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Telecommunication Standardization Sector

  Issue No. 32 July 2007  
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 Call for Papers: Innovations in NGN
ITU-T has issued a call for papers for an event - Innovations in Next Generation Networks - to be held in Geneva, 12-13 May 2008, with the technical co-sponsorship of the IEEE Communications Society. The event is the first in a series that will increase the dialogue between academia and experts working on the standardization of information and communications technologies (ICT). Awards will be granted to selected best papers, as judged by the organizing and programme committee. Details will be announced later.

Innovations in NGN is to inspire contributions towards a kaleidoscopic view of communication habits for the future. We know what NGN is in terms of the underlying technology, but we don’t know what services will emerge, how NGN will affect the marketplace for ICT, and how society will be affected. The call for papers lists a number of suggested topics.

Innovations in NGN will bring together new and visionary ideas on the future of NGN. It will highlight technologies, services and applications five years from now that will capitalize on the NGN infrastructure and will lead us to the so-called ubiquitous network society in which information can be accessed anywhere, at anytime, by anyone and anything. The event will also cover multidisciplinary aspects related to the deployment of NGN, including analysis of the regulatory and societal challenges that the deployment of NGN will bring. 

NGN Events
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 New online tool charts cybersecurity standards development
ITU has developed an online tool to keep track of crucial ICT security standards work through a single access point. For the first time, ICT security vendors, service providers, developers, researchers and the public will now have security standards at their fingertips, with one common user interface.

The guide called the ICT Security Standards Roadmap brings together information about existing standards and work in progress by the world’s key standards developers. It is a collaborative effort between ITU, the European Network and Security Information Agency (ENISA) and the Network and Information Security Steering Group (NISSG).

Enhancing security in cyberspace is a matter of critical concern in an increasingly networked society. Crime on the Internet alone has led to losses estimated at several billion dollars, both from online theft and from costs related to fixing networks that have been the victim of cyberattack. Cybercrime takes several forms, from breaching network security, financial fraud, invasion of privacy and identity theft to virus attacks or spam.

"There has never been a greater incentive to revitalize the order and trust in the stability and reliability of communications systems, and standardization in security design for networks is a key prerequisite," said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. "Standards-development bodies have a unique ability to address security vulnerabilities in ICT by bringing together all players. As well as the publication and development of many important security Recommendations, ITU has been behind many open discussions on providing security guidelines to protocol authors and identifying threats and vulnerabilities."

The guide provides information for potential users of security standards and other stakeholders to gain an understanding of what standards are available or under development as well as the key organizations that are working in the area. This web-based tool also lists standards-development organizations and the security standards they publish. Acting as a central tracking facility, it not only enables the identification of standards and standards activities but it also fosters coordination among standardization bodies, reducing duplication of effort and making it easier to identify existing gaps.

The guide, to be developed on an ongoing basis to enhance its scope and include other standard-development organizations, is organized in five sections:
  • ICT standards development organizations and their work
  • Approved ICT security standards
  • Security standards under development
  • Future needs and proposed new security standards
  • Best practices
The standards are in a searchable database format with links to their sources.

The launch of the ICT Security Standards Roadmap follows the announcement last month by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, of the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda. The Global Cybesecurity Agenda is an ambitious two-year plan to curb cybercrime.

Study Group 17 Security
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 ITU-T Expert Group to examine International Telecommunication Regulation
ITU-T is establishing an ''Expert Group'' which will review the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).

The ITRs are an international treaty whose purpose is to promote the development of telecommunication services and their most efficient operation while harmonizing the development of facilities for worldwide telecommunications. The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) was requested by the Plenipotentiary Conference of 2006 to start the review process of the ITRs, which was last updated in 1988. The review is considered appropriate in light of the changing ICT environment characterized by convergence of telecoms, IT, broadcast as well as other industry sectors and also the liberalization of telecoms markets.

The Expert Group will examine the existing ITRs. The output of the ITU-T review will feed into a World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) scheduled for 2012. A different process, the World Telecommunication Policy Form (WTPF), will consider emerging telecommunications policy and regulatory issues with respect to international telecommunication networks and services.

The first meeting of the Expert Group will be held in Geneva, 10-11 October 2007. Information relating to the expert group will be available on the ITU-T website here . Information on the WTPF is available here.

ITRs Study Group 2 Study Group 3
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 Home networking progress in June
At the June 2007 meeting of ITU-T SG 15, work continued on a draft new Recommendation to develop a single international standard for home networking transceivers using any metallic media in the home – phoneline wiring, data cable (e.g. CAT5), coaxial cable or powerline wiring.

 Household connectivity is growing rapidly with more and more electronic devices and networks within the home distributing and using digital information and media. In addition, remote control of lighting, heating, appliance-use and security systems attached to the home are making the "digital home" a reality.

International standards that enable interoperability and security in the field of home networking are seen as key to bringing value and versatility to consumers, making possible the use of diverse products, services and sources, and therefore accelerating market development.

