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Business News of Saturday, 16 May 2015

Source: Samuel Dowuona

ITU approves standards for effective, safe telecoms in vehicles

The Telecoms Study Group 12 of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T SG12) chaired by Ghana's Kwame Baah Acheamfuor has approved two new revolutionary standards for car manufacturers to design inbuilt effective and safe telecoms systems in cars beginning 2017.

One of the standards is meant for easy and effective emergency calls from any part inside a vehicle in times of distress, while the second is to allow drivers to be able to do safe telephone communications while still driving.

The two standards were approved during the the 10-day meeting of the ITU-T SG12 in Geneva, which ended May 14, 2015 with an announcement of the two standards at an event moderated by Baah Acheamfuor live on webinar across the world, with translations in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Russian.

The standards fulfill the vision of Baah Acheamfuor, who assured the world and the ITU at his appointment as Chair of ITU-T SG12 in 2013, to work with the car manufacturers in Europe to develop standards for effective communication from vehicles in distress and safe use of phones by drivers while driving.

The vision was largely based on a request from the European Union (EU), and it took them nine months to fully develop the standards. Now the EU has committed to inculcating them into their laws beginning this July, and also to ensure that by 2017 all cars in the EU would be compliant.

The first standard, meant for effective emergency calls from a vehicle in distress, requires vehicle manufacturers to build a dedicated communication system in all vehicles for that purpose; and other kit to be used with the inbuilt system are also required to meet set standards.

It recommends the following:

- that the system should be built to generate automatic phone calls (or manual if possible) in hands free mode (without vehicle occupants having to hold any receiver to their ear) from a vehicle in accident.

- that the call should be between the vehicle in accident/distress and the nearest point of assistance.

- that it should be possible to speak and hear from any part inside the vehicle in distress; and that silent calls should also be possible among other things.

With respect to the second one about safe telephone communications while driving, it helps manufacturers to design a system that allows the driver to connect his phone to the car and be able to hear speech on phone calls like a CD play, so that the driver would not have to use his hands on phone while driving.

Kwame Baah Acheamfuor, who is also Senior Manager at Ghana's National Communications Authority, said the new standard is meant to reverse the laws that prohibit people from driving and speaking on phone.

He believes if those standards are met by the manufacturers, it would eventually cause nations around the world to amend their laws on the use of phones while driving, because the new standards will make it safe.

ITU-T Study Group 12 develops international standards on performance, quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE).

Its work spans the full spectrum of terminals, networks and services, ranging from speech over fixed circuit-switched networks to multimedia applications over mobile and packet-based networks.

The standards developed by the group are highly relevant to operators in providing the level of service necessary to attract and retain customers in today’s competitive business environment.