Learn more about ITU standardization in new infographic

ITU standards are defining elements of the global ICT ecosystem. Estimates suggest that 95 per cent of international traffic is carried over optical transport networks built in conformance with ITU standards. These fibre-optic information superhighways provide the backbone of the Information Society, holding together the rich diversity of ICT networks, services and devices that have become so essential to business and daily life.

Our insatiable appetite for video has seen video traffic come to account for over 60 per cent bandwidth use, a figure expected to rise to over 80 per cent by year 2020. The dominance of ITU’s video coding standards led to ITU receiving a Primetime Emmy award, recognizing the engineers responsible for the fact that almost all video we view, over any medium, is coded using ITU standards.

ITU’s successes in standardization are remarkable feats of international collaboration. These standards are developed and agreed by representatives of the ITU membership of 193 Member States and over 700 private-sector entities and 120 academic and research institutes.

Globally inclusive, market-driven standardization

ITU standardization is driven predominantly by ITU’s private-sector members, industry players that come together at ITU to develop voluntary international standards (ITU-T Recommendations) that meet their need for common platforms for growth and innovation. Over 300 ITU standards are released each year, resulting from the collaboration of thousands of experts that work year-round to agree the technical standards essential to the cohesion of the global ICT ecosystem.

The principles underlying the ITU standardization process ensure that all voices are heard, that standards efforts do not favour particular commercial interests, and that resulting standards have the consensus-derived support of the diverse set of stakeholders that comprise the ITU membership. This inclusivity of ITU’s standardization platform – supported by the ITU Bridging the Standardization Gap programme – assists in offering all the world’s countries equal opportunity to benefit from the ICT advances changing our world.

ITU standardization’s commitment to consensus

ITU’s contribution-led standardization process is beholden to longstanding commitment to consensus-based decision-making. Standardization work on a particular subject is initiated in response to contributions from ITU members if the membership reaches consensus on the inclusion of that subject in ITU-T’s work plan. Similarly, the standards developed as a result are approved when ITU’s membership reaches consensus on their composition.

ITU standards are voluntary technical standards – conformance to these standards is not mandatory unless such conformance is mandated by national law. Despite their implementation being voluntary, the approval of ITU standards by consensus ensures the buy-in of all stakeholders, increasing the likelihood that these standards will be implemented worldwide.

Shaping the ITU standardization platform at WTSA

The shape of the ITU standardization platform is reviewed every four years at an ITU governing conference known as the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA). ITU members convene at WTSA to refine the strategic direction and structure of ITU’s standardization arm, ensuring that this platform evolves in tune with the evolving demands of international ICT standardization.

The upcoming WTSA-16 in Hammamet, Tunisia, 25 October to 3 November, will review ITU-T’s structure, working methods and mechanisms for collaboration with other bodies defined in the A-series ITU-T Recommendations. The Assembly will appoint the leadership teams of ITU’s membership-driven standardization expert groups, ITU-T Study Groups, and it will call for ITU standardization to address the ITU membership’s consensus-agreed priorities enshrined in new or revised WTSA Resolutions.

This new infographic highlights the importance of ITU standardization and the supporting #ITUWTSA to the future of the Information Society.

WTSA-16 infographic

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