ITU closes HQ in Geneva to delegates

ITU said it receives about 16,000 delegates a year at its premises. (Pixabay)

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standards organization announced that starting today, all international meetings at ITU premises will be remote until April 17 at the earliest.

The organization said its premises in Geneva, Switzerland, will not be accessible to delegates and most visitors during this time.

“This action has been instigated to protect the health of ITU delegates and staff and to help to curb the spread of COVID-19,” ITU said on Friday, noting that the WHO Director-General the day prior had stated that all “all countries can still change the course of this pandemic. This is the first pandemic that can be controlled."

Prior to that announcement, the ITU had rescheduled two conferences due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The World Information Society (WS​IS) Forum was originally planned for April but it’s now going to be held August 31-September 4. The AI for Good Global Summit was originally to be held in May, and is now scheduled for September 21-25. Both events will take place at the same venue – the ITU headquarters in Geneva.

Last week, the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC) cancelled the IEEE 802 Plenary Session scheduled for March 15-20 in Atlanta.

The 3GPP also stopped all face-to-face Technical Specifications Group (TSG) and Working Group (WG) meetings for the first quarter of 2020, as well as meetings that were set for April. Instead, the meetings are being converted to e-meetings, with the focus of work during the second quarter to be on completing Release 16.

It’s unclear how these cancellations will affect the timing of actual standards. The GSMA last month cancelled the industry’s biggest trade show, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, an event where the industry traditionally discusses standards and processes.