Network Working Group
Request for Comments: 2436
Category: Informational
R. Brett
Nortel Networks
S. Bradner
Harvard University
G. Parsons
Nortel Networks
October 1998

Collaboration between ISOC/IETF and ITU-T

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.


This document describes the collaboration process between the ITU-T and ISOC/IETF. The process was documented by ITU-T at its TSAG (Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group) meeting in September 1998. All participants of this meeting (including Study Group chairmen and the ISOC Vice President for Standards) assisted in the creation of this document. Subsequently, it was sent to all ITU-T Study Groups and ISOC/IETF to ensure that everyone was aware of the process. Feedback is requested by the next meeting of TSAG in April 1999. This document is identical to the document produced by TSAG.

Please send any comments on this document to ISOC at and for information to the ITU-T TSAG group at

ISOC/IETF and ITU-T Collaboration

1 Scope

This Liaison is sent to all ITU-T Study Groups to encourage and aid in the understanding of collaboration on standards development between the ITU-T and the Internet Society (ISOC) / Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Feedback to TSAG is encouraged before its next meeting in April 1999.

2 Introduction

The telecommunication industry is faced with an explosion in growth of the Internet and other IP (Internet Protocol) based networks. Operators, manufacturers and software/application providers alike are reconsidering their business directions and Standards Development Organizations and Forums and Consortia are facing an immense challenge to address this situation. These challenges were considered by TSAG at its meeting in Geneva, 7-11 September 1998, where it recognized that although the ITU-T and ISOC/IETF are already collaborating in a number of areas, this collaboration must be strengthened within the context of changes in work emphasis and direction within the ITU-T on studies related to IP based networks.

For example, many Study Groups (e.g., 7, 8 & 16) already address several the aspects of IP based networks. Further, new IP related work activities are starting in other Study Groups (e.g., 4, 11 & 13). There are many potential areas of interest to ITU-T Study Groups in the IP area that should be investigated (e.g., signaling, routing, security, numbering & addressing, integrated management, performance, IP - telecom interworking, access). Since many of these areas are also being investigated by the IETF, there is a requirement for close collaboration.

Recommendations A.4, A.5 and A.6 already document the process for working with other organizations and their documents. Since there are no specific guidelines on the process of collaboration with the IETF, this liaison is meant to provide that information. The current level of cooperation between the ITU-T and the IETF should be built upon to ensure that the competence and experience of each organization is brought to bear in the most effective manner and in collaboration with the other.

3 Guidance on Collaboration

TSAG has been made aware of several instances of existing successful collaboration between the ITU-T and ISOC/IETF. This section builds on this existing process and details some of the more important guidance points that Study Groups should be aware of in their collaboration with ISOC/IETF.

3.1 How to interact on ITU-T or IETF work items.

Study Groups that have identified work topics that are Internet related should evaluate the relationship with topics defined in the IETF. Current IETF Working Groups and their charters (IETF definition of the scope of work) are listed in the IETF archives (see section 3.5). A Study Group may decide that development of a Recommendation on a particular topic may benefit from collaboration with the IETF.

The Study Group should identify this collaboration in its work plan (specifically in that of each Question involved), describing the goal of the collaboration and its expected outcome. It is anticipated that an IETF Working Group would also evaluate and identify areas of relationship with the ITU-T and document the collaboration with the ITU-T Study Group in its charter.

The following sections outline a process that can be used to enable each group to learn about the others new work items.

3.1.1 How the ITU-T learns about existing IETF work items

The responsibility is on individual Study Groups to review the current IETF Working Groups to determine if there are any topics of mutual interest. Should a Study Group believe that there is an opportunity for collaboration on a topic of mutual interest it should contact both the IETF Working Group Chair and the Area Director responsible.

3.1.2 How the ITU-T learns about proposed new IETF work items

The IETF maintains a mailing list for the distribution and discussion of proposed new Working Group charters amongst the management team. To add or change a subscription to this list, send a message to indicating who you are and that you would like to subscribe to the New Work mailing list. Details on the list process will be emailed to each subscriber.

