Recognizing WSIS Impacts

Unless it acknowledges key characteristics of the Internet, the World Summit on the Information Society will easily undermine it

Conformance and Interoperability: Understanding Impacts on the Internet

by Seth Johnson

Introduction
Background
Two General Concerns
Some Key Points
Resolutions Related to Conformance and Interoperability
Conformance and Interoperability
WTDC Resolution 47
Guadalajara Resolution 177
On Conformance Assessment and Quality of Service
WTSA Resolution 76
On Conformance Assessment, Confidence and the Likelihood of Interoperability
Other Conformance and Interoperability Items to Review
Bridging the Digital Divide
Lack of References to the Internet in Relation to the Digital Divide
No Mention of Internet Empowerment of End Users and Providers
On Interoperability, Interconnection and Global Connectivity
On Pro-Competitive Policies and Regulatory Contexts for Expanding Access
Other Digital Divide Items to Review
Bridging the Standardization Gap
Lack of References to the Internet in Relation to Bridging the Standardization Gap
Strategic and High Priority Issues in Standardization
Regional Group Terms of Reference and Mobilization Programs
Other Standardization Gap Items to Review

Introduction

Background

The World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) harbors a potential of undermining the Internet platform. Its framing documents and resolutions use general terms such as “telecommunications/ICTs” and make very little reference to the Internet or its special characteristics, thus providing no basis for recognizing when the Internet may be affected by its initiatives.

Among these framing resolutions are those that cover development initiatives and provide the frame for the next World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) to be held in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt from March 31 to April 11, 2014. The WTDC and the High-Level WSIS Review event taking place in April 2014, along with the Plenipotentiary meeting in October-November 2014, represent the key occasions to assure that the appropriate resolutions are issued or revised to enable the impacts that WSIS development initiatives may have on the Internet to be readily recognized.

The WTDC Resolutions related to the Conformance and Interoperability initiative represent one thrust that indicates where revisions are needed to enable us to recognize when the Information Society’s development initiatives may affect the Internet.  This commentary identifies the resolutions related to Conformance and Interoperability and analyzes them in light of this concern.  We begin with two general concerns, followed by a set of key points covered in the commentary which can be viewed by clicking on the Key Points header below.

Two General Concerns

    • The first general concern here has to do with the prospect that conformance and interoperability testing might become a basis for enabling government or privileged providers to promote new types of networks by appealing to intergovernmental standards, without distinguishing them from the Internet or recognizing the tradeoffs these types of networks bring as compared to the advantages of the Internet. This could be a problem if these standards work against connectivity in the form the Internet makes possible, or if their promotion allows something different to be called Internet.
    • The other general concern here has to do with applying conformance and interoperability certification in connection with a range of public policy issues with which the Information Society is concerned. If we set up a standardization process under the ITU, and if it fails to recognize the key characteristics of the Internet while it is connected to these public policy concerns, we could easily end up normalizing, in the name of public policy concerns, forms of telecommunications and related policies that are detrimental to the advantages of the Internet, without recognizing that impact.

(Click to See Key Points) (Click to Hide Key Points)

