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ITU to Distribute Standards Free of Charge

December 21, 2006

Many people in the telecommunication industry have pressed for the ITU to make its standards documents available free of charge. Well, the long wait is over. Starting January 2, 2007 the ITU will make its standards documents available to the public free of charge.

The same kind of change in policy took place at ETSI several years ago. Reportedly, making its standards available for free did not have a negative impact on ETSI's bottom line. Rather, the free standards helped to drive participation in the standards-making body, thus compensating for any loss in revenue.

This move came after a very long trial wherein the ITU allowed a person to register an e-mail address and download three documents free. This trial demonstrated conclusively that there was a strong desire to receive standards at no cost.

Since the ITU publishes some documents jointly with ISO, special consideration will be given to those "common" texts, since ISO still charges for its standards and is apparently heavily dependent on the revenue from the sales of its standards. For such "common" texts for which ISO charges a fee, the ITU will not release documents free of charge until they are at least one year old.

Documents will be made available in PDF format, downloadable directly from the ITU web site.