It is recommended that each Study Group chairman (or a delegate) subscribe to this list and monitor the new work items for possible overlap or interest to their Study Group. It is expected that this mailing list will see one or two messages per month. Chairmen should identify their comments on these charters by responding to the IESG mailing list at clearly indicating their ITU-T position and the nature of their concern. It should be noted that the IETF turnaround time for new Working Group charters is one week. As a result, the mailing list should be consistently monitored.

3.1.3 How the IETF learns about ITU-T work items

An initial list of Internet related topics in ITU-T Study Groups based on the situation as of 11 September is being provided to the Vice President of Standards for ISOC for distribution to the appropriate IETF interested individuals and will be copied to all

ITU-T Study Group Chairmen. The intention is for Study Groups to forward updates to the Vice President of Standards for ISOC as they occur.

It is expected that any IETF Working Group interest with the topics being covered by the ITU-T will be forwarded to individual Study Group Chairmen (or the lead Study Group Chairman) by the Vice President of Standards for ISOC.

3.2 Representation

   ISOC, including its standards body IETF, have been admitted by the
   ITU Council to participate in the work of the ITU-T.   As a result,
   ISOC delegates are therefore afforded equivalent rights to those of
   other ITU-T Study Group participants (see 3.2.1).  Conversely, ITU-T
   delegates may participate in the work of the IETF as individuals or
   be recognized as ITU-T delegates (see 3.2.2).  To promote
   collaboration it is useful to facilitate communication between the
   organizations as further described below.

3.2.1 IETF Recognition at ITU-T

Participants from the IETF may participate in ITU-T meetings as ISOC delegates if the appropriate IETF Working Group (or area) has approved their attendance. This approval will be communicated to the TSB in the form of a registration for a particular ITU-T meeting by the Vice President of Standards for ISOC.

3.2.2 ITU-T Recognition at ISOC/IETF

ITU-T Study Group Chairmen can authorize one or more members to attend an IETF meeting as an official ITU-T delegate speaking on behalf of the Study Group (or a particular Rapporteur Group). The Study Group Chairman communicates the ITU-T list of delegates by email to the Vice President of Standards for ISOC and also to the Study Group. The email address of the Vice President of Standards for ISOC is

3.2.3 Communication contacts

To foster ongoing communication between the ITU-T and ISOC/IETF, it is important to identify and establish contact points within ITU-T Study Groups for specific IETF topics of mutual interest. It is beneficial to identify these contact points early and in some cases the contact point identified by each organization may be the same individual. It is responsibility of a Study Group to establish the contact points with the IETF and maintain the list on its web page.

An example of communication contacts that is suggested to Study Groups has both a high level and a working level:

  1. ITU-T Study Group Chairman and IETF Area Director

An IETF Area Director is the individual responsible for overseeing a major focus of activity with a scope similar to that of an ITU-T Study Group Chairman. These positions are both relatively long- term (of several years) and offer the stability of contact points between the two organizations for a given topic.

  1. ITU-T Rapporteur and IETF Working Group Chair

An IETF Working Group Chair is an individual who is assigned to lead the work on a specific task within one particular area with a scope similar to that of an ITU-T Rapporteur. These positions are working positions (of a year or more) that typically end when the work on a specific topic ends. Collaboration here is very beneficial to ensure the actual work gets done. Note that the current IETF Area Directors and Working Group chairs can be found in the IETF Working Group charters. The current ITU-T Study Group chairmen and Rapporteurs are listed on the ITU-T web page.

Both the ITU-T and IETF may assign their contact point function(s) to other individuals than those suggested as it deems appropriate.