Work in ITU-T is coordinated by the Joint Coordination Activity on Home Networking (JCA-HN). Topics covered across the 13 different Study Groups of ITU-T include digital rights management (DRM), phone-line networking (including co-ax), IPTV, interactive video, set top box architecture and cable modems.

The work on ITU-T Rec - - next generation home networking transceivers - has now attracted a critical mass of contributors/participants with nine companies submitting 20 contributions on various topics. It is anticipated that will be completed in 2008.

Also at the June 2007 meeting of ITU-T SG15, it was agreed to start work on a draft new Recommendation G.hnta on home network transport architecture. The Rec will give a generic architecture based on the NGN functional architecture described in Recommendation Y.2012 “Next Generation Networks – Frameworks and functional architecture models” It will describe a platform for the development of future home network standards. The draft Recommendation G.hnta is complementary to draft Recommendation H.ghna currently under development by SG 16.

Study Group 15 Home Networking Access
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 Multimedia group meets, 23 new standards
ITU-T’s multimedia Study Group 16 met in Geneva, July, with over twenty standards entering the final stage of ITU-T’s approval process. The ITU secretariat says that the meeting saw record numbers of participants and contributions. Work on the use of tag-based identification (including RFID) for multimedia in particular saw great interest and progress.

Key achievements of the meeting include the setting up of new Questions – ITU-T’s term for work area - to advance work on the third generation multimedia system and a second Question on multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV. See separate stories – Third gen multimedia system work accelerates and Question on multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV.

NGN Study Group 16 IPTV
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 Third generation multimedia system work accelerates
A new Question – ITU-T’s term for a work area - to advance work on the third generation multimedia system that will look beyond today's second generation systems and eventually replace the currently used H.323 will start work pending formal approval at the next meeting of Study Group 16.

H.323 is the ITU standard for interoperability in audio, video and data transmissions over IP. It is the most widely used voice over IP (VoIP) and videoconferencing communication protocol worldwide. Systems using H.323 carry billions of voice minutes each month, to an estimated 16% of all international VoIP calls in 2006. The rollout of the next generation network (NGN) will bring with it in a new era of multimedia communications and with it the need for a new multimedia communication system.

In the mid-1990s, the ITU began work on H.323, which quickly became the dominant protocol for LAN-based videoconferencing, as well as a protocol used for transporting voice calls around the world. H.323 was developed in parallel with the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF) Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and was effective in facilitating a migration from circuit-switched networks to packet-switched networks. Sharing similar capabilities and similar design philosophies and being produced in the same time period, H.323 and SIP are classified as second generation systems.

Now, more than 11 years since the introduction of second generation systems, ITU-T SG 16 is again looking toward the future of multimedia systems as the ITU-T also undertakes a study to introduce the next generation network (NGN). The NGN holds the promise of revolutionizing communication as we know it and multimedia will be an important part of any new network technology.

Work on the third generation multimedia system will entail the creation of multiple new ITU-T Recommendations that will specify system architecture, system components, and one or more protocols at the service and application layer. The primary objective is to deliver a new advanced multimedia system that operates on NGN, taking advantage of its features, and will also operate on non-NGN packet-switched networks.

This Question will examine technologies such as various IP technologies, wireless technologies, and distributed computing capabilities in order to realize a system that will enable users to communicate using, as examples, voice and audio, video, electronic whiteboard, application sharing, real-time text, and file transfer across one or more communicating devices (e.g. smart phones, TV set-top boxes, game consoles, handheld game/entertainment machines, digital cameras and Internet “appliances”).

Unlike previous generation systems, this new system will enable independent application developers to create system components that are able to seamlessly interface with the system in order to deliver any one or more of the aforementioned modes of communication. There is a strong desire to move away from the “monolithic applications” that were distinctive of second generation systems, to a system that enables components to “plug in” to the system, either locally or remotely using various wired or wireless technologies, to deliver an enhanced user experience. To meet that objective, this Question will study the various interfaces between these components and the technologies that might be used to tie them together.

The study includes among other subjects:
  • Downloadable codecs
  • System decomposition
  • Discovery of services
  • Support for transcoding functionality (e.g. text to speech)
  • Dynamic device discovery
  • Application plug in
  • Consideration of various business models
  • Integrated QoS, security and mobility functionality
Experts have set deadlines for the Identification of Requirements - Q1/2008, and basic architecture - Q1/2009. 

Study Group 16 Multimedia NGN
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 Question on Multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV
A new Question – ITU-T’s term for work area – on multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV will start work pending formal approval at the next meeting of Study Group 16 .

Experts say that with the surge of multimedia services such as video streaming and the desire to offer IPTV services, the market is in serious need of standardized interoperable solutions, especially at the multimedia applications layer. Interoperability will provide benefit for all the players in the value-chain, especially at the multimedia applications layer, and encourage growth of this market.

This Question is intended to produce deliverables related to study IPTV platforms, including, but not restricted to middleware, applications, content formats and their uses, which will facilitate effective and interoperable use of the IPTV systems. The Question will be the recipient of a number of documents from the IPTV Focus Group and it will assimilate these into its work program with the intention of generating a number of standards (ITU-T Recommendations).

