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Home : ITU-T Home : Study Groups : Study Group 3 : International Internet Connectivity
ITU-T Study Group 3 Special Projects and Issues
International Internet Connectivity
1. Study of International Internet Connectivity (1998-2000)

Study Group 3 started examining the international Internet connectivity issue in the year 1998. The objectives of study were, at that time, to identify the differences between the Internet and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) costing models. Study Group 3 agreed that the PSTN costing model was inappropriate. Discussion on whether the existing private lease model is the right model highlighted two different views and no consensus was reached within the Study Group 3. The Study Group 3 was also unable to develop an agreed set of principles on the equitable cost compensation between circuit providers.

In early year 2000, the Regional Tariff Groups have worked on the international Internet Connectivity and developed a basic principle from which it would be possible in the future to develop a more details of principles. The draft Recommendation developed by the Regional Groups called for respect for the principle of fair trade, which was already applied in all other service sectors.

In June 2000, Study Group 3 attempted to gain agreement on the proposal made by the above mentioned Regional Tariff Groups but failed due to differing views on policy. It therefore decided to submit the draft Recommendation to the Sector’s governing body, the World Telecommunication Development Assembly (WTSA-2000) to be held in September 2000.

2. World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Montreal, Canada)

The discussions on this very contentious issue found a positive outcome on the last day of the Assembly. The purpose of the recommendation is to set out the principle according to which there should be bilateral agreement when two providers establish a circuit between two countries for the purpose of carrying Internet traffic. The possible need for compensation between the providers has also been recognized. When providers install Internet circuits, they generally have a choice between the "sender-keeps-all" or peering system of bilateral connections when traffic is more or less balanced, or the asymmetrical system whereby the initiating provider pays for the whole connection with the other country (full-circuit cost).

The Recommendation D.50 endorsed by the WTSA, which represents a very delicate balance between the various interests, calls for arrangements to be negotiated and agreed upon on a commercial basis when direct Internet links are established internationally. The Recommendation D.50 requires only that the two providers involved reach a mutual agreement and does not prescribe any particular formula or system, thus leaving to providers their freedom to determine the forms or methodologies to be used in implementing the principle.

The Recommendation D.50, which is voluntary, suggests that parties involved take into account the possible need for compensation for elements such as traffic flow, number of routes, geographical coverage and the cost of international transmission among others when negotiating such commercial arrangements. In addition, the Assembly agreed that while international Internet connections remain subject to commercial agreements between operating agencies, there is a need for on-going studies in this area. The Chairman recalled that the decision made in Montreal provided a framework for future discussions and was therefore only the beginning of a process where issues would be further analyzed. Two countries - the US and Greece - made reservations and stated that they would not apply it in their international charging arrangements.

The full text of the Recommendation D.50 can be found by clicking here.

3. Study Group 3 further work during 2000-2004

After WTSA-2000, Study Group 3 decided to conduct further study on the technical and economic development related to the international Internet connectivity and to consider the need to propose the development of general principles that may be relevant to bilateral commercial agreement.

Study Group 3 decided to establish two Rapporteur Groups. The first Rapporteur Group on International Internet Connectivity (IIC) is in charge of developing further guidelines for facilitating the implementation of Recommendation D.50 and the second Rapporteur Group is in charge of examining the possibility of using traffic flow as a main factor of negotiation for IIC.

Based on the proposals from those Rapporteur Groups, Study Group 3 adopted a guideline [ ] which complements Recommendation D.50. However, the study on the traffic flow methodology has not concluded and the work continues.

Study Group 3 also agreed that the high costs of the international circuit for Internet connectivity between least developed countries and the Internet backbone networks remains a serious problem for these countries. The joint rapporteurs’ group thought it appropriate to recommend special actions in this respect to the international donor community to be undertaken in possible collaboration with ITU’s development sector. These special actions could include efforts to facilitate the creation of traffic aggregation within localities, countries or within regions in developing countries in order to avoid the sending of this traffic over satellite or cable links used for intercontinental traffic, for example between Africa and Europe or North America. This effort would aim to maximise the retention of local and national traffic within these regions and thus reduce the dependence on international communications links.

It was furthermore suggested that there is a need to help the development and use of the Internet in many developing and in particular in the least developed countries, in order to ensure new economic and social growth; the lack of human resources capable of using and producing local content for example to generate the use of the Internet for electronic commerce is another very important problem. The joint rapporteurs’ group proposes that the ITU starts work on ensuring that existing or new economic and social development programmes be refocused to devote available resources to help resolve the human resource problem.

Work since 2005

Study Group 3 has continued to study the matter of International Internet Connectivity. Revisions to Recommendation D.50 were approved in October 2008 and April 2011.

There was considerable work in SG3 after 2008 regarding the question of whether or not—and if yes how—to use measurement of IP traffic flows in connection with billing for International Internet connections.

Proposals have been submitted to the effect that that the traffic flows referred to in D.50 should be measured by using data that can be obtained from routers using the BGP protocol, that is, by using the traffic flow data of BGP routers.

The matter was explored in some detail at a workshop on 24 March 2011 and in April 2011 a Supplement to Recommendation D.50 was adopted, on General Considerations for traffic measurement and options for International Internet Connectivity.
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Updated : 2013-02-27