Home Africa and the Middle EastAfrica and the Middle East 1999 Standardization Strategies of ITU-T for a New Millennium

Standardization Strategies of ITU-T for a New Millennium

by david.nunes
Houlin Zhao Issue: Africa and the Middle East 1999
Article no.: 6
Topic: Standardization Strategies of ITU-T for a New Millennium
Author: Houlin Zhao
Title: Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB)
Organisation: International Telecommunication Bureau (ITU), Switzerland
PDF size: 20KB

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Article abstract

The mission of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) is, under the provision of the Constitution and Convention (Geneva, 1992), to fulfil the purpose of the Union relating to telecommunication standardization by studying technical, operating and tariff questions and adopting Recommendations on them with a view to standardizing telecommunications on a worldwide basis.

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The end of the 20th century is witnessing a veritable explosion in the communication and information society: the rapid growth of the Internet and mobile telecommunication, the WTO basic telecommunications agreement, the worldwide trend of liberalization, competition, globalisation, and the convergence of technology and services. Standardization is an important step towards building a harmonized economic market. Standardization plays a key role in making telecommunication accessible to all, thus fostering development and growth in all domains on a global scale. In this rapidly changing environment, the ITU-T, which has enjoyed worldwide recognition and competence in telecommunication standardization, faces challenges from the market forces which require specifications or standards to be developed quickly in order to respond to growing demands for the accelerated development of new services and products. There are now many standardisation bodies, multilateral meetings, and forums actively developing global standards. The ITU -Ts pre-eminence is under threat. As the Director of the TSB (Telecommunication Standardization Bureau), I, together with the Member States and Sector Members, will put three important strategies on the top of the agenda: · Increasing the efficiency and rapidity of the ITU-T and its ability to adapt by improving its working methods, introducing new financial arrangements, and enforcing active co-operation with the other standardization bodies · Strengthening the position of Sector Members and increasing the participation of developing countries in the ITU-T · Promotion of ITU-T image and its products. During the recent past, the ITU-T had changed its working methods more than once, each time adopting a quicker process of production of Recommendations. Today there is still a strong market demand towards further shortening of the cycle of developing and approving Recommendations. To meet this request, the ITU-T has no other alternative but to further improve its working methods in order to be more pragmatic, relevant but flexible. The ITU-T will accelerate its procedure for adopting recommendations more rapidly. The ITU-T has begun discussion of an alternative approval procedure for the majority of its Recommendations, especially those of non-regulatory nature. Member States and Sector Members will act together in their adoption. Greater flexibility in working arrangements will be introduced and greater emphasis on project teams, focus groups, workshops and forums, with enhanced use of electronic document handling (EDH), using voluntary financial contributions to speed up the work. The ITU-T also intends developing close working relationships with the other standardisation bodies. The relationship between ITU-T and the regional standardisation bodies needs to be clearly defined in order to complement activity. At present, the ITU-T has 188 Member States and about 400 Sector Members including 144 ROAs (Recognised Operating Agencies), 182 SIOs (Scientific or Industrial Organisations), 40 regional or international organisations and other entities dealing with telecommunication matters. In the ITU-T, the Sector Members play the leading role in the development of Recommendations. A significant part of the ITU-T budget now comes from contributions by the private sector. Due to deregulation and/or privatization, there are more and new network operators and service providers. ITU-T should be a focal point among all of the partners involved in the development of the Global Information Society, reflecting the view of all partners concerned, including governments, regulators, manufacturers, and operators. The ITU-T has to take measures to strengthen the position of the Sector Members within the ITU-T, recognising their contribution when considering their rights and obligations. In this rapidly changing technological environment, it is vital that developing countries are not left behind and that the rich human resources of three-quarters of the worlds population are given the maximum opportunity to contribute towards mankinds progress during the next millennium. The ITU-T will facilitate the involvement of developing countries in the standards setting process and find ways so that these countries can best benefit from the results. Up to now, The public perception persists that the ITU-T has been burdened by bureaucracy, and is unable to respond quickly to the demands of the market place. As a matter of fact, the ITU-T is little known to the new players of the telecommunication community and the general public. To change this poor image, the ITU-T must communicate its message more effectively than it does at present. The ITU-T is determined to take actions to promote itself and its products, including official visits to various countries to promote the ITU-T at government level, designating ITU-T officials and experts to promote the ITU-T and telecommunications at the regional or international forums in the context of economic and social development. The TSB will start to use public media and the WEB to promote its Recommendations. The ITU regional offices will become focal points in promoting the ITU and its three Sectors including ITU-T in their regions. Other measures such as holding the ITU-T meetings in different countries of the five regions will also be taken where possible. The development of ITU-T Recommendations are currently assured by 14 Study Groups and TSAG (Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group). The ITU-Ts work is carried out on a cycle of four years, each called Study Period. The current study period runs from 1997 to 2000. The results of a study period are to be reviewed and approved by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA). The next WTSA will be held in September/October 2000. The WTSA will also review and approve Resolutions and Recommendations which cover the rules of procedures and Questions to be studied during the next study period. It is quite clear that the ITU-T will adopt at its next WTSA-2000 new procedures to approve Recommendations more quickly and will approve new working methods with great flexibility. The priorities of its study will focus on IP-related network aspects, IMT-2000 (3rd generation mobile phone technologies) and tariff and accounting issues for new services. The ITU-T will do everything possible to keep itself more dynamic and responsible in delivering services to the whole telecommunication community at the level of excellence and within the time frame expected by its members, to strengthen the ITU-Ts pre-eminence and to maintain its leading position in global telecommunication standardization of the 21st century.

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