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Type: International Organization
Industry: ICT
Founded: 1865
Founder(s): United Nations
Headquarters: Geneva
Country: Switzerland
Facebook: ITU
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png@ITU_News
Key People
Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General
Malcolm Johnson, Director-ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau

ITU-T is the telecommunications standardization sector of the International Telecommunications Union, which is responsible in developing new standards and revising existing standards for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry from core network functionality and broadband to next-generation services such as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). The standards developed by ITU-T are called "Recommendations" since they are not mandatory unless they are incorporated in the national law of a particular government. [1]

The concentration of the standardization sector's work in the development of global ICT is to assure that developing countries will have accessibility in adopting international standards with a fully integrated global communications operations for next generation networks (NGN); build confidence and security in using ICTs; develop early warning systems (emergency communication); reduce the impact of ICT on climate change and learn how to use ICT to lessen its effects. [2]

ITU-T Framework

The ITU-T framework is composed of the following:[3]

  • World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA)- provides the overall guidelines, structure and policies for ITU-T. It is also responsible in creating study groups, appoint leaders and approve their specific work programs within the next four years.
  • Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG)- serves as the advisory body for working groups by guidelines and organizational working procedures in developing standards, resolve coordination problems within the study groups and expand their electronic working methods. TSAG also provides advise to the Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), which provides logistical support for the study group.
  • Study Groups- are responsible in developing standards in different areas. The study groups within the sector include:
  1. Study Group 2- In-charge in developing standards for in the operation aspects of telecom management such as services, networks and equipment. The Group was involved in creating the standards for ENUM, an IETF standard protocol used to enter E.164 numbers in the Domain Name System (DNS). Chairman, Ms Marie-Thérèse Alajouanine.
  2. Study Group 3- Responsible in establishing the standards for tariff and accounting principles in conjunction with the telecommunication economic and policy issues such as recommending the appropriate and reasonable global interconnection rates. Chairman, Mr. Kishik Park
  3. Study Group 5- Evaluates the effects of ICT to the environment and climate change and provide guidelines in using ICT eco-friendly. Chairman, Mr Ahmed Zeddam
  4. Study Group 9- Conducts studies in the field of television, sound transmission and integrated broadband cable networks. Chairman, Mr Arthur Webster
  5. Study Group 11- The group's work is focused on signalling requirements, protocols and test specifications which include defining standards on how to handle data and telephone calls in a network. Chairman, Mr. Wei Feng
  6. Study Group 12- Develop standards to ensure that Performance, Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) is maintained within the ICT Industry. The group identify new parameters such as packet loss and jitters and identify the impact of communication services.The group recently developed and revised standards in planning and deployment of IP-based networks. Chairman, Mr Charles A. Dvorak
  7. Study Group 13- Develops standards for Next Generation Networks and Future Networks. Chairman, Mr. Chaesub Lee
  8. Study Group 15- Creates standards in the field if Optical transport networks and access network infrastructures including broadband internet connections for over 600 million subscribers worldwide. Chairman, Mr. Yoichi Maeda
  9. Study Group 16- In-charge in developing standards for multi-media coding, systems and applications and responsible in coordinating studies to the different study groups. Chairman, Mr. Yuishi Naito
  10. Study Group 17- Concentrated in establishing standards to maintain and enhance ICT security. Chairman, Mr. Arkadiy Kramer
  • Workshops and Seminars- The sectors organize free and open workshops and seminars for the public provided by experts in the field of ICT.
  • Technology Watch- An initiative to evaluate the standardization needs of the ICT industry on new technologies and provide updated reports.

ITU-T Membership

Membership in the sector is open to the private sector interested in getting involved in enhancing the future and developing standards for the ICT industry in an open, fair and transparent environment. Interested parties may join as:[4]

  • Sector Members- Have unlimited opportunity to participate in the different ITU-T Study Groups, conferences, assemblies and free electronic access to ITU-T documents.
  • Associate Members- Have the opportunity to work with a single study group and become part in preparing recommendations within the group, have access to documentation required by their work and to serve as Rapporteur.
  • Academia- Open to universities and research institutes.

