN transport stratum [Y.2012] shall use the IP protocol for general, ubiquitous, and global public connectivity. The IP protocol may be carried over various underlying transport technologies in the access and core portions of the transport stratum (eg. xDSL, ATM, MPLS, Frame Relay, OTN) according to the operator’s environment.”

Aligned with the general goals and objectives captured in the ITU’s definition of NGN published in Recommendation Y.2001 the proposed Recommendation (Y.2201), as well as other documents finalized in July, is an updated version of an output from the Focus Group on NGN (FG-NGN), November 2005.

Experts say that it is important to note that NGN standards authors will have used the requirements text agreed in November 2005 as a basis for their work. Publication as an ITU-T Recommendation will give legal (normative) status and has enabled some general refinement as well as updating particularly in the area of regulatory requirements.

NGN Study Group 13    

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 NGN functional architecture described in key Recommendation
Recommendation Y.2012 consented at the July SG 13 meeting describes the functional architecture of the NGN.

The NGN architecture described supports the delivery of services such as multimedia services, conversational services, and content delivery services (eg video streaming and broadcasting).

NGN functional architecture shall incorporate the following principles according to the Rec.:
  • Support for multiple access technologies: The NGN functional architecture shall offer the configuration flexibility needed to support multiple access technologies.
  • Distributed control: This will enable adaptation to the distributed processing nature of packet-based networks and support location transparency for distributed computing.
  • Open control: The network control interface should be open to support service creation, service updating, and incorporation of service logic provision by third parties.
  • Independent service provisioning: The service provisioning process should be separated from transport network operation by using the above-mentioned distributed, open control mechanism. This is intended to promote a competitive environment for NGN development in order to speed up the provision of diversified NGN services.
  • Support for services in a converged network: This is needed to generate flexible, easy-to-use multimedia services, by tapping the technical potential of the converged, fixed-mobile functional architecture of the NGN.
  • Enhanced security and protection: This is the basic principle of an open architecture. It is imperative to protect the network infrastructure by providing mechanisms for security and survivability in the relevant layers.
  • Functional entities should incorporate the following principles:
    • Functional entities may not be distributed over multiple physical units but may have multiple instances.
    • Functional entities have no direct relationship with the layered architecture. However, similar entities may be located in different logical layers.

Along with a new architecture, NGN will bring an additional level of complexity beyond that of existing networks. In particular, support for multiple access technologies and mobility results in the need to support a wide variety of network configurations. Some examples of configurations are provided to provide put in context the architecture description.

Although the scope of the Rec. is primarily NGN architecture, it also takes into account legacy PSTN/ISDN terminals and/or interworking with the PSTN/ISDN which is clearly is an important consideration with respect to NGN deployment. Three additional Recommendations were consented in this area Y.2031, Y.2261 and Y.2271.

NGN Study Group 13    

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 NGN QoS tackled in new ITU standard
ITU-T Recommendation Y.2111, a new standard emerging from the July NGN-GSI meetings addresses a key area of concern in NGN, the ability to offer end-to-end QoS. Crucially it also addresses the need to be able to differentiate multiple services running over the same network.

The Recommendation deals with resource and admission control functions (RACF) which will help enable operators to guarantee end-to-end quality for multimedia services in NGN, for example VoIP and IPTV. Key to the approach is the ability for an operator to specify rules to specific communication types in order that they can better allocate network resources.

With most IP networks today operating under a best-effort system, network congestion can significantly undermine the quality and reliability of more advanced multimedia applications. RACF meets the demand for more intelligent control of packet-based network infrastructures.

The Recommendation defines the related requirements and functional architecture covering aspects such as resource reservation, admission control and gate control, Network Address Port Translation (NAPT) and firewall control, and Network Address Translator (NAT) traversal.

NGN Study Group 13 Study Group 19  

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  Service layer interoperability for GPON highlighted
Interoperability between equipment using the ITU-T Recommendation G.984 for passive optical network (G-PON) has been demonstrated at an independent test laboratory, KTL in Santa Clara, California.

PON technology is used in the local loop to connect residential and SME end users premises in an all-fibre network. The event organized by the Full Service Access Network (FSAN) Group demonstrated service level interoperability between several vendors.

ITU-T Recommendation G.984 enables line rates of 2.5 Gbps in the downstream (central office to customer) and 1.2 Gbps in the upstream (customer to central office) to handle the bandwidth requirements for services like HD IPTV, online-gaming, Ethernet services, VoIP and TDM over fibre. In addition it offers more efficient IP and Ethernet handling.