    • The conformance and interoperability framework should reflect the distinction between the general purpose form of connectivity that the Internet Protocol makes possible between independent networks, and connectivity that supports specialized functions that are not as readily supported by general purpose internetworking.
    • Capacity building in conformance and interoperability testing should incorporate recognition of the empowerment of independent operators and end users made possible by the general purpose internet platform as well as recognizing other types of networks supporting specialized functions.
    • Conformance and interoperability should address quality of service not only as a specialized function in networks that treat IP packets specially according to types or categories, but also based on recognition of the role that the actual capacity of networks plays in quality of service in general purpose internetworking.
    • The conformance and interoperability initiative should recognize that confidence in end-to-end interoperability is already enabled for the Internet based on general purpose packet transmissions. While the likelihood of interoperability for other kinds of networks or specialized services will increase on the basis of confidence derived from conformance assessment, conformance assessment can also support interoperability through the upholding of policies backed by an intergovernmental authority, a prospect with implications that should be understood and addressed.
    • The resolutions on bridging the digital divide make no mention of the empowerment of end users and independent providers made possible by the Internet, or of how those factors drive development
    • The references to interoperability, interconnection and global connectivity in the resolutions do not necessarily mean connectivity in terms of what we understand as the Internet platform, but are used in ways that could easily support policies imposing connectivity in other forms, without clearly recognizing their impact on the Internet
    • General references to pro-competitive policies and regulatory contexts in relation to expanding access should be adapted to recognize the general purpose Internet platform made possible by interoperation among autonomous, competing providers at the physical layer, and should not characterize the policy and regulatory context solely in general terms that may support other types of networks without specifically recognizing the Internet as well.
    • Recognition of impacts on the Internet should be identified as a high-level objective and priority in standardization, and strategic and high priority issues in standardization should distinctly recognize end user and independent provider empowerment as a result of the Internet as particularly important concerns for developing countries, along with standardization initiatives that may be geared toward other types of networks.
    • The advice of proponents of increased competition among independent providers at the physical layer within the US should be recognized and applied by TSAG as an explicit consideration within its mandate to coordinate standardization topics.

For the purposes of commenting on the revisions needed in this area, it’s most useful to group the relevant resolutions under three related topic headers — Conformance and Interoperability, Bridging the Digital Divide, and Bridging the Standardization Gap. Click below to see the relationships among all the resolutions making up the overall conformance and interoperability thrust.

(Click for Resolutions Related to Conformance and Interoperability) (Click to Hide Resolutions Related to Conformance and Interoperability)

    • WTDC Resolution 47 cites WTSA Resolutions 44, 54 and 76, on bridging the standardization gap between developed and developing countries, creating and assisting regional groups, and studies on conformance and interoperability testing, assistance to developing countries, and the prospect of an ITU Mark. These Resolutions cite WTDC Resolution 37, on bridging the digital divide, ITU Council Resolution 1353, and ITU-T Recommendations ITU-T X.290 – X.296, specifying a general methodology for conformance testing.
    • In turn, WTSA Resolutions 44, 54 and 76 stem from Guadalajara Resolutions 123, 139 and 177, on bridging the standardization gap, telecommunications/ICTs for inclusivity and for bridging the digital divide, and conformance and interoperability.
    • Guadalajara Resolution 123, for its part, cites Guadalajara Resolution 71, the Strategic Plan, and WTSA Resolution 17, on telecommunications standardization in the interests of developing countries. WTSA Resolution 17 cites WTSA Resolution 45, on TSAG and coordinating work across study groups, and numerous Antalya Plenipotentiary Resolutions, including nos. 22, 25, 71, 123, 136 and 137.
    • Guadalajara Resolution 139 cites various Plenipotentiary Resolutions, including Kyoto Resolution 24, on the role of ITU in the development of world telecommunications, Marrakesh Resolutions 31 and 129, on telecommunication infrastructure and ICTs for socio-economic and cultural development, and bridging the digital divide, Antalya Resolution 139, Doha Resolution 37, and Guadalajara Resolutions 30 and 143.
    • I will defer commenting on the details of the Strategic Plan in Guadalajara Resolution 71 and the Action Plan in WTSA Resolution 44.

Conformance and Interoperability

  • WTDC Resolution 47, Guadalajara Resolution 177, and WTSA Resolution 76 fit under the general heading of conformance and interoperability.
  • A conformance and interoperability framework that recognizes the nature of the Internet needs to draw a clear distinction between certification of conformance and interoperability in relation to the general purpose form of connectivity that the Internet Protocol makes possible between independent networks, and certification for specialized functions that are not as readily supported by general purpose internetworking across autonomous routers.
  • WTDC Resolution 47