ITU-T Recommendations

Currently, there are 3000 active ITU-T Recommendations. The sector offers free Recommendations, which are accessible here

ICANN Involvement

Representation in the ICANN Board

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in general has been actively involved in the establishment of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in 1998. It is one founding members of ICANN’s Protocol Support Organization (PSO) and a member of the Government Advisory Council (GAC). ITU’s Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Deputy Director Reinhard Scholl is a member of the ICANN Board's technical Liaison Group (TLG) from 2008 to 2011 while its’ TSB Director Houlin Zhao is a member of the Independent Panel Review (IRP) Nominating Committee. [5][6] [7]

Reaction to the 2002 ICANN Reform

On February 24, 2002, former ICANN President Stuart Lynn issued his report regarding the situation of the international internet governing body almost a year after assuming his position. In his report, Lynn said that the organization needed reform due to structural weakness. The totally-private model of ICANN was not feasible to accomplish its work effectively and efficiently as a global internet coordinating body because it lacks support from national governments, which represent the broad interest of their constituents, critical stakeholders participation is minimal and funding is too small to provide services. Lynn recommended that a new private-public partnership should be established to achieve its mission and the core values of the organization should be preserved.[8]

ITU-T's TSB Director Houlin Zhao responded to Lynn’s report and acknowledged that the Lynn’s situational analysis with the current structure of ICANN is accurate. He believed that an extensive cooperation between the two organizations is significant to achieved the proposed reforms for the internet governing body to achieve its assigned tasks. According to him, ITU-T is willing to help ICANN in the reform process, to perform its duties effectively, to ensure worldwide representation and to overcome its difficulties through the following:[9]

  • Assistance will be provided in addressing the issues and concerns of governments and ensure that the sovereign rights and national interests are served including the interests of private sectors if necessary.
  • The ITU-T will participate in appropriate technical policy councils such as Technical Advisory Committee and GAC if these bodies will be created in the reformed ICANN. The ITU-T hopes to hold a special role in the future GAC to represent countries that are not directly participating in ICANN.
  • Collaborate with ICANN in identifying the areas where cooperation between both organizations are critical such as ccTLD issues, .arpa domain issues .int domain issues and development and administration of address policies for the IP address and AS number allocation.
  • Work with ICANN to define and describe the boundaries for ICANN’s policymaking mission and incorporate the specialized skills of existing organizations such as ITU in an internationally agreed restatement.
  • Discuss further with ICANN regarding its proposals and other issues of common interest.

On July 25, 2002, Richard Hill, ITU/TSB issued a clarification regarding Mr. Zhao's statement in the paper, "ITU-T and ICANN Reform" on April 17, 2002. Hill said that the paper was written by Zhao after an informal consultation with ITU members. Both Member States and Sector members of the organizations unanimously supported Zhao's proposal to increase the cooperation between ICANN and ITU. However, Hill explained that Zhao's failed to provide specific on its proposal. Hill explained that the organization can only offer assistance ICANN will issue a specific request during the reform discussion. The details of the assistance will be agreed and approved by both organizations though normal consultation and decision-making processes.[10]

Joint ICANN/ITU-T ccTLD Workshop

On July 24, 2004, the ITU-T and ICANN partnered in hosting a workshop regarding the operations and issues affecting ccTLDs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The workshop served as an avenue for ccTLD operators including ITU Member States to share their experiences. The workshop complemented the previous workshop conducted by the the standardization sector with its Member States regarding their experiences on ccTLD on March 2003. During the 2004 joint ccTLD workshop, former ICANN President and CEO Paul Twomey and TSB Director Houlin Zhao delivered opening statements. Michael Geist from the University of Ottawa presented the model of operation and the trends in ccTLDs. Representatives from ccTLD regional organizations also participated in the vent including Paul Kane from CENTR and Oscar Robles from LACTLD.[11]