IPTV Study Group 16
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 Future proof G-PON
At the June 2007 meeting of ITU-T SG 15, a Recommendation that helps to future proof gigabit capable passive optical networks (G-PON) was consented.

The Recommendation, G.984.5, defines wavelength ranges which are reserved for additional service signals to be overlaid via wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) in future gigabit capable passive optical networks (G-PON). The Recommendation also specifies the wavelength blocking filters to be implemented in optical network terminations (ONT). These filters, together with the use of the specified wavelength ranges, will enable network operators to upgrade G-PON systems without a break in service to their customers.’  

Study Group 15 Access
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 Standard extends DWDM distance
A second standard in a new group of Recommendations from ITU-T's Study Group 15 extends the distance at which multi-vendor DWDM systems can be deployed from 80 to four or five hundred kilometres.

The first standard in the series gave network operators the ability to deploy multi-vendor dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) systems in a metro environment. The new Recommendation extends this to cover regional environments by taking into account the use of optical amplifiers and their potential to create 'optical noise'.

WDM technology is used by the owners of optical fibres to maximise their capacity. The technology achieves this by simultaneously operating an optical fibre pair at more than one wavelength and uses optical amplification to increase transmission distances as well as optical add/drop multiplexers to increase the flexibility of the network. Since operators wish to maximize their cable plant investments and deploy increasingly bandwidth hungry services in a multi-vendor environment, standards development in this field is seen as crucial.

The Recommendation defines values for single-channel optical interface parameters of physical point-to-point and ring DWDM applications on single-mode optical fibres through the use of the "black-link" approach. The black-links covered by this follow-on Recommendation may contain optical amplifiers.

The transport network of most operators is based on the use of equipment from a variety of different vendors. Previously, for those parts of the network involving DWDM optical transmission, this has been achieved via the use of optical transponders which convert the single channel interfaces like those defined in ITU-T Recs G.957 G.691, G.693, G.959.1 into DWDM wavelengths suitable for the particular vendor’s proprietary system. With the optical interfaces standardized in new G.698.2 operators can directly connect a wide variety of equipment to the DWDM line system without the need for those additional short reach transmitter and receiver pair per channel (eliminating the transponders) with obvious associated cost savings.

Study Group 15 Access
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 New Standard means reduced operating costs
Another step towards all optical networks (AON) has been achieved with the consent of the new Recommendation G.680 by ITU-T's Study Group 15.

The Recommendation will allow operators to take optical add/drop multiplexers (OADMs) and photonic cross-connects (PXCs) from different vendors and integrate them in to an all optical network without having to add expensive optical/electrical/optical conversion (O/E/Os).

This achievement is made possible as the Rec gives operators a way to evaluate the end-to-end quality of a signal where photonic cross-connects (PXC) and optical add/drop multiplexers (OADMs) are deployed. In addition, experts say that the evolution towards an AON could significantly reduce costs for operators by reducing the need for costly optical/electrical/electrical (O/E/O) conversion. As optical transport networks (OTN) evolve, the number of - expensive - O/E/O conversions within their boundaries is coming down.

The two main reasons for the reduction in the number of O/E/O conversions are that DWDM systems are becoming capable of carrying light signals for thousands of kilometers without electrical regeneration and that PXCs and OADMs are becoming available with the capacity, space requirements, power consumption, reliability and cost, suitable for their use in the telecommunication networks. With this evolution experts predict that AONs could extend to all potential routes of the backbone network of a medium size country - optical paths up to around 2,000 km.

The Recommendation defines a "degradation function" of optical network elements (ONEs) such as photonic cross connects (PXCs), optical add-drop multiplexers (OADMs), etc. making up an optical network. It enables the degradation of the signal quality in an all-optical network consisting of ONEs including DWDM line segments to be assessed. 

Study Group 15 Access
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 Popular fibre spec upgraded
An upgrade to a widely used specification for fibre optic cables will allow the simpler deployment of Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) in FTTH applications up to 500 m link distance. The original Recommendation ITU-T Rec G.651 provided specifications for multimode fibre which is currently widely deployed for data communications, but not for telecoms.

The work was initiated given two observations; the cost disparity between telecom and data networks, where high speed GbE telecom equipment is often far more expensive than datacom equipment; and the economics of rolling out FTTH into multi-tenant (apartment) buildings where there is a high subscriber density. Ethernet is increasingly seen as an end-to-end technology.

Similar to recently published Rec G.657 on single mode fibre, Recommendation G.651.1 allows for increased cable flexibility. This increased flexibility in a fibre optic cable means that operators can follow tighter corners in buildings and can worry less if cables / fibres are laid with a sharp bend. This all makes installation work more engineer friendly leading also to less re-work. Moreover the closures for fibres can be half the size, important where space is at a premium especially in multi-tenant buildings.

G.651.1 retains many of the key characteristics of its well known predecessor. However manufacturing tolerances and transmission characteristics have been improved significantly. In addition, it has been harmonized fully with relevant IEC standards.

Study Group 15 Access
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