This summer the attention of Russian media and public became riveted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – a well-known internationally recognized organization which has never been involved in anything that would draw the attention of mass media, or would cause it to shake with spectacular scandals. In a word, it is not the same as FIFA, UNESCO, or CIA. The elections of the ITU’s secretary-general, which took place in September, were held with the participation of Russian candidate Rashid Ismailov. Given this, we would like to know more about the ITU and its cooperation with Russia.
- Viktor, You have been a member of the Russian delegation to the International Telecommunication Union for eight years. Could You tell us what the ITU is like now, and what it should be like, if, for some reasons, You think that it is not what it should be?
- Yes, I have been with the ITU since 2014. I was invited to join the delegation by my colleagues from Radio Research Institute (NIIR). This is our head institute, a research hub of the entire wireless communication industry. For years, NIIR has been the place where the core of the Russian delegation is formed, which is important, because, speaking of the ITU and Russia, one cannot but mention the NIIR. Experts from other enterprises of the industry join in depending on the agenda. Russia is thus represented by a team of highly qualified professionals, so we have something to discuss at joint sessions.
As a member of the delegation I take part in sessions of the 6th Study Group (SG-6) of ITU’s Radio Communication Sector and Working Group 6А - «Ground-based delivery of radio broadcasting programs» at SG-6.
The format of the events which are held by the Study Group-6 and its composition make it similar to an international industrial forum on broadcasting services. A forum which is far from ordinary, which is the world’s most authoritative and plenipotent in standardizing television and radio broadcasting. Our legendary colleague Mark Krivosheyev believed that SG-6 is the ITU’s most important group, if we are to take into account the number of planet residents whose interests are affected by its decisions.
- Let’s first decide what is the ITU and what is “Study Group” in the context of the ITU.
- The ITU, which was founded in 1865, is the oldest international organization of all those operating today.
- Provided we do not take into account monastic orders, Masonic lodges, pirate cities…
- Well, yes… And would you imagine, throughout nearly 170 years the Telecommunication Union has been evolving, without being subjected to drastic administrative changes. The ITU serves as a good reminder for us as to how people perceived international cooperation in the 19th century. But this is not to say that the ITU is archaic or evokes pathetic tears. It is different in principle. In the 19th century the planet was not such a crammed place as it is now, and the pace of life was much slower, the world was not as global as now. It is really hard to imagine what it was like in those days.
The appearance of the electric telegraph in the early 19th century inspired European scientists and engineers, the forefathers of present-day communication workers, stirring their creativity. The possibility of transmitting two elementary symbols – a dot and a dash – over a distance immediately led to the idea of engulfing the entire humanity with communication network! Unbelievable, how such a thought could occur to people in those days. It is the same as if the inventor of the wheel began to think of a space flight. But they did come together to set up an organization which would “connect the whole world”. Thanks to respect for tradition, the ITU stayed committed to the idea and since 1865 has maintained the slogan: Committed to connecting the world.
- But, you have just said that the world has changed beyond recognition since then and the planet has become a crowded place, with little room… At present, people tend to break apart rather than come together. Or they tap the markets, vying for resources.
- Let’s consider the second, more important factor pertaining to the creation of the ITU. This is equally unthinkable: the founders of the organization, even though they had nothing specific or fulfilled to rely on except the electric telegraph, succeeded in figuring out the key principle on which the work of a communication union could hinge: international standardization and coordination. They inferred that successful development of wireless communication technologies and their maximum efficiency and effectiveness depended on compatibility of equipment, the measurement systems which would be common for all, and a fair distribution and mutually beneficial exploitation of the resources needed – in the first place, radio frequencies. They became aware of all this in the middle of the 19th century, when there was no-th-ing at all. Now we can see how important these issues are for a smooth functioning of communication networks.
It is the International Telecommunication Union that is the central organ of standardization and coordination in the communication sector on the planet Earth. Given the current state of development, the ITU comprises three large departments – known as “sectors”: ITU-D (Telecommunication Development Sector), ITU-T (Telecommunication Standardization Sector) and ITU-R (Radio Communication Sector). Since I work in the radio sector, I do know a thing or two what ITU-R is like and what kind of activity it is involved in, whereas ITU-D and ITU-T are sectors I am less familiar with.
