- ITU study groups are venues for ITU members to work collaboratively in responding to the priorities of the ITU membership. Each ITU study group is responsible for progressing ITU work in a specific field of ITU's mandate. These groups develop the technical basis for ITU agreements and associated activities.
- ITU brokers consensus on the international treaties, technical standards and associated reports that guide the coordinated development and application of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The specialized nature of ITU's work calls for the participation of thousands of experts representing government, industry and academia. These experts carry out their work in ITU study groups.
- ITU's work is organized into three Sectors,
ITU-T (Standardization) and
ITU-D (Development). The mandates and leadership teams of each Sector's study groups are decided by the Radiocommunication Assembly (RA), the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) and the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), the governing bodies of ITU-R, ITU-T and ITU-D, respectively. Regional groups within ITU-T study groups assist in ensuring that ITU standards meet the needs of all regions.
What are the main objectives of ITU study groups?
ITU-R study groups develop the technical basis for decisions taken at the World Radiocommunication Conference, the body responsible for the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. ITU-R outcomes also address the issue of interference among different radio services as well as describing new radio technologies. Upon agreement of Member States, in ITU-R, some Recommendations become binding if incorporated into the Radio Regulations by reference.
ITU-R and ITU-T study groups both develop international technical standards known as ITU Recommendations. Conformance with these standards is voluntary unless such conformance is mandated by national law or regulations, or the Radio Regulations.
ITU-D study groups offer a platform for ITU members to share experiences, exchange views and build consensus on appropriate strategies to address ICT development priorities, guiding associated policies, strategies, projects and ICT initiatives in ITU Member States.
What are the subjects addressed by ITU study groups?
ITU-R study groups address issues including the efficient management and use of the radio-frequency spectrum and orbit resources, radio systems' characteristics and performance, spectrum monitoring, emergency radiocommunications for public protection and disaster relief, interference-free radiocommunications, radio and TV broadcasting, and new radio technologies.
ITU-T study groups address operational aspects of ICT service provision; economic and policy issues; environment and circular economy; broadband cable and TV; conformance and interoperability; protocols and test specifications; performance, quality of service and quality of experience (QoS/QoE); future networks and cloud; transport, access and home networks; multimedia, accessibility and e-health; content delivery platforms; security; the Internet of Things; and smart cities.
ITU-D study groups address the enabling environment for ICT development, considering factors including policy and regulatory frameworks and related national strategies. They also study ICT services and applications with potential to support sustainable development.
How many ITU study groups are there?
ITU study groups are renewed every four years. The number of ITU study groups changes over time, as study groups are established or disbanded. The authority to establish or disband ITU study groups rests with the governing body of the respective Sector.
How are study groups formed?
Study groups are usually formed by the consensus decisions of the governing body of the respective Sector (RA, WTSA and WTDC), at the request of the ITU membership. A Sector's advisory group (RAG, TSAG and TDAG) may however establish or disband an ITU study group between meetings of the Sector's governing body, if authorized to do so by the governing body. The mandates of ITU study groups are also decided by Sectors' governing bodies, although these mandates are often further refined by regular (usually annual) meetings of each Sector's advisory group.
How are study group officials elected?
Study groups work under the leadership of chairmen and vice-chairmen. These leadership teams are decided by the governing body of the respective Sector (RA, WTSA and WTDC) through compromise and consensus, while seeking to ensure fair regional representation. Rapporteurs and associate rapporteurs – experts responsible for the coordination of a particular area of a study group's work – are appointed by a study group's chairman. A staff member of the Geneva-based ITU secretariat is assigned to each study group to assist chairmen, vice-chairmen and rapporteurs in the performance of their tasks.
What is a working party?
In the interests of efficiency, ITU-R and ITU-T study groups are normally structured into working parties (WPs).
In ITU-R, several study groups maintain WPs for topics of interest to a more limited group of specialists or to make a valuable contribution on a specific topic. For example, SG1 is divided into three WPs on different aspects of spectrum management (e.g.
spectrum engineering techniques, spectrum management methodologies and economic strategies and
spectrum monitoring ). SG3 has four WPs, SG4 has three WPs, SG5 has four WPs and a Task Group on a specific agenda item of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019, SG6 has three WPs, and SG7 has four WPs.
Correspondence Groups or Joint Working Groups may be established on an ad-hoc basis between study groups on questions of interest to one or more study groups.
What are ITU-T regional groups and focus groups?
Regional groups within ITU-T study groups hold meetings independently of their overarching study group to enable ITU members to focus on the standardization matters most relevant to their region. Supporting information sharing within a region and familiarizing delegates with participation in ITU-T, these groups help delegates to ensure that ITU standards meet their region's needs. Regional groups have proven to be a major driving force behind increases in the number and quality of Contributions to ITU standardization work from developing countries. ITU-T currently operates
24 regional groups.
Focus groups are flexible structures created under a particular study group (or the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group). Operational for a short period of time, focus groups investigate and jump-start new directions in ITU-T standardization. They accelerate ITU-T studies in fields of growing strategic relevance to ITU membership. Open to participation from all interested parties, ITU-T focus groups bring together as many stakeholders as possible to prepare deliverables offering a basis for subsequent standardization work in ITU-T study groups. ITU-T currently operates
eight focus groups.