Document Type



This paper aims to examine the influence of private corporations in the tripartite structure of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU): Telecommunications Standardization, Radiocommunication, and Telecommunications Development. The paper finds that, in the standardization sector, power has been effectively transferred from nation states to the private corporate sector since the approval process now enables standards to be approved by members of the study group that developed them, which is essentially the private sector. In the radiocommunication sector, the private sector continues to conduct much of the requisite technical work, but national governments are ultimately the decision makers and, further, it is difficult to distinguish between treaty and non-treaty work. In the development sector, the ITU seeks to create an enabling environment for private investment in developing countries and actively seeks to build private sector partnerships. In the long run the ITU may be unable to satisfy either its narrow corporate constituency or the vast majority of its developing country members. As the United Nations agency which coordinates satellite spacing and allocates access to the electromagnetic spectrum on an international basis, the ITU is the world's most prominent international telecommunications institution, so its structural modifications and membership changes are of great significance in a world increasingly dependent on a global grid of wired and wireless telecommunications networks.


Communication | Infrastructure | International and Area Studies | International Relations | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation


This is the author’s final manuscript version, post-peer-review, and formatted for archiving; a definitive version was subsequently published in info: the journal of policy, regulation and strategy for telecommunications, information, and media, 9(4). July 2007. pp. 70-80. Available at: