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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Results of
World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08)

The Telecommunication Standardization Sector within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) held the 2008 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08) in Johannesburg, South Africa, over a 10 day period from October 21 to October 30, 2008. The only reference to this meeting on the FCC's website is the following quote from the Fiscal Year 2008 Performance and Accountability Report:
"Commission staff participated in the Americas preparatory meeting for the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) to develop regional consensus in advance of WTSA-08."
The State Department website doesn't have any information either. While this conference was an ITU-T conference and that organization deals traditionally with wireless telephony, it is clear that it wants more standardization in wireless also. While FCC doesn't want to talk about this meeting, its Japanese counterpart, MIC, views it as a major event. Here is the discussion from the latest MIC newsletter.

The WTSA is an important assembly which determines directions in standardization activities within the ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), and it holds its meetings once every four years. The Japanese delegation to WTSA-08 consisted of 38 people (7 from MIC and 31 from the private sector), headed by MIC Director-General Kawauchi. In all, there were 770 delegates representing 99 countries and 12 international organizations.


The WTSA is an important assembly that investigates activity reports as well as proposed recommendations and resolutions submitted by the various study groups (SG) within the ITU-T and the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG). It also makes decisions on basic directions for ITU-T activities for the next study period (2009 to 2012) by revising operating procedures, reorganizing SGs, allocating study topics and appointing chairmen or vice-chairmen of the SGs and TSAG.

The main results from this assembly are presented below.

(1) The SG structure in the next study period

Principally, study groups have been reorganized with relation to the topics shown below, and the structure for the next study period consists of 10 study groups (see figure).

(a) In conjunction with the sharing of network architecture to address the advances in FMC (convergence of mobile communication networks and fixed communication networks), the SG13 (Next Generation Networks) and SG19 (Mobile telecommunication networks) were merged.

(b) For the overall study of transmission networks, including the installation, maintenance and securing of outside facilities, part of the SG6 (Outside Plant and related indoor installations) was merged with the existing SG15 (Optical and other transport network infrastructures).

(c) Following a request from developing countries, study topics were added to the existing SG11 (Signalling requirements and protocols), consisting of studying the securement of global mutual inter-connectibility of NGN products.

(d) With the growing awareness that standardization activities should not just be centered around technical topics, and that standardization activities that focus on user needs and actual services are also important, SG16 will now be in charge of standardization activities that will develop new services such as ubiquitous applications and home networks.
Figure: Study organization for the next study period

(2) Election of SG chairmen and vice-chairmen for the next study period

As the officer who drives the standardization activities of each study group over a four year period, there were two people standing for election from Japan as study group chairmen and 7 as vice-chairmen, and all were elected (see table). They included Yushi Naito of Mitsubishi Electric (Chairman of SG16 in charge of application development) who became the first person from one of Japan’s integrated electronics manufacturers to assume a post of ITU’s SG chairman.

(3) Selection of new recommendations and resolutions

(a) Resolutions concerning countermeasures to climate change using ICT
With regard to countermeasures to climate change using ICT, proposals from various countries, including a proposal from Japan, were investigated, and resolutions were adopted including that, once the FG (Focus Group) review that is currently taking place is completed, a decision will be made by TSAG on how futures investigations will proceed at ITU-T, and that an approach would be constructed that would include the opinions of experts outside ITU-T members.

(b) Recommendation concerning the externality of networks
With regard to recommendation concerning premiums (the topping up of charges for developing countries with regard to connection charges from developed countries where the network installation is plentiful to developing countries) based on the externality of networks, recommendation was adopted, despite the opposition of Japan, the United States and Europe, that there is a need to investigate different methods for setting charges. Japan suspended the recommendation in order that it would not be applied.

(c) Resolutions in advance of the introduction of an ITU mark system (action ahead of standards certification and the confirmation of mutual connectibility)

It was confirmed that, rather than simply creating standards, it is important to ascertain mutual connectibillity based on standards, and that ahead of the introduction of the ITU mark system (testing for standards certification and mutual connectibility for products that conform to ITU-T recommendations), recommendations for mutual connectibility testing should be made as soon as possible. In addition, a resolution was taken that an investigation should take place, with regard to ITU-T, on the overall effect with regard to the ITU and manufacturers as well as compliance with the laws of individual countries of both domestic and international standards, with the results of the investigation being reported to the 2009 ITU Council.

(d) Others

As a way of dealing with the information gap between developed and developing countries, actions to correct discrepancies in standardization and regional group activities were focused on, and resolutions were taken to vitalize these further in the future. Also, resolutions were taken to promote the participation of university researchers in ITU-T.

As has been outlined above, this year’s WTSA-08 put a spotlight on users and services, and focused on securing mutual connetibility, offering support to developing countries and regional activities, as well as expectations on academic researchers, showing the new roles that ITU-T should fulfill and what kind of approach is needed to achieve this.

Taking into consideration these results from WTSA-08, we will continue to make efforts towards the development of Japan's telecommunications system and strengthening our international competitiveness, as well as continuing to make positive contributions to the ITU so that international standardization activities can occur smoothly.

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