ITU members resolve to end discriminatory access to the Internet

WTSA-12 has adopted a Resolution inviting ITU Member States to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.

Noting the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms and that discrimination regarding access to the Internet could greatly affect developing countries; Resolution 69, “Non-discriminatory access and use of Internet resources,” invites affected ITU Member States to report to ITU on any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.

The adoption of Resolution 69 underlines ITU’s commitment to a free and inclusive information society and sends a strong message to the international community in response to accusation that ITU’s membership wishes to restrict the freedom of speech.

ITU’s work, along with many others, has played a key role in enabling the Internet. Without ITU standards providing the access technologies to homes and businesses and the transport mechanisms to carry information from one side of the world to another, the broadband services that we have come to rely on would simply not work.

Also see ITU Press Release.


SDN Resolution to boost Internet’s agility

A weekend full of concentrated work in ad-hoc and drafting groups has resulted in the adoption of new Resolutions, the latest targeting Software-defined Networking (see earlier article on an e-waste Resolution).

Pending WTSA-12 Plenary approval, the new Resolution on Software-defined Networking (SDN) instructs ITU-T Study Group 13 (Future Networks including mobile and NGN) to expand and accelerate its work in the SDN domain.

In the world of computer networking, 2012 saw few terms gain as much traction as SDN. As new devices and users have connected and traffic figures continue to rise, networks have become increasingly complex, error-prone and difficult to manage. Thus, in the interests of greater speed and flexibility in routing instructions, security and energy management of network equipment such as routers and switches, SDN proposes to decouple the control and data planes and allow for programmable interfaces to these planes, i.e. letting software do the job traditionally performed by the control plane.

In some ways, SDN resembles the basic principles of cloud computing that have led to flexibility, cost efficiency and manageability of computation and storage resources through virtualization.

SDN emerged from Stanford University in 2009 and the standards formulated around it are maintained by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

During the last study period (2009-12) ITU-T Study Group 13 initiated two SDN work items (SDN framework for carrier networks; requirements of formal specification and verification methods for SDN) and more are soon expected to emerge, alongside corresponding work in other ITU-T study groups. SDN was a hot topic at last week’s CTO meeting, where high-level industry representatives recommended that ITU-T collaborate with academia and relevant forums such as ONF, and that it conduct studies into the impact of SDN for developing countries.

In the video below: Nick McKeown (Stanford University): How SDN will Shape Networking

New Resolution to clean up e-waste

Committee 4 has agreed a new Resolution on e-waste, charging ITU to strengthen its activities in this arena and to assist ITU Member States in instituting policy frameworks that limit e-waste’s negative environmental effects.

The Resolution arrives against a backdrop of a rapidly progressing ICT industry, increasing consumption of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and a marked increase in e-waste, which, as a result of global mismanagement, has led to negative environmental and health effects, particularly in developing countries.

Pending final WTSA-12 Plenary approval, “The role of telecommunications/ICT in handling and controlling e-waste from telecommunications/ICT equipment and methods of treating it” instructs the Director of TSB, Malcolm Johnson, to collaborate with Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, to advance ITU’s on-going activities in this regard, to assist developing countries in their assessment of e-waste challenges, and to lead global efforts combatting and raising awareness around e-waste’s adverse effects.

The Resolution calls on ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and Climate Change) to document and develop best-practice models of handling, controlling, treating and recycling e-waste, and to reflect the resulting findings in international standards (ITU-T Recommendations). SG 5 is in addition instructed to study the e-waste impacts resulting from developed countries’ exports of used telecommunications/ICT equipment to developing nations.

More on ITU-T and climate change here…

e-health: Committee 4 approves new Resolution

e-health, the use of ICTs in healthcare, has been a strong feature of this Assembly. The extensive discussion in GSS and a dedicated side event complement the Committee 4 agreement on a new Resolution on e-health.

Pending final WTSA-12 Plenary approval, Information and communication technology applications and standards for improved access to e-health services instructs the Director of TSB, Malcolm Johnson, to collaborate with Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, to prioritize and coordinate work on e-health in the years to come.

The Resolution will act as the catalyst for the initiation of new work in various ITU-T Study Groups, in particular SG16 (multimedia), SG11 (protocols) and SG17 (security), as well as increased interaction with WHO and other organizations addressing ICT healthcare standards. ITU-T’s Focus Group on the machine-to-machine service layer (FG M2M) was established in January 2012 and initially addresses healthcare services enabled by M2M, e.g., remote patient monitoring and ambient assisted living.

Security standards for e-health communications, services, databases, records handling, identification and authentication were among the priorities identified at Tuesday’s e-health side event and are reflected in the proposed Resolution.

ITU’s Technology Watch report on e-health standards and interoperability by Dr Laura DeNardis (American University, Washington, DC) gives an insight into some of the latest trends in e-health and explains how standards facilitate the adoption of related services.