3.2.4 Communication

Informal communication between contact points and experts of both organizations is encouraged. However, note that formal communication from an ITU-T Study Group, Working Party or Rapporteur to an associated IETF contact point must be explicitly approved and identified as coming from the Study Group, Working Party or Rapporteur Group, respectively. Conversely, formal communication from an IETF Working Group or Area Director must also be explicitly approved and identified before forwarding to any ITU-T contact. Formal communication is intended to allow the sharing of positions between the IETF and the ITU-T outside of actual documents (as described in 3.3). This would cover such things as comments on documents and requests for input. The approved communication is simply emailed from one body contact to another (the appropriate mailing lists, as described in 3.2.5 may be copied).

3.2.5 Mailing Lists

All IETF Working Groups and all ITU-T Study Group Questions have associated mailing lists.

In the IETF, the mailing list is the primary vehicle for discussion and decision making. It is recommended the ITU-T experts interested in particular IETF working group topics subscribe to and participate in these lists. The IETF Working Group mailing list subscription and archive information are noted in each Working Group's charter. In the ITU-T, the TSB has set up formal mailing lists for Questions, Working Parties and other topics within Study Groups (more detail can be found on the ITU website.). These mailing lists are typically used for discussion of ITU-T contributions. Note that individual subscribers to this list must be affiliated with an ITU-T member (at this time, there is no blanket inclusion of all IETF participants as members, however, as a member ISOC may designate representatives to subscribe). Alternatively, ITU-T members operate personal mailing lists on various topics with no restrictions on membership (e.g., IETF participants are welcome).

3.3 Document Sharing

During the course of ITU-T and IETF collaboration it is important to share working drafts and documents among the technical working groups. Initial proposed concepts and specifications typically can be circulated by email (often just repeating the concept and not including the details of the specification) on both the IETF and ITU-T mailing lists. In addition, working texts (or URLs) of draft Recommendations or RFCs (Internet Drafts) may also be sent between the organizations as described below.

3.3.1 IETF to ITU-T

   IETF documents (e.g., Internet Drafts) can be submitted to a Study
   Group as a Contribution from ISOC.  In order to ensure that the IETF
   has properly authorized this,  the IETF Working Group must agree that
   the specific drafts are of mutual interest and that there is a
   benefit in forwarding them to the ITU-T for review, comment and
   potential use.  Once agreed, the Vice President Standards for ISOC
   would review the Working Group request and give approval.  The
   contributions would then be forwarded (with the noted approval) to
   the TSB for circulation as a Study Group Contribution.

3.3.2 ITU-T to IETF

A Study Group may send texts of draft new Recommendations to the IETF as contributions in the form of Internet Drafts. Internet Drafts are IETF temporary documents that expire six months after being published. The Study Group must decide that there is a benefit in forwarding them to the IETF for review, comment and potential use. Terms of reference for Rapporteur Group meetings may authorize Rapporteur Groups to send working documents, in the form of Internet

Drafts, to the IETF. In both cases, the document editor would be instructed to prepare the contribution in Internet Draft format (in ASCII and optionally postscript format as per RFC 2223) and submit it to the Internet Draft editor (email: Alternatively, the Study Group or Rapporteur Group could agree to post the document on a web site and merely document its existence with a short Internet Draft that contains a summary and the document URL.

Both the Rapporteur and the Document Editor should be identified as contacts in the contribution. The contribution must also clearly indicate that the Internet Draft is a working document of a particular ITU-T Study Group.

3.3.3 ITU-T & IETF

It is envisaged that the processes of 3.3.1 & 3.3.2 will often be used simultaneously by both an IETF Working Group and an ITU-T Study Group to collaborate on a topic of mutual interest. It is also envisaged that the outcome of the collaboration will be the documentation in full by one body and its referencing by the other (see section 3.4 for details). That is, common or joint text is discouraged because of the current differences in approval, revision and stability of approved documents for publication by each body.

3.4 Simple cross referencing

ITU-T Recommendation A.5, specifically its Annex A and the application guidelines attached, describes the process for referencing IETF RFCs in ITU-T Recommendations. IETF RFC 2026, specifically section 7.1.1, describes the process for referencing other open standards (like ITU-T Recommendations) in IETF RFCs.

