Unlike ISO and IEC standards, most ITU standards are free to the public! All ITU-T Recommendations are published at You can find all the familiar names: V.92, X.25, X.509, or H.264 (800 pages) There are even epub files for some new documents.

They even still have a recommendation on Morse code (#CW). ITU started as "International Telegraphic Union" long time ago... Some recommendations given in that document do not coincide with the actual practice of the #hamradio CW sub-community, the most sizeable community that still does it.

@dj3ei The most famous ITU publication is probably the Radio Regulations (ITU RR), the legal basis of the use of radio spectrum worldwide, all serious ham radio operators should take a look. It's quite an interesting document.

@niconiconi It indeed makes an interesting read!

Not so sure about its universal utility, though. Legal base is local.

And the #hamradio service is special in it does not operate by any fixed written standard. It continuously adjusts its own procedures, informally.

E.g., by the RR book, "CQ QRP" would mean "all stations, please lower your transmit power". In the #hamradio service, it has come to mean: "I am seeking a contact with any low-power station."

Nothing wrong with that.

@niconiconi For what it is worth: At the German Hamradio fair, I have been in a presentation yesterday of the ENAMS project. It has distributed some 50 or 60 stations, most of them in Germany, that continuously measure radio background noise data. It wants to establish what the present state is, compared to the data published as recommendation ITU-R P.372-12 (07/2015) "Radio noise". I understand the latter is mostly based on measurements some 50 years old.

@dj3ei ITU RR is an international treaty and legally binding, all ITU signatories (today they're simply UN members) are responsible to implement equivalent baseline rules in national legislation. This is why the laws in most countries sometimes have very similar rules, and worded similarly, since they're derived from RR. For example, amateur radio is universally defined as non-commercial service, this is derived from RR. For another example, people often say "spark-gap transmitters are banned by international laws", this is also derived from RR. It would be very wrong if a country's doesn't honor the obligations in RR, such as the requirements for protecting emergency communication.

ITU-T Rec. on the other hand are only technical standards, it's up to the users to decided whether to adopt it or not. Nothing wrong with that.

Absolutely correct! So a country's rulemakers must (and do) read this stuff. But to an individual citizen, its the rules made by their country they have to read and follow. Practically speaking, hamradio exams typically don't require fluency in a language different from the (administrative) language of the country, and the RR typically have not been translated to the latter. Studying for the exam, you're indeed made aware the RR exist, but are not required to read any of it.

@niconiconi other places where you can find free standards:
- ECMA for lots of computer stuff, including the ISO9660 filesystem, physical specs for floppy discs, ANSI escape sequences, JSON (ECMA-404), the C# language, the windows 3.11 API, … (several are republications of ANSI or ISO standards, but for free)
- DVB for all things TV broadcast and satellite communications (famous for the way they encapsulated IP packets in MPEG frames to repurpose their TV stuff into internet stuff)

@niconiconi ETSI and CEPT/ERO standards are also free to download (but a very long read, particularly GSM/DECT and LTE specificiations!) but generally follow ITU recommendations.

Nowadays your country's national Communications Ministry (eg Ofcom, BNetzA, Agentschap Telecom etc) will also publish a lot of useful documents on local practices/regulations, radio frequency allocations etc (these used to be classified information in UK until the 90s!)

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