Data deluge motivates ITU standard on deep packet inspection

wtsa-12blogITU-T members have approved a new ITU standard on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) which will enable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to manage network traffic more efficiently and thereby heighten users’ quality of service and quality of experience (QoS and QoE). These buy-side advantages are mirrored by advantages on the supply-side, in that ISPs are granted another tool to curb their capex and opex costs as the demand for network infrastructure expansion continues to grow.

The World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA) held in Dubai last November resolved some concerns regarding maintaining privacy after it was noted that the standard deals with the identification of the application used rather than the inspection of users content. The standard does not allow access to users’ private information and allows measures to ensure the secrecy of correspondence.

The standard know as Recommendation ITU-T Y.2770, Requirements for Deep Packet Inspection in Next Generation Networks, is a product of ITU-T Study Group 13 (Future networks including mobile and NGN) and was one of six ITU-T Recommendations submitted to WTSA for approval.

ITU-T Y.2770 provides for efficiencies in network management demanded by application and service-aware networks such as Smart Pipe, Network Intelligence Capability Enhancement(NICE), Smart Ubiquitous Networks (SUN), and Content Centric Networking (CCN) – all future ITU-T study items.

ISPs have in the past used “over provisioning” of bandwidth to meet the requirements of network applications. However, as new high-bandwidth Internet applications emerge, “over provisioning” has been detrimental to sustainable network evolution. DPI thus presents a fine-grained, long-term traffic management solution to aid ISPs in contending with volumes of traffic rising at an exponential rate.

Internet applications currently shift their communication ports and protocols randomly, and an increasing number of applications are evolving into web-based services. ITU-T Y.2770 therefore outlines the technical requirements of identifying and managing network applications unambiguously through protocol, port and application signatures.

ITU-T Y.2770 additionally states in its scope that “Implementers and users of the described techniques shall comply with all applicable national and regional laws, regulations and policies.” The standard also references complementary standards work on “intelligent traffic management architectures”, in which DPI plays an important role. Examples include 3GPP’s Policy and charging control (PCC), IETF’s Common Open Policy Service (COPS), ETSI’s Resource and Admission Control Sub-System (RACS) and ITU-T’s Resource and Admission Control Functions (RACF) (Recommendation ITU-T Y.2111, Resource and admission control functions in Next Generation Networks).

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2770 will soon be available for downloading free of charge here.

For more information on the work of ITU-T Study Group 13, visit the group’s webpage here.

toby-johnsonBy Toby Johnson, ITU

Toby Johnson is a communications professional with 15+ years experience in the tech space. In the UK he edited various trade magazines, also taking freelance commissions formore mainstream media. At ITU he has led a new era of outreach championing new and social media and pro-active relations. Currently, Toby heads up the media outreach, membership, academia and workshop organization for the standardization sector of ITU.


  1. ITU attempted to rebut these allegations, publishing a blog post on Thursday attempting to clarify why the new standard was adopted ahead of the Dubai WCIT-12.

  2. ITU endorsement of a DPI standard (described in a post on the ITU blog) isn’t necessarily an endorsement of any particular use of the technology, but it’s guaranteed to get people wondering.

  3. ian greene · ·

    Hey, Toby. If the United States doesn’t want to follow this new law, is there anything stopping us?

  4. Doesn’t this go against net neutrality?

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