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Telecommunication Standardization Sector

  Issue No. 31 May 2007  
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 Protocols outline QoS for NGN
Study Group 11 meeting in Geneva, end April has consented three important documents charting protocols for quality of service (QoS) in NGN. The protocols will ensure interoperability between network elements and systems as well as giving service providers the ability to specify rules for specific communication types.

The announcement marks a significant step forward for ITU-T’s NGN work. Protocol development is seen as the final stage of standards development following identification of the requirements, architecture, services etc. The Recommendations are a crucial part of the NGN standards package and a concrete realization of the functional architecture defined in ITU-T Rec. Y.2111 - Resource and admission control functions in Next Generation Networks.

The protocols agreed at the April meeting will guarantee that when a service request is made QoS needs are transmitted, ensuring that each network element provisions the correct level of bandwith and resources to ensure the class of QoS for that particular application. So – for example – more bandwidth can be allocated and guaranteed for IPTV than for voice.

The three ITU-T Recommendations include the specification of the physical entities involved in resource control signalling, the interfaces across which signalling takes place, and the mapping between these entities and interfaces and the corresponding functional entities and reference points in ITU-T Rec. Y.2111. An Appendix provides a further mapping between the interfaces and the protocol specifications which realize those interfaces.

The Recommendations refer to signalling used in different geographical parts of the world: ITU-T Recommendation H.248/Megaco used in for example Japan, COPS used for example in China and Diameter which is used in North America.

Another three protocols in the field of resource control were consented by Study Group 11 earlier in the year.

Study Group 11 NGN
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 Online identity work will solve key security issues
The first steps towards a globally harmonized approach to identity management (IdM) have been taken during two meetings bringing together, for the first time, the world’s key players in the IdM space. The meetings of the of the Focus Group on Identity Management (FG IdM) took place in Geneva, February and April. 

Harmonized IdM promises to reduce the need for multiple user names and passwords for each service used, while maintaining privacy of personal information. A global IdM solution will help diminish identity theft and fraud. Further, IdM is one of the key enablers for a simplified and secure interaction between customers and services such as e-commerce. 

Experts report that progress on a gap analysis between existing IdM frameworks now being developed by industry fora and consortiums is well underway. These gaps must be addressed before the interworking and interoperability between the various solutions can be achieved. The aim is to provide the basis for a framework which can then be conveyed to the relevant standard bodies including ITU-T Study Groups.

Observations from the Focus Group are that IdM is being addressed in different silos based on different perspectives, that existing solutions are incomplete, and that there is a need for solutions to interoperate. In order to achieve a global IdM infrastructure, current and future networks will require additional identity related capabilities (e.g., discovery of identity attributes, advertisement of identity attributes). In some cases, gateways or new protocols will be needed to achieve seamless interoperability among the identity capabilities that are embedded in networks, especially those in legacy systems where the opportunity to add identity capabilities will be limited.

Experts at the meetings concurred that interoperability between existing IdM solutions will provide significant benefits such as increased trust by users of on-line services as well as cybersecurity, reduction of SPAM and seamless “nomadic” roaming between services worldwide.

Abbie Barbir, chairman of the FG IdM: “We have had two meetings and achieved very good progress with great participation from major players. The participation of all key players in this area is imperative if we are to achieve our objectives. And so I am very pleased with our achievements so far. The FG will continue its various efforts in the area and further collaboration with major players including ITU-T and alliances in the IDM space is planned.”

The meetings of the FG IdM brought together developers, software vendors, standards forums, manufacturers, telcos, solutions providers and academia from around the world to share their knowledge and coordinate their IdM efforts. Interoperability among solutions so far has been minimal. One conclusion of attendees is that cooperation is crucial and that players cannot exist in isolation. The spirit of the meeting was that everyone will gain by providing an open mechanism that will allow different IdM solutions to communicate even as each IdM solution continues to evolve. Such a “trust metric” does not exist today experts say. 

Work will continue online and during Focus Group meetings in May, and July. ITU-T has a long history of innovation in this field, with key work on trusted, interoperable identity framework standards including Recommendation X.509 that today serves as the primary “public key” technical mechanism for communications security across all telecom and internet infrastructures. 

Cybersecurity Focus Groups NGN
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 ISO, IEC and ITU agree on common patent policy
The world’s leading international standards organizations have adopted a harmonized approach to address the inclusion of patented technology in standards. IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and ITU, under the banner of the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), have aligned their policies which allow for commercial entities to contribute the fruits of their research and development (R&D) activity safe in the knowledge that their intellectual property rights are respected.

