Table of Contents

  • This handbook presents the ITU-T Recommendations on next generation networks in the context of the ongoing convergence of the telecommunications and media industries. Networks based on the use of the Internet Protocol (IP) are now not only being used to access information on the World Wide Web and to send email but to view television and listen to radio programmes, play games and to speak to each other. And all of these services are being provided to a single device, whether this is a personal computer or a mobile phone, as the distinction between these two popular types of terminal equipment becomes increasingly blurred. Next generation networks (NGNs) will support the convergence of services to fixed and mobile devices on an IP-based network infrastructure.

  • The most notable recent developments in telecommunications are the enormous popularity of mobile phones and the growth of the Internet. Mobile phones have not only been bought by billions of people worldwide but have become truly multimedia devices. The current generation of mobile "phones" incorporate cameras, music and video players, web browsers and TV receivers, illustrating the convergence of services on a single device and the blurring of differences between mobile phones and personal computers as mobile phones are increasingly being used to access the Internet. For its part, the Internet has become a common infrastructure supporting a very wide range of data, voice and audiovisual services. Today we expect to be able to use each and every service on any device in any location. The widespread use of mobile devices and the Internet has led to the situation in which these technologies have begun to mediate almost every aspect of our interpersonal and business relationships.

  • The Internet is often described as a "network of networks" arising from the interconnection of millions of commercial, academic, government and private networks that use the Internet Protocol (IP) to provide connectivity. Organizationally, the Internet has a "tiered" structure with Tier 1 networks at the core, to which Tier 2 networks are connected, to which in turn Tier 3 networks are connected. Tier 1 networks, of which there are about a dozen in the world, are interconnected with their peers on a settlement-free basis as they can provide large volumes of traffic. Tier 2 operators peer with some operators but pay Tier 1 operators to access some parts of the Internet and Tier 3 operators rely solely on transit capabilities provided by other operators. Internet eXchange Points (IXPs) allow direct communication between Internet service providers and reduce transit costs. There are about 400 IXPs in 87 countries [ITU Tel Reform].

  • Public telecommunication networks are expected to evolve into next generation networks that facilitate the convergence of networks and services on a packet-based infrastructure using IP technology. This is due to the widespread use of digital media; the increasing use of the Internet; the demands for mobility and for new multimedia services; and competition among operators.

  • The access network includes functions for the connection of user equipment to the network using a variety of technologies (such as cable, xDSL, wireless and optical) and also the aggregation of traffic from a number of users. For example, Supplement 6 to the Y.2000-series of Recommendations describes how the DSL (digital subscriber line) technology defined by the DSL Forum (now the Broadband Forum) can be used for NGN access. QoS control mechanisms, such as buffer management, queuing and scheduling, packet filtering, traffic classification, marking, policing and shaping, are supported in the access and core transport sections.

  • IMS is a good example of the cooperation between a number of standardization organizations in the production of a system specification. IMS was originally defined by the 3GPP as a system based upon the IETF SIP (session initiation protocol) specifications that were then adopted by ETSI TISPAN and the ITU-T for use in NGN.

  • Recommendation ITU-T Y.2212 describes the service and functional requirements of the managed delivery services (MDS) provided by an NGN provider to third-party providers via an ANI (application network interface). The MDS service concept, business model, management profiles and security are considered in this Recommendation.

  • Recommendation ITU-T Y.2701 states the security requirements for next generation networks and their interfaces (e.g., UNIs, NNIs and ANIs) by applying the principles described in Recommendation ITU-T X.805, Security architecture for systems providing end-to-end communications to Recommendations ITU-T Y.2201 (2007), NGN release 1 requirements, and ITU-T Y.2012 (2006), Functional requirements and architecture of the NGN release 1. The requirements apply to network-based security of end-user communications across multiple-network administrative domains. The security of customer assets and information in the customer domain are not within the scope of Recommendation ITU-T Y.2701.

  • Recommendation ITU-T Y.2401 (also published as Recommendation ITU-T M.3060) presents the requirements and general principles for managing next generation networks (NGNs) to support business processes to plan, provision, install, maintain, operate and administer NGN resources and services. The concepts of the next generation networks management (NGNM) architecture, i.e., its business process view, functional view, information view, and physical views; and their fundamental elements are defined. A framework is provided to derive the requirements for the specification of management physical views from the management functional and information views. A logical reference model for the partitioning of management functionality, the logical layered architecture (LLA), is also provided.

  • Recommendation ITU-T Y.2233 provides the technical requirements and a framework for accounting and charging capabilities within NGN.

  • The Internet of things is another example of the convergence of previously separate information and communication technologies – in this case a merging of product identity labelling (RFID), process control (sensor networks), wireless and network interconnection (the Internet). Radio frequency identification (RFID) has developed from the bar coding of products and has been primarily used in inventory control applications. Objects are tagged with identifiers and short-range wireless technology is used to read this information and also to write application data to the tag in some cases. Sensor networks have been deployed in industrial process control and would in many cases benefit from local or wide area network interconnection for control, maintenance and data collection. Wireless networks are being designed specifically for sensor networks that are being integrated in the Internet by use of the Internet protocol. The Internet of things will consist of tagged objects and networked readers, writers, sensors and actuators. As in other cases of convergence, a number of organizations from the previously separate industry segments are involved in the specification of systems and their standardization. This leads to some overlap as each of the players working from their particular area of expertise look at the broader scenario of the Internet of things and also provides an incentive to international standardization organizations to harmonize specifications addressing similar issues as there is a bewildering array of standards from many organizations. A 2008 European study on RFID alone noted that more than 250 standards describing RFID-related solutions had been established by around 30 different organizations [CE RFID].

  • The nature of telecommunication regulation has changed radically over the past 30 years. Although telecommunication services were often provided by private companies in a competitive environment in the early years of the history of telephony, by the mid-20th century the provision of telecommunication services was generally considered to be a natural monopoly and regulated as such. A natural monopoly exists if "the economies of scale are such that to have more than one company in the market would increase units costs" and so "be detrimental to consumers" [Hills]. Telecommunication services were therefore regulated to ensure that a monopoly position was not abused and also to reach social welfare goals. Operators were private or state-owned companies or even government departments. Telecommunication regulation could then be defined as "the substitution of rules made by government for the competition of the market" [Hills]. This could involve detailed intervention in the business of the network operator by setting the rates of return upon investment, tariffs or even deciding which services could be offered.

  • Next generation networks will be based on an Internet protocol infrastructure. As can be seen in this handbook, ITU-T Recommendations specify a complete system architecture that includes transport, services and applications. The support of telephony and video services (such as IPTV) is emphasized as well as the convergence of fixed and mobile services.