3.5 Additional items

Several URLs to IETF procedures are provided here for information:

   RFC2223  - Instructions to RFC Authors, October 1997
   RFC2026  - The Internet Standards Process Revision 3, October 1996
   RFC2418 - IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures, September
   Current list and status of all IETF RFCs
   Current list and description of all IETF Internet Drafts:
   Current list of IETF Working Groups and their Charters: (includes
      Area Directors and Chair contacts, Mailing list information, etc.)
   Current ITU-T information can be found on the ITU website: (includes
      contacts, organization, Recommendations for purchase, mailing list
      info, etc.)

4. Acknowledgments

The process was documented by ITU-T at its TSAG (Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group) meeting in September 1998. All participants of this meeting (including Study Group chairmen and the ISOC Vice President for Standards) assisted in the creation of this document. Subsequently, it was sent to all ITU-T Study Groups and ISOC/IETF to ensure that everyone was aware of the process. Feedback is requested by the next meeting of TSAG in April 1999.

5. Security Considerations

This type of non-protocol document does not directly effect the security of the Internet.

6. Authors' Addresses

   ITU-T Contact:
   R. F. Brett
   Nortel Networks
   P.O. Box 3511, Station C
   Ottawa, ON  K1Y 4H7
   Phone: +1-613-828-0902
   Fax:   +1-613-828-9408
   ISOC Contact:
   Scott O. Bradner
   Harvard University
   Holyoke Center, Room 876
   1350 Mass. Ave.
   Cambridge, MA  02138
   Phone: +1 617 495 3864
   Glenn W. Parsons
   Nortel Networks
   P.O. Box 3511, Station C
   Ottawa, ON  K1Y 4H7
   Phone: +1-613-763-7582
   Fax:   +1-613-763-4461

7. References

   [A.4]     ITU-T Recommendation A.4 - Communication process between
             ITU-T and forums and consortia, October 1996.
   [A.5]     ITU-T Recommendation A.5 - Generic procedures for including
             references to documents to other organizations in ITU-T
             Recommendations, January 1998.
   [A.6]     ITU-T Recommendation A.6 - Cooperation and exchange of
             information between ITU-T and national and regional
             standards development organizations, September 1998.
   [RFC2026] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process - Revision 3",
             BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.
   [RFC2223] Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC Authors",
             RFC 2223, October 1997.
   [RFC2418] Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
             Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, September 1998.

8. Full ITU Copyright Statement

Copyright © ITU (1998). All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and microfilm, without permission in writing from the ITU.

9. Annex A


PART I - Developed by TSAG at its January 1998 Meeting

The following guidelines should be used in conjunction with the relevant provisions of Recommendations A.3, A.4, A.5 and A.23.

  1. Ownership/Change Control - When considering using material from other organizations it is preferable to only include references to other standards, rather than incorporate text from a standard in the body of a Recommendation. Exceptionally, full text incorporation is necessary rather than a reference where Recommendations having regulatory connotations are concerned.
      - Reference should be made to the particular issue of a standard.
         In this way the ITU-T is in control of what is actually
         referenced even if the source organization updates the
      - References to standards from other organizations should only be
         made where those organizations continue to provide public
         access to the version referenced even when updated versions are
      - When a draft Recommendation is being prepared and the intention
         is to reference a standard from another organization, that
         organization should be advised by the TSB of the ITU-T's
         intention and should be requested to notify the ITU-T of any
         impending changes to the standard and of any reissues of the
         standard. (This request may be part of the correspondence
         described in Recommendation A.5, section 2.4.) It is however
         the responsibility of the Study Group to regularly review its
         Recommendations and check if the references are correct and if
         necessary to reissue the Recommendation with revised references
         (and where necessary make changes in the body of the
         Recommendation where the reference is made.).
      - Should an organization intend to remove completely an earlier
         version of a standard the ITU-T should be advised so that it
         can either incorporate the text in the Recommendation or change
         the reference to a later version.
  1. Access - The objective is to have referenced standards freely available via the Web so that people purchasing a Recommendation may get access to the references. A warning should be given to purchasers of ITU-T Recommendations that they may have to
         additionally purchase the referenced standards. This could be
         done by including a note to such effect in the introduction to
         Recommendations where references are included.
      - When developing a Recommendation where consideration is being
         given to using references to other standards the Study Group
         should investigate with the TSB whether the referenced text
         will be available free of charge or if a payment will be
         required. This should be taken into account by the Study Group
         as it may influence the decision to use the reference.
  1. IPR - In principle, if the IPR policy of the organization owning a referenced standard is more stringent than that of the ITU-T then there should not be any IPR problems with including the reference. However, this may not be the case with all organizations. Further guidelines are being prepared by the Director of the TSB.
  1. Approval - The approval procedures in Resolution 1 have to be followed for Recommendations containing references (wholly or in part) to standards from other bodies even in the case where the Recommendation is just a reference to another standard.