    • WTDC Resolution 47 instructs the Director of the Telecommunications Development Bureau to assist developing countries in building their capacity to perform conformance testing of equipment and systems and to follow up on implementation, including a periodic report to the T-DAG and a report on lessons learned to the WTDC in 2014. It invites Member States and Sector Members to enhance knowledge and effective application of ITU-R and ITU-T Recommendations in developing countries, and to introduce best practices in applying these recommendations. It says nothing about Internet, but does talk about fiber optics, broadband networks, and next-generation networks, inviting Member States to introduce best-practice application of ITU Recommendations in those areas through training and workshops in developing countries.
    • This resolution needs to reflect the above distinction in the identification of best practices that it calls for: best practices in applying recommendations for interoperability by general purpose IP transmissions among autonomous networks, versus best practices in applying recommendations related to networks that provide specialized functions among routers implementing specialized treatment of packets. The list list of example topics mentioned above should be extended to include specific mention of Internet networks as well.
    • WTDC 47 also notes that the studies endorsed under WTSA Resolution 76, on conformance and interoperability and the possibility of establishing an ITU Mark regime, entail a need for understanding of ITU Recommendations and related international standards in applying new technology to networks appropriately and effectively. The distinction between the general purpose Internet and other types of networks should be encompassed in this understanding, and reflected in these WTSA studies and conformance and interoperability guidelines.
    • WTDC 47 should also be revised to note that this distinction is to be applied in the training courses and workshops that the Director of the TDB, in collaboration with the TSB and RB, is instructed to encourage developing countries to participate in, and in the framing for capacity building in conformance testing, conformance and interoperability testing events, and international and regional conformance and interoperability test laboratories that they are also instructed to support. WTDC 47 also needs to note that the field study on the feasibility of and need for regional laboratories that it instructs them to conduct should reflect the distinction, as well as the report to the Council on that study, the periodic reports to the TDAG, and the report to WTDC 2014 on implementation and lessons learned, that the resolution also directs the TDB to present in collaboration with the other Bureaus.
    • Guadalajara Resolution 177

    • Guadalajara Resolution 177 instructs the Director of the TSB to consult with stakeholders in all regions on implementation of Council Recommendations related to the conformance and interoperability program, to conduct studies related to the possibility of establishing an ITU Mark program, to improve standards-setting processes and thereby improving interoperability through conformance, to prepare a long-term business plan on implementing conformance and interoperability, and to present progress reports and study outcomes to the Council. Each of these activities should incorporate recognition of the distinction between certifications related to general purpose Internet connectivity among autonomous, independent providers by means of the Internet Protocol, versus certifications related to specialized functions not readily supported by general purpose Internet connectivity.
    • Guadalajara 177 invites Sector Members and organizations qualified under ITU-T Recommendation A.5 to populate a pilot conformity database representing products tested to ITU-T Recommendations, and to participate in interoperability events facilitated by the ITU. This pilot database and the ITU interoperability events need to be designed to reflect the same distinction given above.
    • Guadalajara 177 also invites Sector Members and ITU-T A.5-qualified organizations to help build capacity for conformance and interoperability testing in developing countries. Capacity building for conformance and interoperability should be designed to distinctly recognize general purpose interoperability as well as networks and technologies supporting specialized functions. Information Society initiatives should sponsor capacity building in conformance and interoperability testing that not only certifies specialized functions, but that fosters the empowerment of independent operators and end users by distinctly certifying technologies that support a general purpose platform through the use of IP to interoperate among independent networks in a context of numerous competing providers.
    • On Conformance Assessment and Quality of Service
    • Guadalajara 177 includes a particular note that conformance assessment regimes adopted by Member States will lead to better quality of service/quality of experience. Quality of service is a characteristic often sought to be implemented as a specialized function in networks that treat IP packets specially according to types or categories. Providing for quality of service in this way generally can only be readily implemented across routers within a network governed by a core authority and/or policy, rather than across the routers of independent internetworking providers. A conformance and interoperability regime that recognizes the nature of the Internet should address quality of service not only in these terms, but also in terms that recognize the role that the actual capacity of networks plays in quality of service.
    • That is, conformance assessment should distinctly provide for certifications that recognize that general purpose interoperability supports quality of service on the basis of provision of capacity, and is supported by an enabling environment that assures end users, and providers on shared lines, will receive the actual capacity that they purchase. In this type of context, end user demand and ready and competitive access by independent providers at the physical layer drive infrastructure development and therefore support quality of service and quality of experience on that basis. To make a general point not to be developed in detail here, Information Society initiatives focused on establishing a conformance and interoperability regime should distinguish this physical layer competition model for building network capacity to support quality of service, from models that seek to support quality of service through specialized networks and services, and that tie return on investment in infrastructure to the product and service offerings of particular providers with a privileged relationship to the right of way.
    • WTSA Resolution 76

