Tony Rutkowski, an American once very active in the ITU, wrote a piece for CircleID lamenting the diminished role of Western companies. His conclusion was this was a rejection of the ITU. I strongly differed and wrote this comment.
Actually, many parts of the ITU are thriving. The new DSL standard, G.fast, was almost completely developed by the ITU working group. It brings DSL speeds to hundreds of megabits and sometimes a gigabit.
Tony is right many of the Western companies are less active. In one way, that's not a surprise. We've seen the end of formerly great contributors to communications like Siemens and Nortel as well as the decimation of Bell Labs. Everyone else has cut back.
Much of the slack in research - and ITU standards - is being taken up by Asian companies like Samsung, NTT and Huawei. The ITU, unlike most other groups, has done a great job of involving the new players. In other parts of the ITU, Africans and Latin Americans are deeply involved, a good thing.
The way to read Tony's data is a failure of U.S. and most European companies to keep up with the changing world. Most innovative communications work, other than software, is no longer developed in the West. We should take Tony's data as a warning we need more research, better supported, in the U.S. and Europe.
It's time for the U.S. to stop lamenting our lost glory and start working towards great results.
It's time to get past "White Man's Burden" thinking.