back to article International Telecom Union drags self out of past

There's plenty wrong with the International Telecommunication Union, but formal proposals here at its quadrennial Plenipotentiary congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, prove that many attendees want to fix the creaky United Nations' agency. Those proposals show that the ITU is aware of its problems: its closed nature, its budgeting …


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  1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Just Glancing At The...

    ...headers. Hmmm Oh, My!

    He is right, every piece of spam in my inbox came from an IP ADDRESS.

  2. Mike Shepherd

    "On the plus side"

    Most commercial organisations, of course, can't afford so many negatives: if they don't get almost everything right, they're out of business.

    It's unfortunate that we pay for such bodies, but the real world rolls on, led by "de facto" standards, which the ITU must, in due course, accept.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Real World

      I can name a bunch of big IT players who have lost more on badly managed projects than the NHS has spent on hot dinners.

      Let's put this market efficiency nonsense back in the big box marked "lies", eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        NHS hot dinners.

        It wouldn't be difficult to spend more than the NHS on hot dinners. I suspect i've probably committed higher levels of funding than that myself. I say that simply because the "food" is the same cardboard and recycled boot leather that schools serve.

        What can I say. I did a contract with the NHS once. The small bakery nearby the building must have been kept in business solely by the NHS staff avoiding the canteen.

        Anon, in case I end up working there again someday. I'd hate to find out what the food is like when the catering staff are intentionally *trying* to poison you.

  3. JB

    Interesting article

    The only other time I've seen the ITU mentioned was on old postage stamps, that's how relevant it sees to me and, I'm sure, many other people.

  4. peter 5 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I didn't know El Reg had a bureaucracy desk. But I'm glad it does. Thanks for the reports Kieren.

  5. E 2

    JB, Mike Shepherd

    JB: You might be interested to learn that the agreements and protocols that make the phone system work internationally are largely products of the ITU. Are you interested to learn?

    Mr. Shepherd: certainly, however in the grand scheme of things, the cost of the ITU is down at the bottom of the spreadsheet along with such things as the WHO, war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia, and other useless things that ost too much.

  6. Nathan Meyer

    The ITU Have A Certain Set Of Expectations

    The old men at the ITU are stuck trying to adhere to their original charter, which was to produce secure and reliable communications systems with clearly defined API and protocols.

    The progressive younger members don't even know what that means.

    It was once said that the problem with guided evolution and eugenics was that a group of Gorillas would never work towards developing a human being. It would be beyond their conception.

    Similarly, those who come from the modern mashup of Unix and Darpanet can't understand what those poor ancient bastards are still striving for at the ITU.

    1. Oninoshiko

      don't blame UNIX, look to linux...

      Clearly you have never been on the receiving end of a POSIX compliance and/or reverse compatibility rant from Jorg Schilling.

  7. Yes Me Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Mr Kiswari

    Having had personal experience with the honourable permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, I would like to complain that this article doesn't do him justice. He's so much more than Kieran reports that he can only be understood as self-caricature. I guess the laws of libel have to be considered. Anyway ... BRILLIANT report. Please enjoy Guadalajara. If you step out for a day or two, Nabil Kisrawi will still be spouting the same guff when you get back (allegedly).

    Since I've been hearing from the ITU that it's about to reform itself since 1995, I do advise against holding your breath waiting for those reforms.

  8. Mike Flex

    Re: The ITU Have A Certain Set Of Expectations

    Around 1995 I was sent off on some X.500 courses (party on) taught by a senior ITU figure. He claimed the ITU had solved problems the IETF didn't even realise they faced. 15 years on he seems to have been right, though out in the market place it's another case of VHS vs Betamax.

  9. Tom Samplonius
    Thumb Up

    Re: The ITU Have A Certain Set Of Expectations

    "The old men at the ITU are stuck trying to adhere to their original charter, which was to produce secure and reliable communications systems with clearly defined API and protocols. The progressive younger members don't even know what that means."

    Clearly this article struck a nerve for you, as likely one of those old guards. It is not too late to change. Clearly, the TCP/IP was the better protocol. And OSI was probably unimplementable. ITU specs simply don't work. And it the height of irony to support the ITU, after the failure of OSI, on a website accessible over TCP/IP, not OSI, and using DNS, rather than X.500.

    And the stuff they have actually put out, is bizarrely complex. Look at the SS7 international standards. Even country has their own specs, that have to translated to a international spec, and back again. The only way to make this secure and reliable, is a lot of money. Thankfully, SIGTRAN (an IETF protocol) will likely subsume SS7 at some point.

    I love the quote from RFC2693: "The X.500 idea of a distinguished name (a single, globally unique name that everyone could use when referring to an entity) is also not likely to occur."

  10. Anonymous Coward

    "you have trouble figuring out exactly what it is you are putting in your mouth"

    My guess is that it probably wasn't food...

  11. Wombat

    What's the address ...

    ... of that Hilton Hotel again?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be fair...

    ..although a dinosaur, thye do eventually get things to work. Without the ITU, The US wouldn't be able to call most of the world, BT customers wouldn't be able to call Europe and so on and so on.

    Yes they are dinosaurs, but when you have to deal with incomptance and stubbornence on an national scale, it's nice to see people dig there heels in and say no.

  13. Not Fred31

    ITU=A problem in search of a problem in search of a solution

    The ITU had a reason for existing in the past - it harmonised telephone numbering, <selfcensorship>but it is not entirely blameless</selfcensorship> in much of the corruption in the telecoms world. Even today it shamelessly offers "cash for access" to decision-makers on its website.

    If the ITU disappeared tomorrow, the world would be a better place.

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