International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium
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The International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium (IMTC) is an organization consisting of several companies interested in real-time, rich-media communications. Rich media includes voice and one-way (or two-way) data and one-way (or two-way) video. Members of this community include Internet application developers and service providers, teleconferencing hardware and software suppliers and service providers, telecommunications service providers and equipment vendors, end users, educational institutions, government agencies and non-profit corporations. On July 28, 2014 IMTC and the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF) merged into one consortium. The UCI Forum defined interoperability profiles and certification tests, implementation guidelines, and best practices for interoperability between UC products and existing applications.
The IMTC focuses on:
- Identifying gaps in standards that enable real-time, rich-media communications and the obstacles to ubiquitous utilization of the required products and services in wide area and enterprise networks.
- Developing and submitting technology recommendations to official standards bodies -such as the European Telecommunication Standards Initiative (ETSI), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) - to enhance the interoperability and usability of rich-media products and services.
- Initiating and conducting interoperability test sessions between suppliers of rich-media products and services.
- Educating and promoting the business and consumer communities on the progress and the benefits of the underlying technologies and applications.
Headquartered in San Ramon, California, the IMTC was formed in September 1994 through a merger of The Consortium for Audiographics Teleconferencing Standards, Inc. (CATS) and the Multimedia Communications Community of Interest (MCCOI). CATS, formed in 1993, focused on the T.120 standards suite for multipoint data conferencing. MCCOI, also formed in 1993, focused on the ITU-T H.320 (ISDN) and H.324 (POTS) standards suites for multipoint video communications. In December 1995, the IMTC merged with the Personal Conferencing Work Group, Inc. (PCWG). The PCWG had also focused on multimedia teleconferencing standards as well as the needs of users of products and services in this category.
The IMTC initiated formal standards initiatives and testing programs (aka Plug fests) to improve interoperability of the products and services in the ecosystem.
From the mid-1990s, as the rich-media communications concept extended beyond traditional switched networks to include Internet Protocol (IP) networks, the IMTC acted as an industry convergence point for Voice, Data, and Video over IP. At that time IMTC's efforts resulted in the promulgation of the ITU-T H.323 (packet-based video) standard, agreement on the initial Voice over IP (VoIP) Implementation Framework, and the first integrated interoperability tests involving the ITU-T T.120, H.320, H.324, H.323 standards and emerging IETF requests for comments (RFCs) such as session initiation protocol (SIP).
Today, the IMTC retains its focus on addressing rich-media deployment obstacles and interoperability in wide area and enterprise networks. The initiatives IMTC sponsors now include 3GPP, packet switched streaming techniques, enterprise network address translation and wireless/mobility. Its efforts enable service providers and vendors to create more compatible rich-media products, applications and services, which in turn facilitate the widespread adoption of the offerings by protecting end-users' capital investments and meeting usability expectations.
In the mid-1990s, IMTC's Standards First! initiatives spurred the creation of the ITU-T T.120, H.320, H.324, and H.323 standards that led to the first cross-protocol switched and packet interoperability test sessions (later branded as SuperOp!).
In the mid/late-1990s IMTC released a Voice over IP Implementation Agreement, which specified dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) data transfer and reproduction, and IP-specific needs such as directory services and dynamic IP address resolution mechanisms to support multi-party voice and voice-band calls over IP networks.
Test suites and procedures developed by the IMTC in the late 1990s demonstrated the viability of connecting gatekeepers, gateways, proxies, MCUs, endpoints and network components into integrated rich-media sessions and interoperability and interworking between IP networks and switched-circuit networks including H.323, SIP, the iNOW! Profile, and the T.120, H.320, H.324 M, H.248/Megaco, and H.450 protocols.
More recently IMTC has begun to highlight the interoperability of multimedia offerings for mobile phone users. These offerings are based on the 3GPP specifications for streaming, and interacting with, multimedia content (such as newscasts) on demand and in real-time over 3G wireless networks. They support offline file exchange (which involves raw codec bitstreams, packetized bitstreams and the 3GPP/MPEG-4 file format) and virtual streaming over the Internet and include streaming servers, multimedia terminals and content-creation tools in the value chain.
The IMTC is structured as an open organization, and is controlled by its Voting Members. The IMTC's Board of Directors, which oversees the management of the corporation and establishes its operating policies, is elected annually by the Voting Members. Any Voting Member can submit a candidate in these elections. Voting Members also ratify the IMTC's annual budget and any changes to IMTC's corporate by-laws, ensuring that a majority ratifies any changes to member rights and privileges.
The IMTC also follows a defined consensus decision-making process. Specifications and recommendations that require product development work, and issues which commit the IMTC to a specific course of action, are balloted within the membership for majority approval. All members are encouraged to participate, voice opinions and help resolve issues. This reflects IMTC's strong commitment to an inclusive, open structure and a "make things happen" environment.
Membership in the IMTC is open to any and all interested parties, including Internet application developers and service providers, teleconferencing hardware and software suppliers, telecommunications service providers, teleconferencing service providers, end users, educational institutions, government agencies, and non-profit corporations.