ITU Drives Development of Multimedia Systems

Article excerpt

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has initiated approval of a number of new recommendations that will have the effect of speeding the delivery of multimedia and interactive applications to desktops all around the world, according to a recent announcement from the organization. The new recommendations, which cover the areas of videoconferencing, Internet telephony, text conversation, and the use of ATM in multimedia systems, were accepted at a meeting of ITU-T Study Group 16 Working Parties, held in Sunriver, Oregon, in September.

The meeting, hosted by the Intel Corporation, attracted more than 200 technical experts from around the world. The attendees agreed on two new recommendations concerning text conversation. The first recommendation, called T.140, defines a universal presentation-level protocol for text conversation that will work with all multimedia protocols and with the existing standard for text telephony, V. 1 8. The second, known as T. 134, is a companion to T. 140 and defines a simple data protocol for text conversation in a data conferencing environment. Support for the T. 140 recommendation has also been added to the H.324 recommendation, which defines multimedia communication over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). These two recommendations are expected to greatly improve the lives of those reliant on textbased conversation systems, such as the hearing and speech impaired.

The reporter for the work on these new standards, Gunnar Hellstrom of Sweden, said: "The results we have achieved are very important. By providing standardized video, text, and voice conversation services, users will be able to choose whichever combination supports their system capabilities. Our work represents a great step forward for users who suffer from hearing- or speech-related problems. These people, who in the past have suffered from a fragmented market of incompatible text telephony systems, will benefit greatly from having global standards on which future systems can be based. And, given the huge and growing popularity of Internet-based 'chat' systems, it's clear that many other users will also benefit from our work on these new recommendations."

The Study Group 16 Working Party meeting also made considerable progress on the new recommendation for PCM modems (also known as 56-K modems). Because these new modems are designed for connections that are digital at one end and have only one analog-to-digital conversion, they are expected to be widely used for new applications such as Internet and online service access. The commencement of the formal approval process for this recommendation is now rescheduled for the next meeting of Study Group 16, in January/February 1998, with final approval expected the following September.

In addition, the meeting forwarded for approval extensions of ITU-T recommendation H.324 (videoconferencing over standard telephones), which will allow it to support mobile terminal applications. H.324 covers terminals using the PSTN to carry real-time voice, data, and video, or any combination of these, and forms the basis of videotelephony. …