    • WTSA Resolution 76 refers to conformance assessment as the accepted way to demonstrate products adhere to an international standard, describing it as increasingly important in the context of standardization commitments under the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. It notes four pillars of the ITU conformance and interoperability program as enumerated in the executive summary of the ITU Conformance and Interoperability Business Plan report: conformance assessment, interoperability events, capacity building, and establishment of test centers in developing countries.
    • WTSA 76 resolves that ITU-T study groups should develop conformance testing Recommendations as soon as possible, that Study Group 11 be designated as coordinating activities on conformance and interoperability across all ITU-T study groups, that ITU-T, in collaboration with the other Sectors, should develop a program to assist developing countries in identifying opportunities for capacity building in conformance and interoperability testing, and in establishing regional or subregional conformance and interoperability testing centers in cooperation with accreditation and certification bodies, and that conformance and interoperability testing requirements should verify parameters defined in current and future ITU-T Recommendations.
    • All of these elements should incorporate recognition of the distinction between general purpose internetworking and other types of networks, including the pillars of conformance assessment, interoperability events, capacity building, and test centers, as well as the content and scope of the new conformance testing Recommendations, the coordinating function of Study Group 11, and testing requirements reflecting ITU-T Recommendations.
    • WTSA 76 instructs the Director of the TSB to conduct exploratory activities in each region to identify and prioritize problems in developing countries related to interoperability of telecommunications/ICT equipment and services, to implement the action plan agreed to by the Council in its 2012 session, and to implement a conformance and interoperability program that may connect with the introduction of an ITU Mark in alignment with the Council’s 2012 decision in C12/91. It instructs the study groups to identify ITU-T Recommendations that may be candidates for interoperability testing, to prepare these Recommendations for testing as appropriate, and to cooperate with stakeholders in optimizing studies for the preparation of test specifications
    • These elements of WTSA 76 should also be related to the same distinction given above. Exploration of problems in the regions should allow for various regions and countries to support either Internet or other types of connectivity under the general term “telecommunication/ICT equipment and services.” The overall framing of the ITU Mark program should also incorporate the distinction.
    • On Conformance Assessment, Confidence and the Likelihood of Interoperability
    • WTSA 76 asserts that an increase in confidence in ICT equipment conformance with ITU-T Recommendations will increase the probability that equipment from different manufacturers will interoperate across networks from end to end. This is reflected in an observation in Guadalajara 177 that the conformance assessment regimes that it invites Member States to adopt can lead to a higher probability that equipment, services and systems will interoperate.
    • Information Society initiatives for conformance and interoperability should recognize that confidence in end-to-end interoperability is already enabled for the Internet based on general purpose packet transmissions. However, for specialized functions that are not as readily supported across the autonomous networks that make up the Internet, these Resolutions appear to be designed to enable providers and manufacturers to certify their compatibility with particular specialized functions that may be supported by particular types of networks. These specialized functions, and the types of networks that support them, should be distinguished from the Internet. While conformance testing would help increase the likelihood of interoperability for networks supporting specialized functions on the basis of increased confidence, it also can support interoperability on the basis of fulfilling policies backed by an intergovernmental authority. As the Information Society contemplates the establishing of an intergovernmental framework for policymaking that may touch on the Internet, it is critical that a basis is established for identifying when policies would impact the Internet deleteriously, by distinguishing networks supporting more specialized functions from the Internet.
    • Other Conformance and Interoperability Items to Review