- One tends to feel an onslaught of panic over such mind-boggling abbreviations as: SG-6, SEDM, 6А… Is this common practice for communication and radio workers?
- I cannot see anything horrible in these abbreviations and this terminology. I would like to remind you that business culture in the communication sector took shape when the entire language of “international communication” consisted of dots and dashes.
Study Groups are permanently operating groups within each of the Sectors. The Radio Communication Sector consists of six Study Groups, which serve the needs of radio communication: Spectrum Management (SG1), Radio Wave Propagation (SG3), Satellite Services (SG4), Ground Services (SG5), Broadcasting Services (SG6) and Research Services (SG7).
These groups, in turn, consist of Working Groups. The Radio Communication Sector has six Study Groups and 21 Working Groups. Working Groups are believed to be more mobile, and I think they should undergo changes every four years, so that they could match the changing reality and the ITU’s research projects. I, for one, have been a member of Working Group 6A “Ground-Based Delivery of Radio Broadcasting Programs” throughout all my eight years with the ITU.
6А is an internal code within the ITU, there is nothing snobbish or threatening in this code. «Ground delivery» means that a radio signal is not transmitted underground via a cable, and is not transmitted very high above the ground (via satellite). Among the key issues which the group has been trying to address in recent years is transition from analogue to digital radio and protection of radio broadcasting services against interferences from unlicensed devices.
The ITU’s working groups gather for two-week sessions twice a year. Before the Covid pandemic these sessions all took place in Geneva. Since 2020 they have been held online. The working day of Study Groups lasts eight hours. Every session ends with a plenary meeting in which all the participants approve documents proposed by groups and commissions. A decision on any document is taken only by consensus. The Russian participants have been working really hard and I am sure they make a remarkable contribution to the projects of the Organization.
- What are «documents» of the International Telecommunication Union?
The ITU produces documents in the format of “Recommendations”. Every Recommendation is an impressive piece of research, carried out by a large number of participants, often in several countries. In simple language, a recommendation is … recommendation.
A group of researchers reports to the world that after reflecting on the issue of how, from which side, it would be better to break an egg, they deduced that an egg should be broken on the side, better by using a stapler. It’s a thoroughly thought piece of research, provided with all sorts of argumentation, meticulous and voluminous, with reports, protocols, graphs, tables, schemes, etc. That’s it. As a result, the world learns about all this and does not stay the same - it changes.
Reports on research, experiments, projects are published at the initiative of the participants. Some of the participants in the Working Group arrive for a regular session with the results of recent research (experiments, trials). In the ITU language, it is known as “contribution”.
In SG6 every contribution passes a multi-stage discussion. In general, as you see, all these contributions are all but initiative. But in the course of preliminary hearings the Working Group relies on a filtering method to separate the essential from the non-essential: this is the general agenda of the ITU, projects in the development of telecommunication, which the ITU deems significant. The proposed initiative should fit in with any of the research projects announced for the present period. This helps to maintain control of chaos in the creative thinking of communication workers, and to adjust the progressive development of telecommunication networks. In addition, it provides the criteria for assessing the in-coming proposals: they must possess a certain amount of novelty compared to the already known outcomes. I experienced this myself: it so happened that I joined the Russian delegation with a ready contribution.
- Interesting, could You tell us more about it?
- It was 2014. Running throughout Russia was a state-initiated telecommunication development program, which focused, in fact, on the transition of the Russian television from analogue to digital technology. All across the country they were creating digital television infrastructure. By 2014 the construction had come to a close in three regions, if I am not mistaken. Some regions, on the contrary, were waiting for their turn. While work was in full swing in 70-75 regions. And even though the campaign ran into a variety of obstacles, it was invariably saved by rescue decisions, which led to an accumulation of vital experience.
