Senior representatives of the world's telecommunications standards organisations from Europe (ETSI), Japan (TTC), Korea (TTA) and North America (T1, TIA) gathered in Geneva in June, agreed to join forces towards the goal of achieving global roaming for users anywhere and anytime within the framework of ITU standards. The International Mobile Telecommunication 2000 project (or IMT-2000) is an initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which aims to integrate the various satellite, terrestrial, fixed and mobile systems currently being deployed and developed under an 'umbrella standard' or concept of "family of systems".

Endorsed by all the participating standardisation bodies, this concept is intended to facilitate the evolution from today's regional second generation systems that are incompatible with one another, towards third generation systems that will provide users with genuine global service capabilities and interoperability soon after the year 2000. Third generation systems will enable users not only to roam among countries which currently use different technologies, but will also be capable of seamlessly moving between multiple networks - fixed and mobile, cordless and cellular. As a result, product life cycle for core network and transmission components should be longer and network operators, service providers and manufacturers should benefit from increased flexibility and cost effectiveness. A definite boon for the industry, the global approach embedded in IMT-2000 whether technical, operational or functional, should also prove particularly attractive to developing countries.

But perhaps more important, are the considerable...

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