The concept of next-generation networks (NGN) was introduced to cover the new realities of telecommunications, including open competition encouraged by deregulation, the increasing demand for general mobility, and the explosion of digital traffic due to the Internet and demand for multimedia services.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) paved the way for NGN standardization with its Global Information Infrastructure (GII) project (see Lightwave, July 1996, p. 28). That led to a number of Recommendations in the Y series. Since implementation issues were not within the scope of GII, this work has to be supplemented by additional specifications and implementation guidelines dealing with realizations. That's the role of ITU-T's NGN Project, which is preparing its first Recommendations in the Y.2000 series.
At its February meeting in Geneva, ITU-T Study Group 13 adopted the following working definition of NGN: "A next-generation network is a packet-based network able to provide services, including telecommunication services, and able to make use of multiple broadband, quality of service-enabled transport technologies and in which service-related functions are independent from underlying transport-related technologies. It offers unrestricted access by users to different service providers. It supports general mobility which will allow consistent and ubiquitous provision of services to users."
A task of the NGN Project is to provide infrastructure and protocols for deploying and managing all kinds of services using all kinds of media, with bandwidths from a few kilobits per second to hundreds of megabits/second. NGN will support both existing and "NGN-aware" end-terminal devices, including analog telephone sets, fax machines, ISDN sets, cellular mobile phones, Ethernet phones through PCs, digital set-top boxes, and cable modems.
NGN is expected to fulfill the requirements of ITU-T Recommendations Y.110, Y.130, and Y.140 for open access to networks, fair competition, encouraging private investment, and ensuring universal provision of and access to services.
Dr. William B. Gardner represents OFS in ITU-T Working Party 4/15, where he serves as a Rapporteur. He can be reached at 770-798-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org.