An established and accomplished engineer and manager; multilingual standardization expert and holder of 23 patents, Tunisian born Dr. Bilel Jamoussi is currently chief of the study groups department of ITU secretariat’s Standardization Bureau in Geneva Switzerland where he is responsible for the organization and management of the ITU-T study groups, focus groups, global standardization initiatives, joint coordination activities, and their secretariat.

Holder of his ITU post since 2010, he has led the coordination of the bureau’s standards making activities into a new era characterized by the need for increased collaboration with vertical sectors such as the healthcare, car, aviation, utility and banking sectors.
Key achievements under his tenure have been the implementation of new important standards in the fields of e-health, multimedia, smart grid, broadband and green ICTs while effectively managing staff, projects, and resources.

Prior to 2010, Jamoussi worked for Nortel for 15 years in Canada and then in the United States where he held several leadership positions. During his time at Nortel he was granted and filed US patents in diverse areas including packet, optical, wireless, and quality of service. As Nortel's representative to the one laptop per child (OLPC) initiative he contributed to the availability of low-cost computers in support of education in developing countries and led the development of the Wireless Mesh networking used in the OLPC device that was to become the IEEE 802.11s standard.

A previous participant in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) he authored a number of Request for Comments (RFCs). As an IEEE Senior Member he was elected to the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Board of Governors (BOG) and the IEEE-SA Corporate Advisory Group (CAG). He served on the IEEE Standards Education Committee and was the Technical Liaison from IEEE-SA to ITU-T and ITU-D.

He holds a BSc, MSc and PhD  in Computer Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, USA. He is fluent in Arabic, French, and English and speaks some Spanish and German.

Telecom Review Africa was honored to conduct an exclusive interview with Dr. Jamoussi to highlight his journey and career that led him to currently be a candidate for the position of director of the Telecommunications Standards Bureau TSB at ITU.

Tunisia is presenting your candidacy for the director of the Telecommunications Standards Bureau TSB at ITU. Why are you well-suited for this position and what are the added-values you will bring?

This elected position require a trusted, innovative, and experienced leader as TSB Director who deeply understands the technologies being standardized, who has practiced the ITU standards development processes, who has the required trust, diplomacy, and neutrality to help find consensus among membership, who has exercised the ITU rules and policies, who can understand the diverse needs of developing and developed countries and communicate clearly in multiple languages of the union, and who has a proven management track of the diverse ITU staff and scarce financial resources.

I offer 27 years of professional experience: 15 years in the private sector as Director of Standards and 12 years in ITU as the Chief of the Study Groups Department in TSB to take on the challenges of the post of TSB Director to best serve ITU Members.

What are the tenets you aim to abide by once elected?

If elected, I will strive for an ITU-T that develops relevant international standards for interoperable networks and services to connect the world and enable the digital transformation through an inclusive, collaborative, and continuously improving standardization process, balancing the needs of developing and developed countries as well as large and small private sector stakeholders; leading TSB staff in a team formation with the other ITU elected officials through competence, integrity, transparency, and accountability.

Being an Arab candidate, how important is it to have the full support of Arab nations?

The Council of Arab Minister of ICT under the League of Arab States has decided to support my candidacy as the Arab Candidate for the post of TSB Director (Resolution 577). In addition, the Executive Council of the African Union has endorsed my candidacy to this post.

The Arab and African regions have been active supporters of the work of ITU-T by hosting the last three world telecommunication standardization assemblies (WTSA) of the ITU: in 2016 in Hammamet Tunisia, in 2012 Dubai UAE, and 2008 Johannesburg South Africa.

The unwavering support of these two regions is critical to bring geographic balance in the five elected positions of the ITU.

What do you consider to be the top priorities for the ITU and the TSB in specific in the upcoming few years?

  1. ITU-T to continue to provide a neutral and impartial platform, collaborating with other standards development organizations and UN agencies, and keeping ITU united through a consensus-based process.
  2. Inclusion remains a high priority through bridging the standardization gap to effectively contribute to the WSIS Tunis action lines and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs); by increasing gender balance in staff and delegates; and by providing accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs.
  3. ITU-T to quickly react and adapt to the ever-changing telecommunication and information and communication technologies landscape to develop relevant international standards.
  4. TSB to play a key role in transparently providing the required data and guidance to help membership find the optimal structure for the years to come.
  5. The new ITU building in Geneva requires a careful management of the transition period to ensure continuity of service to membership, and is an opportunity for accelerating ITU digital transformation, and increasing ITU’s environmental sustainability.
  6. Considering COVID-19 and its aftermath, continue the working methods transformation to support ITU standards development.

In your opinion, how important is it for standardization to be inclusive?

International standards developed in the ITU enhance interoperability of networks and services and enable the digital transformation to achieve the sustainable development goals. Standards, hence, need to be inclusive as they impact the lives of all citizens around the world.

What are the projects you aim to accomplish for the period 2023 – 2026?

  1. Encourage and promote connectivity standards of the fixed network in support of 5G and beyond, digital transformation standards in finance, transport, healthcare, cities and communities.
  2. Work with ITU-T members to restructure the Study Groups to be fit for purpose for the relevant new and emerging technologies of interest to membership.
  3. Transform the ITU standards development platform to take advantage of virtual meetings and best practices learned during the COVID-19 years.
  4. Ensure that there is service continuity for members during the new ITU building project by using virtual meetings and hosting meeting in diverse regions of the world.
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