International Telecommunication Union (ITU)


Some of the information on this Web page has been provided by external sources. The Government of Canada is not responsible for the accuracy, reliability or currency of the information supplied by external sources. Users wishing to rely upon this information should consult directly with the source of the information. Content provided by external sources is not subject to official languages, privacy and accessibility requirements.


Role and Work of the Union


The International Telecommunication Union is unique among international organizations in that it was founded on the principle of cooperation between governments and the private sector. With a membership encompassing telecommunication policy-makers and regulators, network operators, equipment manufacturers, hardware and software developers, regional standards-making organizations and financing institutions, ITU's activities, policies and strategic direction are determined and shaped by the industry it serves.

Structure and Activities

The three Sectors of the Union – Radiocommunication (ITU-R), Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T), and Telecommunication Development (ITU-D) – work today to build and shape tomorrow's networks and services. Their activities cover all aspects of telecommunication, from

  • setting standards that facilitate seamless interworking of equipment and systems on a global basis
  • adopting operational procedures for the vast and growing array of wireless services
  • and,
  • designing programmes to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world

Each of the three ITU Sectors works through conferences and meetings, where members negotiate the agreements which serve as the basis for the operation of global telecommunication services.

Plenipotentiary Conference

The supreme authority of the Union is the Plenipotentiary Conference, a meeting composed of delegations from the Union's Member States, held every four years to adopt the underlying policies of the organization and determine its structure and activities.


The role of the Council is to consider, in the interval between plenipotentiary conferences, broad telecommunication policy issues to ensure that the Union's activities, policies and strategies fully respond to today's dynamic, rapidly changing telecommunication environment. It also prepares the ITU strategic plan.

ITU Council Working Groups

Organization of Council Working Groups

The Council Working Groups were created at the Plenipotentiary in 2002.

These groups will report separately on each of their activities.

  • will review the functions of the three ITU Sectors;
  • consider the obligations of Sector Members;
  • study the current structure, working methods and procedures of the Sectors;
  • will examine the functioning of the Coordination Committee including the tasks of the Deputy Secretary-General and the role of the other elected officials;
  • will examine the method by which the amount of the contributory unit and of the financial contributions of Sector Members and Associates should be determined;
  • the appropriate proportion between the financial contributions of Sector Members and Associates and those of Member States;
  • the financial consequences of denunciation; and
  • will review all the relevant provisions of the basic texts of the Union concerning observers.

Council Group on Financial Regulations

The Council Working Group on Financial Regulations was established in 2003 to review and recommend appropriate modifications to the Financial Regulations of the Union. The mandate was extended in 2004 to include the review of the Management of the Union, the recommendation of the consultancy project and the report of the New Council Oversight Group with a view to harmonize their respective activities.
[ Council Group on Financial Regulations ]

New Council Oversight Group (NCOG)

The Group was established following the June 2004 Council session, with a mandate, composition and working methods of the Council Oversight Group to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Specialists.
[ New Council Oversight Group ]

Council Group on World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

The Council Working Group on WSIS is open to all Member States and Sector Members.

Canada reviews the preparatory activities of the ITU in preparation to the Summit; develops an information document on the functions of ITU in relation to the Summit; considers ITU's contribution relating to developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.
[ Council Group on World Summit on the Information Society ]

Council Group on International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs)

The Council Working Group on ITRs was established in 2002 to review the ITRs and to report to Council 2005 for transmission to the 2006 Plenipotentiary Conference. Members are to study ITRs and prepare recommendations on which provisions, if any, should be terminated, retained in the ITRs, transferred to the Constitution or Convention, or embodied in ITU Recommendations.
[ Council Group on International Telecommunication Regulations ]

Council Ad Hoc Group On Cost Recovery for Satellite Network Filings (SATBAG)

This ad hoc group, established in 2002, continues to consider the alternative basis for charging that does not depend on numbers of pages. It will also determine the factors to be considered for evaluation, as well as practical implications of applying cost attribution to activities associated with processing satellite network filings towards application of full cost recovery.
[ Ad Hoc Group of Council on Cost Recovery for Satellite Network Filings ]

Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R)

World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC)

World radiocommunication conferences are international treaty-making conferences held under the auspices of ITU's Radiocommunication Sector. WRC revise and update the Radio Regulations, which govern the use of the spectrum by a growing number of services worldwide.
[ World Radiocommunication Conference ]

Radiocommunication Assembly (RA)

Radiocommunication assemblies (RA) are responsible for approving the programme of work for the ITU-R study groups, for setting up the structures required to carry out this work, for making work assignments (including conference preparatory work and radiocommunication studies), and for determining the priority, urgency and time-frame for completion of studies.
[ Radiocommunication Assembly ]

Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM)

The Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM) prepares a consolidated report concerning regulatory, technical, operational and procedural matters to be used in support of the work of World and Regional Radiocommunication Conferences.