    • Under the Conformance and Interoperability heading we find two items to be prepared for presenting at upcoming occasions, which should address the need to identify impacts on the Internet: the ITU Council Report to the next plenipotentiary conference on progress related to Guadalajara Resolution 177, and the Report by BDT and the other Bureaus to the 2014 WTDC with lessons learned related to WTDC Resolution 47.
    • Further items to be reviewed with an eye for understanding how well the existing proceedings address this concern include:
      • The ITU Conformance and Interoperability Business Plan, the Action Plan agreed to by the ITU Council in 2012, and the Secretary-General’s Conformance and Interoperability Status Report and Action Plan (C12/48), all referred to in WTSA Resolution 76, and the ITU Council Document C09/28 approving TSB Recommendations, mentioned in Guadalajara 177
      • The TSB Business Plan, Progress Reports to the Council in 2009, 10, 11, 12 and to the 2010 Plenipotentiary conference, TSB studies and reports on implementation of Guadalajara 177 and WTSA 76, including studies on the potential of establishing an ITU Mark, and consultations with regional stakeholders on human capacity building and establishing of test facilities
      • The Report by BDT and the other Bureaus to the Council on implementation of Guadalajara Resolution 47, mentioned in Guadalajara 177, and periodic reports to the TDAG by BDT and the other Bureaus mentioned in WTDC 47
      • The pilot conformity database mentioned in Guadalajara 177
      • The ITU-T A-series Recommendations, including Recommendation A.5 regarding qualification of participating organizations, mentioned in Guadalajara 177, and Supplement 2, mentioned in WTSA 76
      • ITU-T Recommendations X.290 to ITU-T X.296, mentioned in WTSA 76
    • The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, mentioned in WTSA 76, should also be reviewed for how both general purpose interoperability and interoperability for specialized functions and networks might relate to the Agreement, including how conformance assessment might relate to both general purpose interoperability and interoperability for specialized functions and networks through inter-governmental policies and standards

Bridging the Digital Divide

  • WTDC Resolution 37, Guadalajara Resolution 139, and WTSA Resolution 17 address the topic of bridging the digital divide.
  • Lack of References to the Internet in Relation to the Digital Divide

    • Guadalajara Resolution 139 relates bridging the digital divide and inclusivity to the general term telecommunications/ICTs with no recognition of how the characteristics of the Internet relate to those concerns. It notes the lack of basic infrastructure, plans, laws and regulations to support development of ICT and ICT applications in many countries, and concludes that the ITU should continue to support studies on the contribution of ICTs and ICT applications to development, to act as a clearing-house for the exchange of information and expertise in this area, and to pursue initiatives to promote access to telecommunications/ICTs and ICT applications. However, it makes no reference to how the unique characteristics of the Internet relate to or contribute to these concerns.
    • WTDC Resolution 37 also notes the lack of basic infrastructure, plans, laws and regulations to support ICT development in many developing countries, again using the general term ICTs. It makes no mention of the Internet’s characteristics in particular as part of the revolution available to create digital opportunities in developing countries, and refers to networks supporting the Internet and Internet applications as “legacy networks,” without addressing tradeoffs of other types of networks. It requests the Director of the TDB to create social connectivity indicators for the digital divide, support various special initiatives including developing a user-awareness campaign to build trust and confidence in ICT applications, and help reduce access costs by encouraging manufacturers to develop appropriate technology scalable to broadband applications.
    • WTSA Resolution 17 does not address the Internet distinctly as it notes the purpose of the ITU to promote development of the worldwide telecommunication network. It refers to NGN deployment studies and migration to NGNs with no distinct references to the Internet, as it instructs the Director of the TSB to assist developing countries in studies on priority questions, to support flagship groups on those questions, and to continue supporting NGN deployment studies and standards development activities as related to rural development and bridging the digital and development divides.
    • No Mention of Internet Empowerment of End Users and Providers

