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Project M.3 of Global Information Infrastructures (M.3 GII)

Presentation of the issues

Electronic commerce may be defined as the ability to perform transactions involving the exchange of goods or services using electronic tools and techniques. It may include such actions as advertising, browsing through a catalog, purchasing, negotiating, billing, paying, exchanging commercial or technical documents, and may also feature broker functions. It is thus a very broad domain in which studies, experiments and specific implementations already exist and will be used as background.

Because telecommunication systems are needed for electronic commerce, ITU is concerned with this subject and has been called upon to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on electronic business with ISO, IEC and UN/ECE. The coordination of the work for the MoU within ITU-T has been allocated to SG16 in conjunction with GII Project M.3.

The scope of the actions planned in the project will only encompass areas not already covered elsewhere and in which the participants have the expertise for bringing useful complements, such as security features. They will also try to harmonize and generalize specifications that have been designed for limited segments of business activities.

A large part of the communications will certainly go through the Internet, but other transport facilities may also be involved. Security and reliability are essential features for electronic commerce and will have to be carefully studied within the project.


To obtain a complete set of standards insuring reliable and secure transactions for electronic business, either by using existing standards or by developing new standards when necessary.

To harmonize the specifications applicable across different segments of business activities.

To make these standards available to all parties involved in electronic business and in particular to developing countries.

Project description

Electronic commerce is a broad application expected to be accessed from a variety of terminals across different networks. Its main requirements are:

The work will be conducted in cooperation by several Study Groups, each for the relevant aspects of electronic commerce that fall within its mandate. It will also involve the work of the other standardization bodies as appropriate. The following activities are envisaged:

Lead body

ITU-T SG 16 (Question C/16)


Mr. Fred LUCAS


Collaborating bodies

ITU-T SG 3, 4, 13, 17, ISO, IEC, UN/ECE, IETF, SETCo

ITU-T Questions involved

Study Group Question Title of the Question Rec.
SG 4 Q.9/4 Requirements for the TMN X-interface  
  Q.12/17 Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1)  
SG 17 Q.9/17 Directory services and systems X.500-series
  Q.10/17 Security services, mechanisms and protocols  
  Q.26/17 Open Distributed Processing (ODP)  
SG 11 Q.4/11 API/object interface and architecture for signalling  
SG 13 Q.16/13 Telecommunication architecture for an evolving environment Y.130
SG 16 Q.B/16 Multimedia architecture  
  Q.C/16 Multimedia applications and services  
  Q.D/16 Interoperability of multimedia systems and services  
  Q.G/16 Security of multimedia systems and services  
  Q.5/16 Mobility for multimedia systems and services  
SSG – IMT2000 Q.5/SSG Handbook on IMT-2000  

Relevant existing Standards

RFCs pertaining to HTTP

Recommendations on security features:

X.900 series on Open distributed systems

H.300-series Recommendations on audiovisual terminals:

Current work activities, deliverables and time-scales

Refer to ITU-T SGs consolidated work plans and to the MEDIACOM 2004 Project.

SG 16 Work plan

Organization of the project

The project should be split into several work areas for which the responsibility will be allocated to different SGs. For instance a possible distribution could be:

Area 1 Coordination
Area 2 General framework
Area 3 Security
Area 4 Protocols
Area 5 Service management
Area 6 Supporting software