ITU-R Study Groups

The radiocommunication study groups study questions, such as use of the radio-frequency spectrum in terrestrial and space radiocommunication and of the geostationary-satellite and other satellites orbits; characteristics and performance of radio systems; operation of radio stations; and radiocommunications aspects of distress and safety matters.
[ ITU-R Study Groups ]

Radiocommunication Advisory Group (RAG)

The Radiocommunication Advisory Group (RAG) reviews the priorities and strategies adopted by the ITU-R Sector; monitors progress of the work of the Study Groups; provides guidance for the work of the Study Groups; and recommends measures for fostering cooperation and coordination with other organizations and with other ITU Sectors.

Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T)

World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA)

World telecommunication standardization assembly approve the work programme of ITU-T and determine the priorities, urgency and time-frame for completion of work relating to the preparation of standards. Assemblies also approve, modify or reject draft ITU-T Recommendations (de facto standards) and consider the reports of the study groups and the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group. In addition, they decide on the structure of study groups and on the allocation of Questions to be studied by each study group. To facilitate the participation of developing countries in the work of ITU-T study groups, the Assembly aims to identify and group together Questions of interest to developing countries. A world telecommunication standardization assembly is held every four years.
[ World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly ]

ITU-T Study Groups

The 13 study groups of ITU-T cover a huge range of topics relating to the smooth and efficient functioning of a growing range of telecommunication equipment and services. Topics covered include numbering systems, multimedia services and systems, network and service operation, tariff and accounting principles, telecommunication network management systems, signalling, transmission and transport systems, data networks, and new value-added services such as universal international freephone numbers.
[ ITU-T Study Groups ]

Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG)

The Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) assists the Director of TSB by regularly reviewing the priorities, programmes and strategies of the Sector, providing guidelines for the work of the study groups, and working to foster inter-organization cooperation with other relevant standardization bodies, including industry forums and consortia. Comprising representatives from the ITU Member States and ITU-T Sector Members who participate on an equal footing, TSAG meets as often as necessary, but at least once a year.
[ Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group ]

Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)

World Telecommunications Development Conference (WTDC)

World Telecommunication Development Conferences (WTDC) are convened every four years with the purpose of reviewing the progress made in telecommunication in developing countries and to establish ICT development priorities, strategies and Action Plans for the future. Priority is accorded to the expansion and modernization of networks, the mobilization of resources and regulatory reform needed to boost telecommunication penetration and access in the world's poorer countries.
[ World Telecommunications Development Conference ]

ITU-D Study Groups

ITU-D manages two study groups: one in the area of strategy and policy and the other in development and management. These groups serve as a forum for developing and developed countries and public and private sector organizations to meet, with the purpose of devising innovative solutions which address specific problem areas as identified by the World Telecommunication Development Conference

Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG)

The Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG) advises the Director of BDT on the formulation of strategies for the Development Sector and on the preparation and implementation of BDT's budget and operational plan. TDAG reviews priorities, programmes, operations, financial matters and strategies relating to the activities of the Sector. TDAG also reviews progress in the implementation of the Sector's work programme, provides guidelines for the work of study groups and proposes measures aimed at fostering cooperation and coordination with development and financial institutions.
[ Telecommunication Development Advisory Group ]

ITU Telecom

ITU Telecom has been responsible for showcasing many of the technological advances that we now take for granted – ISDN, satellite broadcasting systems, digital and optical switching systems, ATM, cellular telephony, and most recently IP telephony, the Internet, and third-generation mobile. Many of these new technologies have proved an enormous boom to developing countries, which can use them to tackle chronic problems that have long hindered network growth.

ITU Telecom brings together the most influential representatives of government and the telecommunications industry for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and technology for the benefit of the global community, and in particular the developing world. [ ITU Telecom ]