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ITU-T Standards Are Now Free

Free Access for All to ITU-T Standards

ITU-T Newslog. Friday, September 07, 2007.

Standards produced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)ITU-T Recommendations — are now available without charge. The announcement follows a highly successful trial conducted from January-October 2007, during which some two million ITU-T Recommendations were downloaded throughout the world.

The experiment's aim was to "increase the visibility and easy availability of the output of ITU-T". Offering standards for free is a significant step for the standards community as well as the wider information and communication technologies (ICT) industry. Now, anyone with Internet access will be able to download one of over 3000 ITU-T Recommendations that underpin most of the world's ICT. The move further demonstrates ITU's commitment to bridging the digital divide by extending the results of its work to the global community.

Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) Malcolm Johnson, presenting the results of the trial to the 2007 meeting of ITU's Council, said that not only had the experiment been a success in raising awareness of ITU-T, it would also attract new members.

Most importantly, he noted, it had helped efforts to bridge the 'standardization gap' between countries with resources to pursue standardization issues and those without. "There has been very positive feedback from developing countries," said Johnson. "Last year exactly 500 ITU-T Recommendations had been sold to developing countries; this year, after allowing free access, they have downloaded some 300,000."

ITU-T Recommendations are developed in a unique contribution-driven and consensus-based environment by industry and government members, with industry providing the most significant input. A strong focus of current standards work is providing the foundations for the so-called next-generation network (NGN). Other key areas include IPTV, ICT in vehicles, cybersecurity, quality of service, multimedia, emergency communications and standards for access, such as VDSL 2 — very high speed digital subscriber line 2, the newest and most advanced standard of DSL broadband wireline communications.

The Trial

On January 09, 2007, the announcement Trial Period for Free ITU-T Recommendations Starts was released:

From the beginning of 2007, ITU-T Recommendations will be available without charge for a trial period.

With only a small number of exceptions all in-force Recommendations will be available in PDF form via a simple mouse click.

There is a general belief that the strategic importance of making on-line access to ITU-T Recommendations free outweighs the costs (in terms of lost revenue) to ITU. This is seen as a way to increase the transparency of ITU-T work and encourage wider participation in ITU-T activities. It is also believed that this policy will help increase developing countries' awareness of pertinent issues and help to promote the participation of academia in ITU-T work..."


Note on ITU-T and OASIS Standards Collaboration

"OASIS participates as an international user group in a Memorandum of Understanding on Electronic Business with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE)."

In October 2006, a Joint ITU-T/ OASIS Workshop and Demonstration of Advances in ICT Standards for Public Warning was hosted at the ITU headquarters in Geneva. The specific objectives for the Workshop and Demonstration were:

  • To review progress concerning public warning since 2003, including the Tampere Convention
  • To demonstrate the availability and effectiveness of interoperable technologies based on the OASIS Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) content standard which is applicable to all alerts and notifications in disasters and emergency situations
  • To identify existing standardization gaps, including authorization and authentication of public warnings and the attendant implications for public policy
  • To prepare an action list for filling gaps and promoting public warning standardization, and identify key players that could collaborate in such work

According to the Workshop Report, "The ITU-T and OASIS workshop on public warning attracted 80 participants and saw agreement on a number of ways forward. The event signaled a further stepping-up of cooperation between the two organizations. The OASIS Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), which was successfully demonstrated at the event, has been submitted to ITU for international standardization, officials from both organizations confirmed. Publication as an ITU-T Recommendation will help ensure that CAP is deployed worldwide giving technical compatibility for users across all countries. This action had strong support from the workshop..."

Various OASIS standards have been approved through ITU-T in the 'X-Series - Data networks, open system communications and security'. In 2005, Abbie Barbir (Nortel) represented OASIS to ITU-T and was instrumental in having the ITU-T consent the SAML and XACML OASIS Standards as ITU-T Recommendations. Examples:

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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