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  1. Internet Standards and the IETF
  2. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  3. The IEEE 802 Standards
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The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a United Nations specialized agency; hence, the members of ITU are governments. The U.S. representation is housed in the State Department. The charter of the ITU is that it "is responsible for studying technical, operating, and tariff questions and issuing Recommendations on them with a view to standardizing telecommunications on a worldwide basis." Its primary objective is to standardize, to the extent necessary, techniques and operations in telecommunications to achieve end-to-end compatibility of international telecommunication connections, regardless of the countries of origin and destination.

The ITU Radiocommunication (ITU-R) Sector was created on March 1, 1993, and comprises the former CCIR and IFRB (founded in 1927 and 1947, respectively). ITU-R is responsible for all of ITU's work in the field of radio communications. The main activities of ITU-R are as follows:

  • Develop draft ITU-R Recommendations on the technical characteristics of and operational procedures for radiocommunication services and systems.

  • Compile Handbooks on spectrum management and emerging radiocommunication services and systems.

ITU-R is organized into the following study groups:

  • SG 1 Spectrum management

  • SG 3 Radiowave propagation

  • SG 4 Fixed-satellite service

  • SG 6 Broadcasting service (terrestrial and satellite)

  • SG 7 Science services

  • SG 8 Mobile, radiodetermination, amateur and related satellite services

  • SG 9 Fixed service

The ITU-T was created on March 1, 1993, as one consequence of a reform process within the ITU. It replaces the International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee (CCITT), which had essentially the same charter and objectives as the new ITU-T. The ITU-T fulfills the purposes of the ITU relating to telecommunications standardization by studying technical, operating, and tariff questions and adopting Recommendations on them with a view to standardizing telecommunications on a worldwide basis.

ITU-T is organized into 14 study groups that prepare Recommendations, numbered as follows:




Network and service operation


Tariff and accounting principles


Telecommunications management network and network maintenance


Protection against electromagnetic environment effects


Outside plant


Data networks and open system communications


Integrated broadband cable networks and television and sound transmission


Languages and general software aspects for telecommunication systems


Signaling requirements and protocols


End-to-end transmission performance of networks and terminals


Multi-protocol and IP-based networks and their internetworking


Optical and other transport networks


Multimedia services, systems, and terminals


Special study group for IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications) 2000 and beyond

Work within ITU-T and ITU-R is conducted in four-year cycles. Every four years, a World Telecommunications Standardization Conference is held. The work program for the next four years is established at the assembly in the form of questions submitted by the various study groups, based on requests made to the study groups by their members. The conference assesses the questions, reviews the scope of the study groups, creates new or abolishes existing study groups, and allocates questions to them.

Based on these questions, each study group prepares draft Recommendations. A draft Recommendation may be submitted to the next conference, four years hence, for approval. Increasingly, however, Recommendations are approved when they're ready, without having to wait for the end of the four-year study period. This accelerated procedure was adopted after the study period that ended in 1988. Thus, 1988 was the last time that a large batch of documents was published at one time as a set of Recommendations.

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