I should say that one of the worst headaches of all “ground” communication workers is the deficit of radio frequencies and the ensuing need to effectively manage the resources. And we at RTRN are thinking about it all the time, looking for efficiency boosting options.
The network which appeared right before our eyes was designed in such a way that every group of transmitters broadcast a tele signal on one frequency. The neighboring group of transmitters broadcast a tele signal on a different frequency. This model is known as Single Frequenсу Network, or SFN. Every group of transmitters is a fairly sound one: it could embrace ten, twenty, thirty rebroadcasting transmitters, each covering a radius of approximately fifty kilometers. A vast territory, isn’t it? Now, if we name these frequencies A and B, it becomes clear that the first group of tele broadcasting transmitters use Frequency A and does not use Frequency B so as not to create interferences and cause problems with the neighbors. The second groups of transmitters use B, not A, but the frequency is still there, available.
The idea was to make use of frequencies that could not be used for television for technical needs, namely, for the technical transportation of multiplexes to rebroadcasting transmitters. In Russia, they often use space communication, occasionally optic fiber, for these needs. However, a reserve system of delivery is vital if we are to guarantee an uninterrupted operation of the network. Satellites and optic fiber are too expensive to be used for a reserve.
We carried out an experiment in Krasnodar, where we had built a wide-ranging network by 2014. The rebroadcasting transmitters were provided with low-power transmitters which had narrowly-focused antennas for the technical delivery of tele programs to rebroadcasting transmitters within one SFN-group. In one single-frequency zone Frequency A broadcasts tele programs to the viewers, while another zone is used as a transportation network for technical delivery. The narrow focus of the antennas coupled with the low power of the transmitters (10-20W) guaranteed electro-magnetic compatibility of the equipment, that is, in simple language, absence of interferences for the transmitters which delivered tele signal to the viewers. The trials in Krasnodar confirmed that.
…At this point one should expect a triumphant final chord, right? Something like: «The proposed solution is cost efficient in terms of expenditures, it makes it possible to effectively use the frequency resource, boosts the reliability of the tele network, reduces dependency on satellites»?
Yes, but the Russian delegation had first to propose a research project within the ITU which would interest the colleagues. And it so happened that we found an American delegation, somewhere “on the fringes” of the ITU, which was trying to find something as well. It should be noted that even in such a sector as communication the Americans are our antipodes. They do everything in a different way. In general, we would turn to anyone for help to suggest a solution to our problems, except the Americans. But an encounter on the fringes of the ITU enabled us to exchange a couple of words and it turned out that the Americans too had arrived at the ITU with a project on the use of low-power transmitters. That project was not the same as ours because the Americans have different traditions, different problems, but if the problems are identical, the solutions are different.
But we coincided on the “low-power transmitters”. The Americans told us that the ITU had a sector which focused on the application of low-power television systems and we resolved to join efforts. And even though it was the end of 2014, after the Crimean Spring, nothing could stop us. Once telecoms people get connected, there’s no stopping them. Throughout November 2014 we were busy working out working documentation for the project, and in February 2015 we triumphantly presented our joint Recommendation with a wide range of proposals on the use of low-power television systems. Considering that in their development global communications follow either the American scenario, or the European one, of which Russia is part, it becomes clear that such a joint document can offer a solution to nearly any country. Life demonstrates once again that it’s unification, not separation, of efforts, that produces good results.
- And how did the RTRN create a reserve transport network on the basis of this Recommendation?
- Well, it will take time. In Russia, we are required to go to the State Radio Frequency Center for a rare document titled “private solution”, a kind of a mandate for the introduction of non-standard technology, which is not stipulated by the existing regulations. ITU Recommendations are, by the way, not legally binding, so it’s up to a country to employ or discard them.
- How is that? What’s the point of doing all this then?
Keywords: coordination and standardization. The industry operates in such a manner that Recommendations are vital for its work and countries snap them “like hot cakes” and use them at home. This is inherent with the nature of telecommunication. Communication was designed to unite people. Condition One: compatibility of devices and systems. Compatibility, if not with the planet as whole, for the human civilization is known to be heterogenous, then with part of it. The ITU is not set on putting restrictions on national communication networks. Its Recommendations are wide-ranging, concerning different parameters and interaction standards. And Russia has been taking an active part in it.
