Internet Society Frontpage

Events Membership
About the Internet Standards
Publications  Public Policy
About ISOC Education

Public Policy 

Become an ISOC Member

Strategic Global Engagement

ISOC Contribution to ITU WTSA 2008

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, along with the Global Standards Symposium (GSS), which precedes the WTSA, from 20-30 October, 2008.

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly is the regular event that defines the topics to be studied in the next four year period by the ITU-T. (Further information is available from the WTSA-08 home page and WTSA-08 programme page).

As such, it is a critical meeting for shaping the ITU work programme, and it is imperative that delegates are well-informed on topics and strategies pertaining to Internet development. It is our hope that we can work together to ensure that a broad range of national delegations are appropriately informed. More on that, below.

The ITU-T is the part of the ITU that produces standards for the world's telecommunication networks. Current priority work areas are ensuring the needs of developing countries are taken into account in the development of global telecom standards; accessibility; adopting international standards to ensure seamless global communications and interoperability for next generation networks (NGN); building confidence and security in the use of ICTs; emergency communications to develop early warning systems and to provide access to communications during and after disasters and the reduction of the impact of ICTs on climate change as well as create better understanding of how ICTs can mitigate its effects.

The ITU does not develop the standards that make the Internet work. But the Internet obviously relies heavily on telecommunication networks to transport information using the Internet Protocol. ISOC became a Sector Member of the ITU-T in 1995. Our membership allows us to take part in their work and participate in working meetings, including the WTSA. ISOC plays a positive role in the ITU, encouraging its 191 Member States, as well as other Sector Members (non-governmental members) to do its work in a way that does not conflict with or duplicate work done by the Internet's own standards bodies. This is particularly important in the ITU, where governments alone make decisions that ultimately affect all stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and those of us striving to ensure that the Internet is for everyone.

At the WTSA, our goal is to provide governments with basic information on the fundamental Internet institutions involved in the creation of the standards that make the Internet work, and more broadly in the ongoing governance and operation of the Internet. This information is intended to inform the discussions of the future work on Internet standards, Internet governance and the importance of ensuring that standards forums are open and inclusive in their work.

The Internet Society and its affiliated organizations believe it is vital for all participants in the development of standards understand the established Internet institutions, so that the ITU is able to complement the work done in those institutions without creating situations of overlap or duplication. This is particularly true in the context of ensuring that the developing countries are able to participate meaningfully in the standards development process. The Internet standards development organizations share a deep concern that all countries and all stakeholders are able to contribute their expertise and knowledge to their work. Each of those organizations takes active steps to facilitate participation, whether by orienting their work toward online participation, or by providing fellowships to enable qualified participants to attend and participate in face to face meetings. The Internet Society plays a key role in the process at the global, regional and national levels.

At the WTSA in 2008, governments will be debating and making decisions on the ITU work program for the next four years. Some Member States have introduced resolutions that would have the ITU extend its work into areas directly affecting the Internet.

ISOC will be participating in the WTSA and the Global Standards Symposium (GSS) that precedes the WTSA, from October 20 to 24. The ISOC delegation will be composed of our President and CEO, Lynn St. Amour, and our Chief Internet Technology Officer, Leslie Daigle. In addition, Leslie will be participating in the GSS panel on the topic of Global Standards Collaboration. While ISOC is in Johannesburg for the first week of the WTSA, we will be distributing a package of information explaining the Internet standards development process, and introducing the Internet model to delegates from approximately 191 countries - some of them representing your governments. We believe this is important so that they will be fully informed about how the Internet organizations truly work when it comes time to make their decision or cast their votes.

If you are in contact with your government department responsible for participating in the WTSA, please take this opportunity to speak to her or him about how important it is to recognized and support the Internet model. You will find electronic versions of ISOC's information packets prepared for the WTSA on our website, and we would encourage you to share it with your government officials.