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International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an agency of the United Nations (UN) whose purpose is to coordinate telecommunication operations and services throughout the world. Originally founded in 1865, as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU is the oldest existing international organization. ITU headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ITU consists of three sectors:

  • Radiocommunication (ITU-R) -- ensures optimal, fair and rational use of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum
  • Telecommunication Standardization ( ITU-T ) -- formulates recommendations for standardizing telecommunication operations worldwide
  • Telecommunication Development (ITU-D) -- assists countries in developing and maintaining internal communication operations

The ITU sets and publishes regulations and standards relevant to electronic communication and broadcasting technologies of all kinds including radio, television, satellite , telephone and the Internet . The organization conducts working parties, study groups and meetings to address current and future issues and to resolve disputes. The ITU organizes and holds an exhibition and forum known as the Global TELECOM every four years.

Another important aspect of the ITU's mandate is helping emerging countries to establish and develop telecommunication systems of their own. Although the recommendations of the ITU are non-binding, most countries adhere to them in the interest of maintaining an effective international electronic communication environment.

This was last updated in June 2010

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