- You’ve told us about Your initiative, Your “contribution”, which became ITU Recommendation. But the story You told us is about television. While the Working Group has the word “radio broadcasting” as part of its name. Is it a trick of sorts, or is there something hidden from an outsider?
- That’s true. Radio broadcasting is about the radio. Of course, radio is progressing, and we – Russia, RTRN – are part of the process. I run radio communication department at RTRN, and as deputy director-general I oversee the radio development sector. In February 2015 our delegation put forward an initiative on digital radio. But this time, we did not run into the problem of identification and we did not meet outstanding Americans on the sidelines. Smoothly and quickly the project sailed through “contribution” in the Working Group and then a plenary session. Because, I think, it’s a good project. It was titled “The Study of Methods of Combined Radiation of Signals of Digital Ground Tele and Radio Broadcasting”.
- And could You put it in simpler words?
Then I will start with an analogue. Digital television enriched our vocabulary with the word “multiplex”. Multiplex is a certain number of channels, which are delivered to the user in a package. In Russia, free digital television multiplex comprises 10 channels. Why ten? Why not five or forty? They are all free, anyway.
This is because multiplex is transmitted via the same frequency band as the old analogous channel before it. One frequency channel – one analogue tele channel. Now, thanks to digital technologies, one frequency channel can comprise ten digital tele channels. It can take even more, but the quality will then be worse. Less than ten is not cost efficient. So, ten is the best option. An analogue television transmitter was the size of a one-room, or even a two-room flat. While a multiplex transmitter (of ten channels) is about the size of a fridge.
This became a breakthrough in tele and radio broadcasting, in mobile communication, and on a global scale – in frequency regulation and frequency coordination. Every country has a regulating document titled “a frequency-territory plan” which stipulates which service owns which frequency on each square meter of territory. And all of a sudden, all these plans are worth nothing… Just imagine: ten times economy of frequency resources. This phenomenon immediately became known as “digital dividend” and its redistribution began even earlier than the arrival of digital tele networks, which makes it possible to release this dividend not on paper, but de facto. It was in fact followed by a dramatic upsurge in the development of mobile communication. Many deem it all but the main result of the digitalization of television – not only in Russia, but also in the rest of the world.
My colleagues and I continued work looking into the possibility of broadcasting two multiplexes with the help of one transmitter. One of the multiplexes in question was a television one of the DVB-T2 format, the other was a radio multiplex, which means several radio stations in one frequency channel of the digital radio format DRM+. Yes, such a possibility was found and confirmed. This is known as "the method of combined radiation of the signals of digital ground tele and radio broadcasting”. Quite simple, provided you know what is meant, right?
We thoroughly examined this method, tested it out, in full compliance with technical requirements, recorded everything in a protocol, put all the papers in a nice-looking file, and I left for Geneva.
In Geneva, they heard our report in two working groups, plus in a large number of spontaneously called informal round tables, and it seemed to me that they heard about us through word of mouth well before the meetings, as more and more people and delegations turned up for discussions. At the plenary session the house was crammed to capacity. Our report led to the review of a document that had been issued by the ITU before: «Technology and Planning of Digital Ground Tele and Radio Broadcasting». A review of a founding document is quite rare in the ITU practice. The document was amended, re-issued, its term was extended for another four years. Such a decision meant that our technology, in the opinion of the International Telecommunication Union, had changed the approaches to the planning of digital ground tele and radio broadcasting throughout the planet.
- Did the approaches and technologies transform radically?
- The document received one extra line.
- How come? Only one line?!
- Yes, only one.
- What was it?
- In English it was this - «What methods can be used to combine several multiplex channels within one transmission?»
- And was it worth it?
- Yes, it was, I would say it was. Such is our work. For this very sentence the ITU recalled an entire document, put it in and then published the document again. Thus, the entire future of digital tele and radio broadcasting was somewhat transformed, the real “butterfly effect”.
