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Next Generation Network Standards to be Defined at ITU

[International Telecommunication Union press release]

Geneva, Switzerland, May 07, 2004

Work on next generation network (NGN) standards has found a home at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) following intense industry debate. ITU’s standardization arm — ITU-T — is to create a Focus Group that will produce global standards for NGN. The worId’s leading ICT standardization body has responded to industry calls for specifications with the first results expected one year from now.

The fundamental difference between NGN and today’s network is the switch from current ‘circuit-switched’ networks to ‘packet-based’ systems such as those using Internet Protocol (IP). The need for global standards is critical as most operators expect to move to an IP infrastructure. One area to be addressed is the concept dubbed ‘nomadicity’, which will give fixed line and mobile users completely seamless communication. Simply put this means the underlying technology will be invisible to the user regardless of a multi-service, multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment.

"Industry sought a quick solution on NGN and we responded," says Houlin Zhao, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. "In this case, the Focus Group concept has given us the means to act with the level of immediacy required. There is no faster and more efficient place for the development of this work."

Herb Bertine, Director of Standards, Lucent Technologies agrees. "Through this initiative ITU-T is bringing all players together in an environment where they can create truly global specifications for the service-aware network of the future, to deliver dynamic, customized services on a massive scale."

NGN will offer a richer set of applications to the end user. The work of the new group will build on existing fixed/mobile convergence architecture (eg 3GPP/3GPP2 IP multimedia subsystem (IMS)) to provide transparency between fixed and mobile networks. Keith Dickerson, Head of Standards, BT: "Service providers will benefit from specifications that will allow them to move quickly to a packet-based infrastructure. And, manufacturers will be able to offer NGN equipment to a global market, customized to user needs but interoperable."

Leading industry players have long sought an efficient body for the development of standards that will define services, network and systems architecture in the next generation of IP enabled communication systems. ITU was seen by all — operators and manufacturers alike — as the most flexible and efficient platform for the work.

The ITU-T Focus Group concept is a means to move quickly to meet urgent needs such as this, and consolidate work under the umbrella of one entity. In addition to allowing for ‘nomadicity’, other objectives of the Focus Group will be to develop specifications in the areas of Quality of Service in DSL, authentication, security and signalling.

A core group of experts from telecommunication service providers and manufacturers will lead different work areas. The exact structure of the group will be agreed following its first meeting June 2004.