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International Telecommunication Union (ITU)


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a United Nations (UN) affiliated Member State organization with global treaty level recognition for information and communication technologies, with an emphasis on international cooperation between governments and the private sector.

How Does ARIN Participate?

  • Sector Membership in ITU-Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (ITU-T)
  • Sector Membership in ITU-Telecommunication Development Bureau (ITU-D)

Who Can Join And How?

ITU membership is open, and organizations can apply to obtain their own membership as a Sector member, an Associate or in Academia.  The ITU does not have a membership category for individuals.  ITU membership includes the ability to directly participate in an advisory role and access to restricted ITU documentation.

The application for membership is separate for each of the ITU Sectors (Radio, Standardization, Development). Once the application is completed, it must be submitted to the government where the organization is located for vetting and approval. The Member State government will approve the membership application and forward it to the ITU for processing. The ITU will then notify the applicant that their request has been approved and provide the information necessary to complete the process, such as membership fee instructions.

Information on the ITU application process is located here:

Use the Member States table to find the appropriate government contact to whom to send your application.

Access to Materials

ITU documents are divided into two categories: ITU Recommendations and other ITU materials. Once adopted, ITU Recommendations are publicly available and may be downloaded from the ITU website provided above.

All other ITU materials and documents are restricted to circulation among ITU members, and cannot be shared outside of the membership group. Circulating member-only restricted materials to nonmembers could result in the loss of access to these restricted materials.

ARIN’s Role at the ITU

As a UN-affiliated Member State organization with global treaty level recognition, the ITU has the ability to not only develop technical recommendations, but also to define process and policy in areas that may affect the ARIN region and the Internet community should the recommendations be adopted.

Participation in ITU allows ARIN to:

  • Educate about the open, transparent, community-based policy framework for Internet number resource management, currently administered by the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) system, so that it is globally recognized and understood
  • Provide technical advice and assistance to the ITU membership in order to advance understanding of the RIR's Internet number resource distribution and management system
  • Take part in the development of recommendations to preserve an open, stable, and growing Internet

ITU Background

The ITU was founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union. Following its name change in 1934 to the International Telecommunication Union, the organization became a specialized agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies – ICTs in 1947.
Over the years, the focus of the ITU has grown from the telegraph to include digital broadcasting, mobile phones and satellites, and standards for connecting to the Internet


The ITU is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and has 12 regional and area offices around the world.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Place des Nations 1211 Geneva 20


The ITU’s mission is to promote and extend the benefits of telecommunications throughout the world by:

  • Allocating radio frequency spectrum and satellite slot assignments
  • Developing global telecommunications standards
  • Implementing programs in developing countries
  • Facilitating international cooperation and global interoperability of telecommunications networks


ITU membership represents a cross-section of the global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector .

Founded on the principle of international cooperation between governments (Member States) and the private sector (Sector Members, Associates and Academia), the ITU is a global forum through which parties can work towards consensus on a wide range of issues affecting the future direction of the industry.

The ITU is a membership-driven organization that currently has a membership of 192 countries along with private sector members and academic representatives.

Only Member States are able to vote on ITU business (e.g. Constitution, Convention, Recommendations, and leadership). Each country is recognized as having one vote, and any one country can vote against a measure to prevent its adoption. ITU Sector Members, Associates, and Academia participate as individual advisors with the ability to express opinions and educate Member States on key issues that are being discussed and will be voted upon.

Structure and Organization

The ITU structure and working principles are developed and agreed upon by Member States at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, which is held every four years. This information is contained in a treaty-level document referred to as the Constitution and Convention. The Plenipotentiary Conference is also responsible for ITU leadership elections and agreements, called Resolutions, which instruct the various arms of the organization in their duties over the next four years. In between Plenipotentiary Conferences, the ITU Council has the authority to act on its behalf to oversee the business of the ITU.

The ITU has three main areas of activity, organized in ‘Sectors’, which work through assemblies, conferences, and various meetings.

1. ITU-Radiocommunication (ITU-R)

The ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) coordinates the vast and growing range of radiocommunication services, as well as the international management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. Participation in the ITU-R Sector is done through the following:

  • World Radio Conference (WRC) – Radio Regulations and treaties
  • Radio Advisory Group (RAG)
  • Study Groups (SG)
2. ITU-Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T)

The ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) produces standards (called Recommendations) that are considered by the ITU as fundamental to the operation of today’s ICT networks. Participation in the ITU-T Sector is done through the following:

  • World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA)
  • Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG)
  • Study Groups
3. ITU-Telecommunication Development (ITU-D)

The ITU's Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) focuses on capacity building  to increase access to infrastructure and information and communication services throughout the world. This includes implementation of projects under the United Nations development system and other funding arrangements. Participation in the ITU-D Sector is done through the following:

  • World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC)
  • Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG)
  • Study Groups

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