- Back to Geneva. What do You mean by the “ITU sidelines”? For diplomats, “sidelines” mean a lot. But technical, production-oriented diplomacy is quite different. Different people, different relations, different interaction. How does it all work in telecommunication?
- People are different, true. And the sidelines are … different. Their role is different as well. But it’s equally huge.
Look. I told You that ITU sessions pass decisions by consensus. But where does consensus come from? It won’t appear out of nowhere. When a session is under way, and the participants are discussing ideas and experiments of other participants, anyone, who has any objections as to what we do, can take the floor and present arguments against.
Do You know how consensus is identified at Study Group sessions? Consensus is associated with … silence. The house is silent – the decision is passed.
- A mystical picture….
The same at the group level. Discussion means questions. Questions mean absence of agreement or understanding.
If consensus on a project is not reached, the hearing will be postponed to a later date. It’s necessary that questions stop. But how to guarantee that?..
To cut the number of questions to be asked at a session, it’s necessary to get them all answered them beforehand. That means meeting with people, holding preliminary hearings and negotiations. The way a group votes is the result of preliminary work that initiators of the project have carried out. At private meetings. On the sidelines.
Incidentally, Mark Krivosheyev repeatedly explained to the colleagues that in the ITU they pass all important decisions on standards on the fringes, at preliminary talks. In order to exclude any unexpected objections at final sessions, Krivosheyev, when he served as SG leader, introduced the practice of preliminary signing off of the document under discussion by representatives of chief negotiating parties. That was in 1982. We would sometimes hunt for signatures on the documents late at night, at the hotel. Those were the ‘boudoirs” of telecommunication. But the next day the decisions were passed unanimously. That same year a commission led by Krivosheyev managed to secure an approval for the first common-for-all digital standard. Would You believe it, such a coincidence?
- When You were invited to join the Russian delegation at the ITU, it was led by Mark Krivosheyev. Did this fact influence Your decision? What kind of relationship did You have with the scientist? Do You consider Yourself his student?
Of course, it affected my decision. There was no way I could have shut my eyes on his presence and made myself believe that he was not there. Of course, I knew that NIIR and ITU meant Krivosheyev, so I was more than happy to seize on the chance of joining that circle.
As a member of the delegation, I did not miss a single opportunity to get him as delegation chief to comment on my projects. Yes, I consider Mark Krivosheyev my teacher. Though, I’m doing my best to keep it secret, I don’t want my colleagues to feel upset because they haven’t been as lucky. I’m joking, of course.
It seems to me that deep in their hearts every member of the ITU think of themselves as “Krivosheyev’s student”.
Mark Krivosheyev is still arch-popular within the ITU. He had always been known there as “Professor Krivosheyev”. A person whose popularity stretches far beyond the Union, he is remembered as the only individual who was honoured with a memorable plaque in his lifetime. For the ITU, he is an ingenious, highly revered Russian scholar and the most outstanding personality in the entire history of the ITU.
There cannot be any other way. For the ITU, Mark Krivosheyev was not just a “model Russian”, but a model representative of the ITU proper. He worked for the ITU for 48 years, could You imagine? He devoted to it half of his lifetime and most of his professional experience. Many of our foreign colleagues lived and made their careers “under Krivosheyev”, many grew old and retired, but he stayed on.
Meanwhile, no one from the international professional community forgets that he was Russian. He was always given the floor at a plenary session, but it was not a gesture of courtesy or a ritual. As he spoke, he would invariably propose new strategic research projects. He foresaw a lot of things and many of his ideas are waiting for their time. The most important thing is that they are remembered.
- Research and discoveries made by Mark Krivosheyev and his colleagues propelled the entire domestic communication industry to global leadership. He was number one in the area of television technologies in the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century. From the very outset Krivosheyev’s work in the ITU can be described as an act of scientific and diplomatic heroism and yielded tremendous authority and glory to the Russian science on the international scene.