PART II - Developed by TSAG at its September 1998 Meeting

The following guidelines should be used in conjunction with Recommendation A.5.

  1. Nested References Issue: RFCs often contain references to related RFCs and ITU-T Recommendations which, in turn, may contain references to other RFCs and Recommendations. It is unclear how to handle these nested references in the context of A.5.

Guideline: Each time an RFC is referenced within an ITU-T Recommendation, all references within that RFC should be listed in the report documenting the decision of the Study Group. No further treatment is necessary, although the Study Group may wish to investigate those references further on a case-by-case basis. The same guidelines apply when referencing the documents of other organizations.

  1. Subsequent Referencing of the Same Document Issue: It is possible that the same RFC may be considered for referencing in multiple Recommendations. It is unclear what evaluation is required in subsequent references.

Guideline: The justification for referencing the same document in different Recommendations is likely to be different. Consequently, it is important that separate evaluations be made each time the document is referenced. However, only items 1 - 8 in Appendix I (and Annex A) of Recommendation A.5 need to be completed if the referenced organization has already been qualified per Section 3 of A.5. Since items 9 and 10 are dependent on the organization and not on the document, they need to be completed only the first time a document from that organization is being considered for referencing and only if such information has not been documented already.

  1. Availability of Referenced Document Issue: Paragraph 2.2.10 of A.5 requires that the contributing Study Group member provide a full copy of the existing document. It is unclear whether paper copies are mandatory or whether electronic availability, for example, on a Web site, is sufficient.

Guideline: The objective is to have referenced documents available via the Web at no cost so that the Study Group members may proceed with their evaluation. Accordingly, if a referenced document is available in this manner, it is sufficient for the contributing member to provide its exact location on the Web. On the other hand, if the document is not available in this manner, a full copy must be provided (in electronic format if permissible by the referenced organization, otherwise in paper format).

  1. Referencing of IETF Documents Issue: It is unclear whether or not it is appropriate to reference RFCs that are not on the standards track (the "Informational" and "Experimental" RFCs) or those that are at the first level of standardization (the "Proposed Standard" RFCs).

Guideline: Some outputs of organizations may not be appropriate for normative referencing, others may not be appropriate for any referencing, normative or informative. In the case of the IETF, it is not appropriate to make any references to "Internet Drafts" or to "Historic" RFCs as noted in A.5. In addition, it is not appropriate to make normative references to RFCs that are considered "Informational" or "Experimental". References to RFCs that have the status of "Proposed Standards" should be made with caution and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis because such standards are considered immature in the sense that they may change if problems are found in real implementations or if better solutions are identified.

  1. IETF Address Changes The electronic address of the IETF archives has changed. Accordingly the addresses in items 4 and 9.8 of Annex A should be changed, respectively to: - for the IPR archive - for the RFC archive

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Copyright © The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.

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