Standards Build Trust: How ITU Supports Inclusive Sustainable Development.

Author:Lee, Chaesub

Standards connect us with reliable modes of communication, codes of practice and frameworks for cooperation. Diverse communities, rich in unique skills and means of production, find mutual benefit in trade and the larger marketplace it creates, but this can only be achieved through the application of common standards. International standards speak to the diversity of our interconnected world, introducing uniformity at the interfaces where we need to be certain that we are all on the same terms.

Standards build trust. They are at play in almost every product we consume and every process that readies them for consumption. Products or services conforming to international standards are imbued with trusted symbols of quality, safety or compatibility. Information and communication technologies (ICTs)--such as mobile phones, tablets and personal computers--possess a wide variety of features, but all connect and function using the common language provided by international standards. The ICT industry relies on technical standardization to an extent rivaled by few other industry sectors. Technical standardization establishes engineering norms for complex systems and is crucial in capturing and stimulating innovation, providing the lifeblood of ICT networks. Such networks require common standards to enable interconnection and interoperability.

Standards bodies such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are a primary means of enabling the collaboration and cooperation required to establish international standards. ITU rules and procedures promote openness and transparency, providing an environment where innovators from competing companies can come together to develop international standards that meet their need for common platforms for ICT growth and innovation.

Standardization is of great service to the public interest. International standards create efficiencies enjoyed by all market players. They lower the costs of starting a company or developing a product, and they enable new firms to enter a market, increasing competition and innovation. Interoperability improves as more standards-based products enter a market, which in turn encourages the adoption of standards by more market players. This ultimately results in lower costs for producers and lower prices for consumers.


Standardization has been at the core of the ITU mandate since the organization's inception in 1865. Estimates suggest...

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