As a prominent figure and academic, who made a remarkable contribution to the wellbeing of people across the globe by means of innovations in IT technologies, he was awarded the ITU150 of the International Telecommunication Union. Besides Krivosheyev, there are only five people in the world who were honored with such an award – wireless mobile connection pioneer Martin Cooper, Internet developer Robert. E Kahn, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
In Your opinion, can the scientist’s personality grandeur and the scope of his achievements hamper the work and reputation of Russia’s present-day representatives in the ITU? Can Krivosheyev’s globally renowned high status overshadow in the eyes of foreign colleagues the potential of the new generation of Russian telecoms workers?
- You know, on the one hand, a typical representative of the ITU tends to relate anyone from Russia to the image of Krivosheyev. This is not because foreign experts see nothing else of significance in the Russian telecommunication. This is because Krivosheyev’s personality means a lot to them personally, to each of them in person. I’ve just tried to explain where such attitudes stem from.
So, to my mind, a touch of Krivosheyev genius on the open and energetic faces of representatives of the Russian Communication Administration is not fraught with risks. It’s great that the history of communication knows Mark Krivosheyev, it’s great that we are his compatriots, it’s great that he was from Russia.
At the same time, we must put some things right. Mark was definitely not alone in his status of a genius. He was part of a host of prominent Soviet and Russian scientists, who grew to prominent during his time at NIIR. Among his associates and like-minded co-workers were internationally acknowledged experts Andrei Kucheriaviy, Lev Kantor, Natalya Reznikova, Anatoly Kalinin, Vladimir Minkin, Vladimir Timofeyev (who occupied the post of Director of ITU Radio Communication Bureau from 2003 to 2010), Vladimir Kozlov, Alexander Pavlyuk, Sergei Pastukh, Viktor Strelets and many other luminaries.
And this is what the ITU is fully aware of too.
At present, employees of Russian NIIR are members of the governing bodies of eight Study Groups of the International Telecommunication Union.
ITU Secretary-General Zhao Houlin spoke highly of Mark Iosifovish’s colleagues as he congratulated NIIR on the 70th anniversary in 2019.
Russia boasts the most number of approved proposals in the working organs of the ITU Radio Communication Sector.
Russia is also among the top ten countries invest the most in the work of the Radio Communication Sector. Whether this should be seen as an achievement, or as excessive kindness, I don’t know. But it would be great if delegations of ITU countries remembered about it now, when preparations for the election of a new secretary-general of the ITU are in full swing.
Our compatriots should also remember and feel proud of the fact that 170 years ago Russia was among twenty countries that initiated the creation of the ITU. Russia has always been in the “top league” and in the vanguard of communication.
- I regret to disappoint You but the ITU is not the oldest international organization on the planet. Data say the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) originated in 1862, earlier than the ITU. But, like the ITU, it was founded with the participation of Russia.
- Yes, it looks like in those years too there were people with clear vision, not only in communication. They must have understood that no matter how huge the planet is, they should be prepared to set a boundary with a neighbor at any time. It’s really important. I wish them luck.
- I chose to change the topic because our talk was becoming too serious. Could You recall any funny episodes in the work on the standardization and coordination of communication? Situations which You would consider funny?
I’ll tell You one story. I don’t know if You will find it funny. As You know, radio frequencies are a limited natural resource. A short-wave band (SB) makes a specific part of the radio frequency spectrum: a short-wave signal can go round the entire planet.
The short wave’s superpower was discovered by radio amateurs in the 1920s and this discovery provided such a powerful impetus for radio lovers that they are still as active as ever, despite mobile communication, the Internet. The international community, or movement, of radio lovers is what it’s all about. But nowadays it would be wrong to call it amateur: it was known as amateur in the days when there was no other type of radio connection. In general, one must possess specific skills to take part in such a movement. So, most radio lovers are highly qualified professionals, or, as they say now, “experts” with vast knowledge. At present, the so-called “radio amateurs” have got the once scandalous and so much sought-after short-wave band at their disposal. This community has their own language of code words which are used during communication sessions, for example, OM is “buddy”, VFB is “very well”, XYL – “wife”. And to say good-bye they broadcast to one another «73», which means “best wishes”. I am a radio lover too, with nearly half-a-century-long experience… But the short wave story is not about this.
