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Expanded name

International Telecommunications Union

Date of establishment

Founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, the International Telecommunication Union took its present name in 1934 and became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1947.


http://www.itu.int [external]


The ITU is an international organization, within which governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services. The ITU adopts international regulations and treaties governing all terrestrial and space uses of the frequency spectrum as well as the use of the geostationary-satellite orbit, within which countries adopt their national legislation. It also develops standards to facilitate the interconnection of telecommunication systems on a worldwide scale regardless of the type of technology used.

The ITU fosters the development of telecommunications in developing countries, by establishing medium-term development policies and strategies in consultation with other partners in the sector and by providing specialized technical assistance in the areas of telecommunication policies, the choice and transfer of technologies, management, financing of investment projects and mobilization of resources, the installation and maintenance of networks, the management of human resources as well as research and development.

A copy of ITU's strategic plan for the 1999-2003 period can be found here [external]. The Working Group on ITU Reform [external] that was set up in 1998 submitted its Final report to ITU Council 2001.

Areas of Activity

ITU conducts its operations in three sectors:

  • ITU-D: Telecommunication Development Sector
    The ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau has established programmes of activities to facilitate connectivity and access, foster policy, regulatory and network readiness, expand human capacity through training programmes, formulate financing strategies and e-enable enterprises in developing countries.
  • ITU-R: Radiocommunication Sector
    ITU-R is responsible for all ITU's work in the field of radio communication.
  • ITU-T: Telecommunication Standardization Sector
    ITU-T is responsible for telecommunications standardization. It studies technical, operating and tariff questions, and adopts Recommendations on them with a view to standardizing telecommunications on a worldwide basis. The predecessor of ITU-T was CCITT; several CCITT Recommendations are still current.

ITU also organizes the Telecom World Exhibition every four years in Geneva and regional Telecom events in various parts of the world.


The ITU membership comprises of Member State Administrations (189). Sector membership (656) comprises of Recognized operating agencies, Scientific or industrial organizations, Financial or development institutions, Other entities dealing with telecommunication matters, and Regional and other international organizations (56), Regional telecommunication organizations (11), Intergovernmental organizations operating satellite systems (6) and United Nations and its specialized agencies. A few are members of all sectors. Some sectors are beginning to accept Associate members.

ISO/IEC 9594-8: Public-key and Attribute Certificate Frameworks
ISO/IEC 9834-8: Universally Unique Identifiers (UUIDs)