International Telecommunication Union: All You Need to Know

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The International Telecommunication Union or the ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations made for information and communication technologies.  It was originally known as the International Telegraph Union and is one of the oldest international organizations.  Its headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland.

What Are The Roles Of The International Telecommunication Union?

The main functions of the ITU include allocating the global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, setting technical standards for telecommunications technologies, promoting and developing access and infrastructures of ITU’s globally and in areas of need as well as researching, collecting and publishing trends and developments in the sphere of global telecommunications.

The Three Main Sectors Of The ITU

The ITU is made up of three main areas of activity, each taking care of different roles handled by the Union.

Radio Communication (ITU-R)

This sector manages the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbit resources globally. When you use your radio, satellite GPS, make calls on your smart-phone, and countless other actions, you are using one of the services looked after by this sector.

ITU-R conferences and study group activities are where important work is done on mobile broadband communications and broadcasting technologies and are given bureaucratic assistance by the Radio communication Bureau (BR).

Standardization (ITU-T)

ITU-T’s main role is to set standards for all fields of telecommunications and Information Communication Technology worldwide. It also defines tariff and accounting principles for international telecommunication services.

Setting standards globally for communication is extremely important as it ensures that there is consistency in the exchanges between ICT’s (information and communication technologies) when video audio or any other data is exchanged. These standards ensure that the exchange of information occurs efficiently over different countries and their devices.

The development of standards is done by Study Groups, and new areas of research are developed by Focus Groups while the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) acts as the executive administrative body.

Development (ITU-D)

This sector aims to develop and foster equitable, sustainable, and affordable access to information and communication technologies (ICT) in developing countries. It undertakes projects and creates funding opportunities to facilitate and enhance telecommunication systems and ICT’s.

Its objectives include building confidence and trust in the use of telecommunication and ICT services, increasing digital inclusion and assistance to countries in need, and enhancing environmental protection using among several others. Research and proposals for development are led by Study groups with the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) providing bureaucratic assistance.

Who Are The Members Of The International Telecommunications Union?

The ITU comprises of the Member States, Sector Members, and Associates.

Member States

All Member States that are part of the United Nations are allowed membership into the ITU. Currently, there are 193 member states, and each member state is allowed to vote at the proceedings.

Sector members

Sector Members are organizations that are part of the ITU. There are currently over 900 sector members. Although these organizations are unable to vote, they are part of the proceedings and discussions that take place.

These organizations include industry-related organizations such as carriers, equipment manufacturers, funding bodies, research and development organizations as well as international and regional organizations.

Associates and Academia

Associates and Academia also come under Sector Members and are any other interested organizations or research groups. They have the right to take part in some activities of the sectors with which they are associated (e.g. the meetings of an individual study group).

General Governance Of The ITU

The general governance is done by the Plenipotentiary Conference, which meets every four years to amend the ITU Constitution and Convention and also plans and adopts policies. They also elect the members of the other organs.

Summing Up

The International Telecommunication Union is an agency whose mission is to effectively help connect and foster communication and technology all over the world.  It is involved in upholding global standards, evolving with technological trends, and connecting people and countries in need.

The next time all of us operate a phone, television, radio, or any other communication device, we can appreciate the work of the International Telecommunication Union.