FSAN together with ITU have hosted a series of B-PON and G-PON interoperability events over the years. The recent event, involved voice, data and IPTV testing between the following system vendors: Calix, Cambridge Industries Group, Entrisphere, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Huawei, Iamba Networks, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Siemens, Terawave. Shenick provided IPTV and data testing with quality of experience (QoE) and performance assessment. Spirent provided its triple play test solution to verify voice, video, and data service performance and functionality with 'real world' scenarios. Corning provided the complete optical distribution network (ODN) for the event, including the optical fibre, cable, splitters, cabinet, terminal distribution system, and connectorized drop cables.

The multi-vendor G-PON systems were used to transport voice, data and IPTV between the optical networking terminals (ONTs) and the optical line terminals (OLTs). Service provisioning of triple-play services was done via the ONT management and control interface (OMCI). Detailed test cases where used to verify quality and performance of services in a multi-vendor environment.

"We are very pleased with the achievement of VoIP and IPTV as well as other services working across a mix of vendor equipment, " said Michael Brusca, Verizon Communications, Chair FSAN Interoperability Task Group." We have overcome the challenge of OMCI interoperability that built on our previous physical layer testing, within a year after specifying its enhancements. G-PON is now mature and ready for mass deployment."

Don Clarke, 21CN chief access designer for BT Wholesale: "We are actively supporting FSAN and the ITU-T in their endeavor to achieve interoperability for GPON equipment. Interoperability will help drive down costs and leverage innovation in the customer termination space."

A public G-PON Interop Showcase is planned for ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 this December in Hong Kong.

Access Study Group 15    

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  Home broadband services demo for SG9 Tokyo meeting
ITU-T Study Group 9 will host a demonstration of technologies for emerging broadband services in the home during its next meeting.

The event will take place at the Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo, October 2 (1600-2000) and 3 (0900-1700), with October 3 being open to the public.

Among the technologies represented are the interactive video, video and VoIP enabled by the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) which is embedded in ITU-T Recommendation J.202 and high-speed pre-DOCSIS 3.0 (ITU-T Recommendation J.122). Internet access; home networking of video and data, service management for a cable quad play (video, wireless, voice and data); multiple advanced video applications and a high-speed broadband download video service.

“This will be a very powerful exhibit of technology enabling advanced broadband capabilities as well as some of the latest broadband applications, many of which are deployed by cable companies in markets around the world,” said Study Group 9 Chairman Dr. Richard R. Green, President and CEO of CableLabs.

Eighteen companies from around the world will be part of the demonstration with an emphasis on technologies that support emerging services in consumers’ households. Among the demonstrating companies are: Alticast, Arcwave, ARRIS International Japan, Arroyo, BigBand Networks, Brix, Digital Keystone, Entropic, Gallery IP, Hitron Technologies, Integra5, J:COM, KDDI Labs, NDS, NEC, PerfTech, Sigma Systems and VectroMAX.

SG 9's meeting will consider new Recommendations for IPCablecom 2.0, DOCSIS 3.0, advanced set-top box for the reception of cable television and other services, and other Internet Protocol services.

Study Group 9 Home Networking  

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 Multicast capability for VoIP
A new standard from ITU-T will give the ability to multicast in VoIP. The feature could be especially useful in order to provide early warnings in disaster scenarios say experts.

ITU-T Recommendation H.460.21 provides a message broadcast mechanism in H.323 systems, which are widely deployed worldwide for Voice over IP (VoIP) communications. This mechanism is akin to that of Cell Broadcast for mobile systems and can be used by network operators and service providers to deliver early warning messages to a large number of users without causing overload of the underlying network infrastructure.

Since the method utilizes standard Internet multicast procedures, the feature may be used on a wide scale to reach any number of H.323 endpoints throughout the world. Thus, the feature could be used to equal effect as an intercom like function in an enterprise or a notification system to geographically dispersed terminals.

Emergency Telecoms Study Group 16 TDR

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 IPTV group completes essential output
ITU-T's work on IPTV took a significant step forward following a meeting Geneva, July 10-14.

IPTV is being explored by media companies and service providers around the world as a way to add value to their existing offerings, and globally accepted standards are seen as essential in order that – for example – a broadcaster in one part of the world can easily distribute content in another.

The meeting of the IPTV Focus Group (FG IPTV) attracted over 150 delegates from the world’s key ICT companies, over 100 input documents were considered, and the first drafts of various output documents agreed. All documents can be viewed on the group’s webpage.

A key output document drafted at the meeting shows the requirements for standardization in IPTV. Establishing this list is an essential part of the standards making process. Also dealt with by the group, and equally as important is outlining what standards already exist.

The meeting approved the establishment of six working groups:
  • Architecture and Requirements
  • QoS and Performance Aspects
  • Service Security and Contents Protection
  • IPTV Network Control
  • End Systems and Interoperability Aspects
  • Middleware, Application and Content Platforms
The next FG IPTV meeting will take place in Busan, Korea, 16-20 October, 2006.

IP TV Focus Groups NGN  

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