    • Notably for a resolution on bridging the digital divide and inclusivity, Guadalajara 139 makes no mention of the empowerment of end users and independent providers made possible by the Internet. It observes the integral role played by telecommunications/ICTs and ICT applications — but not the Internet as such — as part of the national, regional and international development process, and as not only the consequence of economic growth, but a prerequisite for overall development, including economic growth. It states that ICTs and ICT applications must be placed at the service of development, and that telecommunication/ICT infrastructure and applications are central to the goal of digital inclusion, while making no mention of the unique empowerment and innovation by end users and independent providers that the Internet makes possible or how those factors drive development.
    • Guadalajara 139 recommends national e-strategies be linked to development goals with no mention of how characteristics of the Internet contribute to these strategies. It calls ICTs and ICT applications essential to political, economic, social and cultural development and notes the important role they play in e-government, labor, job creation, agriculture, health, education, transport, industry, human rights, poverty alleviation, environmental protection, prevention/mitigation of natural and other disasters, trade and transfer of information for social welfare in economic and social progress. But again, it does not provide any indication of how the characteristics of the Internet contribute to these purposes.
    • Guadalajara 139 notes that the Strategic Plan for the Union for 2012-2015 has the aim of “enabling and fostering the growth and sustained development of telecommunication networks and services,” while it makes no mention of the Internet, of end user and independent provider innovation driving development, or of this innovation being made possible by the general purpose platform created by the Internet among competing providers. It also notes the goals of assisting developing countries in bridging the digital divide through socio-economic development enabled by telecommunications/ICTs, and of facilitating universal access, with no mention of how development is enabled by the Internet as such, or for that matter specifying that this universal access is to the Internet as well as other types of networks.
    • On Interoperability, Interconnection and Global Connectivity

    • Guadalajara 139 references Goal 2 of the Strategic Plan for the Union for 2008-2011 and the fundamental goal of the Strategic Plan for 2012-2015, which call for the ITU to assist in bridging the national, regional and international digital divide in ICTs and ICT applications by facilitating interoperability, interconnection and global connectivity of telecommunication networks and services. But it does not relate bridging the divide to access to the Internet as such. Interoperability, interconnection and global connectivity do not necessarily mean connectivity by what we understand as the Internet platform, but could mean establishing policies imposing connectivity in other forms, which might occur without recognizing that the characteristics of the Internet were affected.
    • On Pro-Competitive Policies and Regulatory Contexts for Expanding Access

    • Guadalajara 139 and WTDC 37 both endorse pro-competitive policies and regulatory contexts in general terms in relation to expanding access to telecommunications/ICTs.
    • Guadalajara 139 cites comments from the Hyderabad and Geneva Declarations on the role of governments, policy-makers and regulators and the legal and regulatory environments in promoting widespread affordable access to telecommunications/ICTs. It also instructs the Director of the TDB, in coordination with the other Bureaus, to assist the Member States and Sector Members in developing a pro-competitive policy and regulatory framework for ICTs and ICT applications, and in strategies that expand access to telecommunication infrastructure, particularly for rural areas, to evaluate models for affordable and sustainable systems for rural access to information, communications and ICT applications on the global network, based on studies of these models, and to conduct case studies concerning telecommunications/ICTs in rural areas, and potentially to deploy a pilot model using IP-based technology, or equivalent thereof in the future, to extend rural access.
    • WTDC 37 requests the Director of the TDB to assist Member States and Sector Members in developing a pro-competition policy and regulatory framework for ICTs, including online services and electronic commerce, as well as capacity building in connectivity and accessibility.
    • These references should acknowledge the general purpose Internet platform made possible by interoperation among autonomous, competing providers at the physical layer, and should not characterize the policy and regulatory context solely in general terms referencing competition, innovation and investment incentives in ways that may support other types of networks while not recognizing the Internet as well.
    • Strategies to expand access to telecommunications infrastructure (particularly in rural areas) should be addressed in terms that specifically acknowledge the advantages built into the Internet as such. Given that under Guadalajara 139 the TDB may pursue the deployment of a pilot model for rural access using IP-based technology (or equivalent), it is important that the nature and advantages of the Internet are delineated now so that tradeoffs in using other, future protocols are recognized.
    • Other Digital Divide Items to Review

