The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) today announced the outcome of a jointly organized workshop in Bangkok, Thailand which addressed plans for the implementation and development of Next-Generation Networks (NGN) in the region.

With over 180 experts from 24 countries attending, including representatives of international organizations and the private sector, the forum was inaugurated by Mr Kraisorn Pornsutee, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Royal Government of Thailand.

NGN is a catch phrase for the network infrastructure that will enable advanced new services offered by mobile and fixed network operators in the future, while continuing to support all existing services. This next-generation architecture will help leverage new technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of market entry, increase flexibility and accommodate seamlessly in a single multiservice network both voice and data.

The ITU/APT Workshop on NGN Planning made some key recommendations:

Regulators and policy makers to provide clear and consistent enabling environments for NGN and be involved in the NGN planning, implementation and educational process.

Develop standardized planning tools to assist developing countries to migrate from traditional telecommunication networks to NGN.

Regulators to ensure that service providers meet agreed quality of service standards equivalent to traditional circuit switched voice networks.

NGN Requirements to include security levels that meet the needs of end users and provide confidence in the use of applications and services in NGN-compliant networks.

Establish NGN standards to make emergency and location-based services available seamlessly and reliably across the entire network.

Raise greater awareness on the various issues related to NGN planning.

Mr Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, told DaniWeb that “NGN has the potential to accelerate the deployment of telecommunication networks and services in developing countries." As cost and revenue are the drivers of this development, the capital cost of deploying NGN technology, both in the core of the network, and the operating costs are significantly lower than circuit switched technologies. "This will enable rapid expansion of network capabilities," Mr Johnson added. "NGN will also enable a range of multimedia services to be provided more easily and with less cost, and so increase potential revenues. It offers the opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog several generations of technology." He also stressed the importance of "bridging the standardization gap" by planning for NGN at regional levels.

Executive Director of APT, Mr Amarendra Narayan added "we need to urgently address the needs of the Asia-Pacific region for cost effective options of Broadband access while finalizing the international standardization framework for NGN. This is particularly important for developing countries and rural and remote areas. APT and ITU can play a key role in ascertaining Asia Pacific regional needs". He also pointed out that a range of APT programmes are already heavily involved in NGN standardization as well as policy and regulatory issues. This includes the work being undertaken by the Asia Pacific Telecommunity Standardization Programme (ASTAP) and associated policy and regulatory forums.

Considering the kind of broadband networking infrastructure already in place in this region, I am thinking places like South Korea and Singapore which have been pioneers in super-fast broadband roll out, I am intrigued as to what Next Generation Networking will actually consist of.

To be honest I would be happy with the kind of thing that South Korea has got already, and has had for a good few years now...