For years, short-wave band remained the most wanted part of the radio spectrum. But nobody managed to devise a frequency assignment method, so frequencies are shared and there are no national frequency plans.
Nevertheless, the world did have to come to spontaneous global coordination due to the disproportionately high level of mutual interferences between sources of signals from the stations. Historically, every nation was assigned short-wave radio frequencies at High Frequency Coordination Conferences, or HFCC.
Sometimes there were “collisions”. When the participants could not come to agreement, they started a sort of arm-wrestling “under the table”. Used as the trump card was a superpower transmitter. Soviet specialists switched the transmitter into the disputable frequency and a couple of months later, maximum in half a year, the weakened and deafened opponent left the frequency. In radio men’s jargon it was known as “to blow through the frequency”.
After the end of the Cold War between the USSR and the USA dialogue in radio communication improved, so Russia is no longer using a short-wave band for radio broadcasting and has long stopped resorting to such problem-solving techniques.
HFCC is currently a non-governmental non-profit association, which entered the ITU as a collective member.
This means a challenge for the new secretary-general of the ITU: to resolve the problem of nearly one hundred years by devising a method of assigning frequencies in a short-wave band.
- It would be interesting to know what You can say about the current state of the ITU and the communication industry as a whole.
We are going through a fairly memorable time……I wouldn’t describe it as enjoyable, though. ITU’s working groups are being filled with producers of different kinds of telecommunication equipment, most of whom represent high-profile trans-national corporations. In addition to 193 countries, ITU comprises more than 900 collective members: international and regional organizations, mobile operators, producers of telecommunication equipment, broadcasters (fore example, American CBS, Japanese NHK, British BBC), academic organizations, scientific and educational institutions (for example, the Bonch-Bruevich Saint Petersburg State University of Telecommunications).
Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, we are witnessing a growing interest in from telecommunications and IT-giants, such as Samsung, Sony, Philips, and many others in issues which could yield a financial outcome, such as images with High Dynamic Range и superhigh resolution TV.
The producers have been keeping a close eye on standardization processes and tendencies. Their interest is evident, no need to explain. The ITU, in turn, is trying to maintain neutrality as a platform for reaching global consensus. But it’s different with the corporations – once their interest is up, their influence should go up as well. They are not content with the episodic role of one of a thousand ITU members, they are looking for ways to operate through national delegations, and of course, they are able to find these ways, if we are to remember that the delegations are not spoiled by money.
Ever more often, ITU discussions reveal the following situation: when a corporation which has invested in developing a particular technology for the improvement of television or other equipment is trying to guarantee a green light for the technology in question.
In fact, Mark Krivosheyev said that it had always been a challenge to coordinate the positions of all parties involved.
A lose-lose situation occurred in the late 1990s during talks to approve a standard for High-Definition TV (HDTV). The proposals were all conflicting ones, the participants could not pick a favorite, at stake were the interests of the producers of the equipment and the broadcasters, who had invested millions of dollars in different HDTV projects.
The Americans based their arguments on the development of quality characteristics of Hollywood video products. They had even brought with them the director George Lukas, who impressed the telecoms workers by a story about plans to shoot a sequel to The Star Wars.
But our dear Mark Krivosheyev cited data that it was Indian Bollywood, not American Hollywood, that had gained top positions in the film production industry by then. Bollywood had been rolling out more films than the United States and Europe together because it produced low-budget movies in large quantities. Professor Krivosheyev urged everybody to strike a compromise and take into account the interests of tele companies and film producers in different parts of the world. And the Americans did agree! As a result, the parties concerned reached a compromise on the technical parameters of the HDTV standard.
- Now, it’s become somewhat difficult to reach an agreement with the USA on a variety of issues…
Yes, I think that in the near future the ITU platform could turn into a scene of very serious battles.
- Thank You for a productive interview.
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