    • We find two items under the Digital Divide heading to be prepared for presenting at upcoming occasions, which should address the need to identify impacts on the Internet: the ITU Council Progress Report to the next Plenipotentiary Conference, and the Annual Reports by the Secretary-General to the ITU Council, both on Guadalajara Resolution 139.
    • Further items to be reviewed with an eye for understanding how well the existing proceedings address this concern include:
      • The social connectivity indicators mentioned in WTDC Resolution 37
      • The work of the flagship groups mentioned in WTSA Resolution 17
      • The Digital Solidarity Agenda, including the Geneva Plan of Action, the outcomes of the Connect Africa summit and the Connect CIS summit, the Tunis Agenda and the Strategic Plan for the Union for 2012-2015, as alluded to in WTDC 37 and Guadalajara 139
      • Various Antalya Plenipotentiary Resolutions cited by WTSA 17, including Resolutions 22, 25, 71, 123, 136 and 137
      • Other Plenipotentiary Resolutions cited by Guadalajara 139, including Kyoto Resolution 24, on the role of ITU in the development of world telecommunications, Marrakesh Resolutions 31 and 129, on telecommunication infrastructure and ICTs for socio-economic and cultural development, and bridging the digital divide, Antalya Resolution 139, Doha Resolution 37, and Guadalajara Resolutions 30 and 143

Bridging the Standardization Gap

  • Guadalajara Resolution 123 and WTSA Resolutions 44, 45 and 54 fit under the heading of bridging the standardization gap between developed and developing nations
  • Lack of References to the Internet in Relation to Bridging the Standardization Gap

    • Both Guadalajara Resolution 123 and WTSA Resolution 44 present the role of ITU-T in bridging the standardization gap between developed and developing countries in relation to the general term “information and communication network infrastructure and applications,” citing the Strategic Plan for the Union for 2012-2015. Neither the Strategic Plan nor these two resolutions incorporate recognition of the unique character of the Internet in their presentation of the mission of narrowing the standardization gap in service of the ITU’s goal of facilitating worldwide standardization of telecommunications.
    • Guadalajara 123 cites the strategic goal of ITU-D under the Strategic Plan of bridging the digital divide by enabling socio-economic development through telecommunications/ICTs. And WTSA 44 cites ITU Council Resolution 1353 as identifying telecommunications and ICTs as essential components for sustainable development in developed and developing countries, and as instructing the Secretary-General and the Directors of the Bureaus to identify ways to support developing countries in achieving sustainable development through telecommunications and ICTs. Again, both resolutions use general terms without referencing the unique character and contributions of the Internet in relation to development.
    • These two resolutions, and the Strategic Plan and Council Resolution 1353, should be revised to describe standardization initiatives and their relationship to the development initiatives of the Information Society with specific reference to the unique characteristics of the Internet as well as other types of networks under the general term “telecommunications/ICTs.”
    • WTSA 44 should specifically reference the distinction between the Internet and other types of networks designed to support various specialized functions as of particular import to the activities of the Directors of the Bureaus and the implementation group established within the TSB to implement WTSA 44 and its Action Plan. This includes assisting developing countries with studies on priority questions, developing implementation guidelines for relevant ITU-T Recommendations, drafting guidelines for national application of ITU Recommendations, supporting regional mobilization of standardization, conducting studies on innovation as related to bridging the standardization gap, institutionalizing terms of reference for TSAG and ITU-T study groups, providing education and training on implementation of ITU-T Recommendations, conducting workshops and seminars on new Recommendations, and in reporting on effectiveness of regional groups to the ITU Council, as well as on the implementation of the WTSA 44 Action Plan to future WTSAs and Plenipotentiary Conferences.
    • The reporting mechanisms on the implementation of WTSA 44 that Guadalajara 123 instructs the Secretary-General and the Directors of the Bureaus to improve should incorporate recognition of the distinct characteristics of the Internet. The report and advice that WTSA 44 invites the ITU Council to provide to the 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference should reflect this recognition as well.
    • WTSA 44 also invites the Council to establish a panel on stimulating ICT innovations. This provision should be revised to invite the Council “to encourage the establishment of a specialised panel, under ITU-T, on stimulating ICT innovations in both the contexts of general purpose internetworking among autonomous providers and of networks that support more specialized functions, with the objective of enhancing global collaborative innovation to bridge the standardization gap between developed and developing countries and to identify and support innovations from developing countries;”
    • Strategic and High Priority Issues in Standardization