In today’s commercial world, especially in information and communication technologies (ICT), there is significant investment in R&D activity. A solid patent policy provides crucial investment protection while also opening-up intellectual property resources for broad implementation across the industry.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU: "ITU’s standards-setting work is closely linked with innovation and new research. Today, it is difficult to develop technical standards without implicating patents. On the other hand, we have to take into account the interests of end-users. Therefore a balance must be found. We believe that this policy will encourage industry to share its intellectual property with implementers of standards on a reasonable basis knowing that their interests will be protected."

Alan Bryden, Secretary-General of ISO: "The fine-tuning of this policy to achieve exactly the right balance — ownership versus sharing of intellectual property — is no small achievement. In this way we enable International Standards to be used to successfully disseminate innovation, with a clear set of guidelines regarding the disclosure of and commitment to license the use of patented technologies. It is an excellent example of the co-operation between the three WSC partners."

Aharon Amit, IEC General Secretary: "International standards developed by ISO, ITU and IEC provide a practical solution to many of the challenges faced by business in today’s increasingly global markets. Industry has been seeking a common approach to patents from the world’s leading standards developers. I am pleased that the increased collaboration between the World Standards Cooperation partners has led to the development of this common policy which will ultimately benefit end-users and industry."

The policy adopted by the three organizations strongly encourages the disclosure of patented technology which is necessary for the implementation of a standard before the standardization process has been completed. It allows for companies’ innovative technologies to be included in standards as long as such intellectual property is made available under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions. In addition, IEC, ISO and ITU have jointly adopted Guidelines for the Implementation of the Common Patent Policy and a Patent Statement and License Declaration Form.

Each of the three WSC organizations also has an online patent database to facilitate the work of the standards developers and to assist companies wishing to implement international standards/recommendations that include patented technologies.

Cooperation IPR
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 Mobile telephony charges initiative
Analysis that aims to narrow the difference between fixed and mobile call termination charges will have to go deeper, say delegates to the recent Study Group 3 meeting. Following a more in-depth analysis of the results of two questionnaires issued by SG 3 and answers to some new questions posed to operators worldwide they should be able identify charges that are too high, and negotiate better rates that will in the long term benefit customers and operators alike.

Initial analysis shows that while call termination charges are significantly higher for mobile than for fixed line telephony, they are dropping. There seems to have been a particularly marked decrease in Europe where at the time of the first questionnaire, reflecting the situation 1 January 2006, charges were as much as ten times higher for mobile termination. The second questionnaire, reflecting the situation 1 January 2007, showed charges reduced to three times higher than fixed. However since the respondent groups to the two surveys were not exactly the same the results have not been formally adopted by the Study Group.

In order to get a better picture, it will be necessary, say experts, to understand more on the conditions of the service being offered, for example teledensity (that’s the number of telephones per 100 individuals), the type of technology used and whether or not the market is fully competitive. For this reason a third questionnaire will be issued covering the same period as the second.

Termination charges occur when calls are terminated in a network other than that from which they have originated. The goal of the analysis is to develop target rates that can give guidelines to operators. Given target rates it will be easier in areas where there is a big difference between fixed and mobile termination charges to negotiate better rates.

A similar exercise was undertaken for fixed line termination charges in the nineties and resulted in reduced charges.

Study Group 3 TAF Developing Countries
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 Workshop on "networked car" at Geneva Motor Show
The Fully Networked Car workshop held during the Geneva Motor Show closed, Friday 9 March, with participants and speakers declaring the event a great success. 191 people participated in the event according to the organizers.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, underlined his commitment to working with other standards bodies at the opening of the Fully Networked Car event in Geneva. "We are now placing great emphasis on bringing together the various standards bodies to avoid duplication of effort and to address convergence in areas such as the one addressed in this workshop,” he said. “That is why I am so pleased to have had the cooperation of ISO and IEC in the organization of this workshop."

The workshop (accompanied by an exhibition on 6-10 March) was the latest initiative organized by the three partner organizations of the World Standards Cooperation (WSC): IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ITU (International Telecommunication Union), and ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden remarked: “Following the previous workshops that we have organized with IEC and ITU on health technologies and the digital home, this workshop on the fully networked car is another example of the initiatives we have taken in the area of converging technologies."

