NewIP, OTT, and ICTs: Highlights from our Work with the ITU

By Anne-Rachel Inné, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs & Einar Bolin, Manager, Public Policy -

ARIN Government Affairs Department Update

We do a lot of interesting work in the Government Affairs Department (GAD) here at ARIN, so we want to provide an update on some of the work we were involved in last year (2020 being an unprecedented year) with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Among the organizations our department participates in, the ITU is certainly the one that engages a lot of our team’s time. It is the oldest of the specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN). The ITU dates back to 1865 when it was formed to coordinate international telegraph communications. The “T” in ITU evolved to include telephone, then to be telecommunications, and today the ITU’s focus is Telecommunications/Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). The ITU has three sectors: R for Radio, D for Development and T for Telecom Standards.

As mentioned in an earlier post, ITU meetings went online last year with “fully virtual e-meetings.” The bodies that meet and do the work of creating standards and technical reports of the telecom standards sector of the ITU are called Study Groups (SGs). All 11 SGs at ITU-T have been convening online meetings and are finishing the work of the 2017 to 2020 four-year cycle.

Highlights of Some ITU-T Study Groups (SGs):

You may have heard about the ‘NewIP’ controversial discussions at ITU. Several groups discussed starting work on “NewIP”, the proponents of which had stated this to be parallel to, not a replacement of, the currently used Internet Protocol (see References below for more information on NewIP). There was also a suggestion to change the name to Future Vertical Communication Networks (FVCN) and Protocols. A series of meetings in SGs and an Adhoc Group for identifying a possible and consentable way forward on NewIP/FVCN did not reach consensus in December 2020. Consequently, the work on ‘NewIP’ seem (at least for now) off the table, until the next contribution by an ITU member.

As part of its mandate around multimedia, SG16 looks at “Human factors related issues for improvement of the quality of life through international telecommunications.” They work to improve telecommunications for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) include those who have short or long-term physical, sensory, cognitive or psychosocial impairments, which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others). Related to this, SG2 met and continues to develop assignment criteria for telephone numbers for Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and for persons with disabilities. This work is even more important due to the pandemic, the increasing importance of telecommunications/ICTs in everyday lives and the digitalization of ever more aspects of society that need to be inclusive.

SG3 has turned its focus to OTTs. OTT means Over-The-Top service (SMS text messages are an OTT service). Another example of an OTT is Voice over IP (VOIP). Now its meaning varies, and in fact at the ITU Plenipotentiary meeting in 2018 the term OTT was purposely left undefined. SG3 is looking at quality of service with OTTs, and, taxation of OTTs, a theme that is also becoming pervasive as we move to the digital society.

TSAG, the ITU-T sector management meeting, will meet again in January 2021 and should continue work until the next World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (WTSA) in 2022. According to the ITU Constitution and Convention (CS/Article 19, CV/Article 14A), TSAG work will include identifying changing requirements and providing advice on appropriate changes to be made to the priority of work in ITU-T study groups, planning, and allocation of work between study groups (and the coordination of that work with other Sectors), giving due regard to the cost and availability of resources within ITU and the study groups.

ARIN continues to participate in the work of ITU-T and ITU-D study groups because it is important that future networks standards development and their policies, as well ICTs development work, keep on recognizing all stakeholders’ roles in global digital governance.

World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (WTSA):

WTSA will be postponed from November 2020 to 1-9 March 2022, preceded by the Global Standards Symposium on 28 February 2022, and is set to take place in Hyderabad. WTSA normally occurs every four years. The focus of a WTSA meeting is to look at the structure and number of Study Groups, and their mandates, and to revise or publish new Resolutions. One of the Resolutions our team keeps a close eye on is Resolution 64 on “Internet protocol address allocation and facilitating the transition to and deployment of IPv6.” Reopening Resolutions and changing language is always risky, as any new language may change the prior understanding and balance achieved over the years, respecting each stakeholder’s role in Internet Governance.[1] It is important to recognize a shift in ITU’s member states’ position, moving away from the term transition, and instead encouraging deployment of IPv6, which ARIN definitely encourages.

World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC):

Work around the WTDC continued online for the whole year and was focused on the next WTDC, which should take place in Ethiopia from 9-18 November 2021, the first time the event will be held in Africa. Of note to ARIN, 2020 has put the ITU squarely in the UN’s digital society planning/implementation, as well as an inclusive use of ICTs/Internet development globally, to breach the ongoing digital divide. As a result, the ITU-D’s WTDC is forecasted to include a global youth program, other UN organizations, and private sector organizations that can advance the connectivity agenda globally. Resolutions of importance to our work will surely be re-opened (Resolution 11, 20, 23, 30,31, 32 …63 and more). ARIN has been an active participant in preparations alongside the many members of ITU-D from our region, not least of which include the Caribbean ones.

References:

For more information on “NewIP”, a good start would be this paper from ISOC and a statement from the IETF Chair. There are also articles in the media when you search for “NewIP”.

For more information on “Resolution 64” please see:

For more information on ” WTDC21 Resolutions” please see:


[1] https://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.html