The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) jointly organized a workshop in Bangkok, Thailand to plan for the implementation and development of Next Generation Networks (NGN) in the region. Over 180 experts from 24 countries representing APT and ITU members, international organizations and the private sector took part in the forum. The workshop served as a platform for discussion and exchange of views on practical guidelines on NGN planning, exploration of ways to deploy cost-effective NGN technologies and to find solutions for NGN implementation in rural and remote areas.

NGN is the network infrastructure that will enable advanced new services offered by mobile and fixed network operators in the future, while continuing to support all existing services. This next generation architecture will help leverage new technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of market entry, increase flexibility and accommodate seamlessly in a single multi-service network both voice and data.

Key recommendations made by the workshop include:

• Regulators and policy makers to provide clear and consistent enabling environments for NGN and be involved in the NGN planning, implementation and educational process

• Develop standardized planning tools to assist developing countries to migrate from traditional telecommunication networks to NGN

• Regulators to ensure that service providers meet agreed quality of service standards equivalent to traditional circuit switched voice networks

• NGN requirements to include security levels that meet the needs of end users and provide confidence in the use of applications and services in NGN-compliant networks

• Establish NGN standards to make emergency and location-based services available seamlessly and reliably across the entire network

• Raise greater awareness on the various issues related to NGN planning

Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, commented, "NGN has the potential to accelerate the deployment of telecommunication networks and services in developing countries. As cost and revenue are the drivers of this development, the capital cost of deploying NGN technology, both in the core of the network, and the operating costs are significantly lower than circuit switched technologies. This will enable rapid expansion of network capabilities."

Executive director of APT, Amarendra Narayan, added, "We need to urgently address the needs of the Asia Pacific region for cost-effective options of broadband access while finalizing the international standardization framework for NGN. This is particularly important for developing countries and rural and remote areas. APT and ITU can play a key role in ascertaining Asia Pacific regional needs."