The workshop addressed the market for information and communication technologies (ICT) in motor vehicles, which represents an ever-increasing share of innovation and added value in the automotive sector. The “fully networked car", taking full advantage of ICT for vehicles and road transport systems, is expected to offer a range of benefits including improved safety, reduced traffic congestion and pollution, and a smoother driving experience.

The WSC event provided a forum for the key specialists in the field, from top decision makers to engineers, designers, planners, government officials, regulators, standards experts and others. It helped to identify how and which standards can speed the development of the fully networked car and its introduction into the market.

Study Group 12 Cooperation Workshops
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 Multimedia in NGN
ITU-T will hold a Workshop on Multimedia in NGN, Geneva, 10-11 September.

Multimedia applications and services are migrating towards a single converged user-centric communications network.

The “internet of things” represents one of the key challenges for NGN standardization. This migration, or evolution, has been recognized in ITU-T and a number of initiatives have started for the development of global standards in specific areas like IPTV, GRID, networked aspects of identification (including RFID aspects), sensor networks and more.

An aim of the NGN is to provide the necessary service capabilities to support present and future multimedia applications and services.

This workshop will contribute to the NGN vision of supporting future multimedia services and applications, and will facilitate experience and knowledge sharing between the NGN community, multimedia service and application experts. The various sessions will identify future developments at the service and application level and their impact on NGN capabilities.

The workshop will investigate future trends driven by technology and business needs in the area of multimedia services and applications, including those resulting from fixed-mobile-broadcast convergence.

Study Group 16 Study Group 17 Study Group 19 NGN
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 The Global Telecommunications Data Dictionary
Study Group 4 has consented a set of Recommendations on data definitions for terminal users of operational support systems. These definitions will allow operators to communicate more efficiently on operational matters, such as service orders and orders about network routing arrangements.

According to developers of the Global Telecommunications Data Dictionary (GTDD) (ITU-T Recommendations M.1401-10), the data definitions use an approach that is different from current conceptual approaches to define data communication interfaces. The GTDD approach will be more intuitive for end-users, in this case the operations staff in telcos.

The data definitions given in the GTDD may be used to develop XML schemas for exchange of data about telecoms networks and services between network operators. The GTDD defines data for end user interfaces and supports data communication to/from management applications.

Experts said that much of the data needed by NGN is defined not only for management but also for the execution of services. Definition of service management is critical for NGN, because it deals with interfaces that will be used by service platforms like IMS. Another use for GTDD is inventory management experts said.

Study Group 4 NGN
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 ITU/IEEE Carrier class Ethernet event
ITU-T and the IEEE will hold a workshop on carrier-class Ethernet, 31 May - 1 June.

Much work has been done in both organisations to progress Ethernet, developed as an enterprise technology, into a carrier service. The event will focus on opportunities for further collaboration.

Long-recognized as the ubiquitous LAN technology, Ethernet is now seeing increased attention as a carrier-grade service. In part this is due to the convenience of being able to simply provide end-to-end service, but also carriers can realize savings both in terms of capital and operational expenditure.

Ethernet services are becoming popular because they allow carriers to offer considerably improved flexibility to customers through a much simpler and lower cost interface. Ethernet allows users to specify exactly how much bandwidth they want between the 10Mbit/s and 1Gbit/s range currently offered. Further, Ethernet provides reduced operation complexity and improved scalability for carriers. And as operators look to NGN and the use of the Internet Protocol (IP), Ethernet is seen as the best fit, especially given the rise of such services as IP VPNs, VLANs and dedicated Internet access.

The event will start with an overview of the standards work from ITU-T and IEEE and will then drill down into detail with sessions focusing on: Ethernet based and Ethernet capable access networks; Ethernet network transport; Ethernet Bridging architecture; Ethernet OAM and management; Ethernet QoS, timing and synchronization. A closing session will bring together reports from all of the session chairs in order to identify the direction of future work.

Cooperation IPR Developing Countries
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 Call for IPTV Papers
Two vice chairs of ITU-T’s IPTV Focus Group will guest edit an upcoming issue of IEEE Communications Magazine. Chae-Sub Lee, of ETRI, Korea and Simon Jones, of BT, UK will edit the issue for publication February 2008.

A call for papers has been issued on the broad topic IPTV Systems, Standards and Architectures. Papers are solicited on topics including IPTV standards progress, architecture for IPTV systems, deployment challenges, performance considerations, content management and security. Articles should be tutorial in nature, further guidelines can be found here.

IPTV Focus Groups
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