    • WTSA 44 instructs the Director of the TSB, in collaboration with the other Bureaus, to assist developing countries in studies on their priority questions, with an eye to developing and implementing ITU-T Recommendations.
    • WTSA Resolutions 45 and 54 list a number of high priority standardization issues, both starting with NGNs or future networks. These priorities could lead to misunderstanding unless we clearly articulate key characteristics of the Internet. Priority questions and studies on them should distinguish between concerns that pertain to the Internet, which supports general purpose interoperation among autonomous networks, and those that pertain to networks that support specialized functions not readily supported by general purpose interoperation among autonomous networks.
    • WTSA 45 notes the call in Guadalajara Resolution 122, for the WTSA to address strategic issues in standardization, concludes that ITU-T activities on high priority standardization issues should identify high level objectives and priorities for ITU-T studies from a global standpoint, based on taking into account the interests of developing countries and encouraging their involvement, and instructs the Telecommunications Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) to ensure coordination between study groups on high priority standardization issues, taking into account advice from groups established to coordinate high priority and joint standardization topics.
    • Recognition of impacts on the Internet should be identified as a high-level objective and priority for ITU-T standardization studies, and coordination of standardization initiatives should concentrate on assuring that a basis is established to allow identification of the impact that standards may have on the Internet. ITU-T should recognize that the interests of developing countries can be understood in terms of end user and independent provider empowerment as a result of the general purpose platform made possible by IP. Strategic and high priority issues in standardization should distinctly emphasize empowerment of end users, independent providers, and a communications platform that is general purpose and supports diversity of applications while also enabling competition among providers while supporting one platform.
    • The standardization and development initiatives of the Information Society must recognize these characteristics of the Internet as particularly important concerns for developing countries, along with initiatives that may be geared toward other types of networks.
    • There are very active constituencies in the US seeking the establishment of a telecommunications policy framework in the US that supports the Internet by enabling competition among independent providers at the physical layer, and the advice of these proponents should be recognized as a priority and applied by TSAG as an explicit consideration within its mandate to coordinate standardization topics.
    • Regional Group Terms of Reference and Mobilization Programs

    • WTSA 44and 54 both invite regions and their Member States to develop draft terms of reference and working methods for regional groups, and WTSA 44 resolves that vice-chairs and chairs from developing countries in TSAG and ITU-T study groups should develop mobilization programs for their regions and make mobilization and participation reports to the ITU.
    • These regional group terms of reference should reflect the distinction between the Internet, which supports interoperation among autonomous networks, and networks that support specialized functions not readily supported by general purpose interoperation among autonomous networks, and should reference the nature of the communications environment in terms of whether it supports interoperation among competing providers at the physical layer, or is characterized by few providers only supporting an intranet
    • These regional mobilization programs and reports should be articulated with reference to the type of networks their countries and regions support, specifically whether they support interoperation among autonomous providers readily entering and competing at the physical layer throughout their countries or regions, or whether they have few providers at the physical layer in any given area, with telecommunications initiatives chiefly arranged through those providers.
    • Other Standardization Gap Items to Review

    • The Standardization Gap resolutions reference two items to be prepared for presenting at upcoming occasions, which should address the need to identify impacts on the Internet: the ITU Council Report, with Advice, to the next Plenipotentiary Conference, and the Reports by the TSB and other Bureaus to future WTSAs and Plenipotentiary Conferences, both on WTSA Resolution 44
    • Further items to be reviewed with an eye for understanding how well the existing proceedings address this concern, all referred to by WTSA 44, include:
      • ITU Council Resolution 1353
      • Annual reviews of WTSA 44
      • Conclusions of the Global Standardization Symposium

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