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International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

I. Core Areas

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications. It was established in 1865 as an impartial, international organization within which governments and the private sector could coordinate the operation of telecommunication networks and services, and advance the development of information and communication technology (ICT). Today, ITU is also devoting considerable effort to bridging the digital divide and bringing the benefits of ICT to all. The ITU is mandated by its Constitution to “extend the benefits of the new telecommunication technologies to all the world’s inhabitants.” For the past 144 years, the International Telecommunication Union has worked to harmonize national policies worldwide, bridge technological differences, foster interoperability and to facilitate the availability of information and communication technologies on a global basis.

ITU comprises three core Sectors: Radiocommunication (ITU-R), Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T), and Telecommunication Development (ITU-D). The activities of these Sectors cover all aspects of telecommunication, from setting the international standards that facilitate interoperability of equipment and systems on a global basis, to building consensus on management and operational procedures for the world’s vast and growing array of wireless services, to implementing programmes designed to improve telecommunication infrastructure and capacity building in the developing world.

The Union is also playing a policy-making role4 through the identification and monitoring of the key trends shaping the ICT industry. Information from around the globe is collected and analyzed by ITU experts, with a view to fostering a better understanding of industry developments and helping public and private sector members develop effective strategies that target growth opportunities. The ITU serves as an impartial international forum for dialogue between government and industry players on technology, policy and economic issues, for the benefit of the global telecommunication community.

The ITU’s work has helped to build a US$1 trillion industry built around a seamlessly interconnected global network that integrates a huge range of technologies and forms the foundation of the emerging Information Society. ITU is also responsible for organizing ITU TELECOM, the world’s largest and most influential portfolio of telecommunication exhibitions and forums which bring together leading ICT companies, regulators, financiers, analysts and top-level government representatives. The Organization is led by a Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, and has over 700 staff members. The budget of ITU for 2008-2009 amounted to over US$303,7 million.

II. Engagement with External Actors

ITU’s membership encompasses telecommunication policy-makers and regulators, network operators, equipment manufacturers, hardware and software developers, regional standard-making organizations and financing institutions. Its activities, policies and strategic direction are determined by governments and shaped by the industry it serves. Membership provides governments and private organizations with an opportunity to make important contributions to the ICT developments now reshaping the world.5

As part of its developments efforts, ITU launched a new initiative called Connect the World. This new partnership programme is a global multi-stakeholder effort designed to consolidate and scale-up existing development-oriented connectivity projects and stimulate new partnerships to achieve the goal of connecting all communities by 2015. ITU is also the lead organization for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in two Phases: Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005.

Private Sector

From its earliest days, ITU has worked closely with the private sector to develop and deploy ICT networks that meet the demands of users.

ITU Sector Members Sector Members in the three ITU Sectors are the driving force behind ITU’s leadership in developing the technical standards that assure global inoperability and the equitable use of shared resources like radio frequency spectrum and the satellite orbit. These representatives from the world’s leading public and private organizations work cooperatively under the auspices of a wide range of specialized ITU Study Groups, giving of their time and expertise freely for the benefit of the industry as a whole. Sector Members also enjoy access to important ITU conferences and meetings, where top-level decision makers and potential partners engage in discussions that can result in new business opportunities or joint ventures. Sector Members can also be involved in the organization and co-sponsorship of ITU seminars and workshops, providing experts and lecturers, training facilities, and other resources.

ITU Associates In 1998, the concept of “Associate” was introduced as a way for small entities or organizations to participate in ITU’s work. Associates may take part in the process of preparing ITU technical Recommendations within a single ITU Study Group and its subordinate groups, including participation in meetings, submission of contributions, and ability to submit comments before the adoption of Recommendations.

Communication Tools and Resources In addition to publicly available information on the ITU website, Sector Members and Associates also have access to a large volume of restricted data such as draft documents, statistics, development plans, training modules, etc. In addition, Sector Members receive invitations with related documentation to all ITU events. Sector Members and Associates also benefit from a TIES (Telecom Information Exchange Services) account that allows them to access restricted databases, documents and technical databases.

III. Organizational Resources

Contact Info

Name: Mr. Luiz Fernando Ferreira Da Silva
Title: Head, External Affairs and Corporate Communication
Address: Place des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Telephone: +41-22-730-5601
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IV. Information Resources

* ITU Website
* ITU’s Strategy and Policy Unit
* ITU Membership
* Sector Members, Associates and Academia

Additional Resources
* The ITU Global Directory

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