Perspectives on WRC-19

ITU’s Views on the WRC-19

Mario Maniewicz
Director, Radiocommunication Bureau
ITU


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Q. What significant role have the World Radiocommuncation Conferences played in telecommunications development around the world?

A. The World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs) review and revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty that governs the international use of radio spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and other satellite orbits

These Regulations have played a key role in the development of applications and services using the radio spectrum, including terrestrial and satellite communications, which have evolved from telegraphs to fixed and mobile, maritime and aeronautical communications; the introduction and subsequent transition from analogue to digital broadcasting; providing signals used for positioning, navigation and timing; expanding our knowledge of the universe and our planet via support for radio astronomy, space exploration and earth observation, including weather forecasting and measuring climate change; supporting safety of life, including maritime and aeronautical distress communications; global flight tracking and on and on...

The WRCs work towards ensuring all countries have equitable access to spectrum and orbits, and the limited natural resources are used rationally, efficiently and economically. Operation of stations in accordance to the Radio Regulations enables the provision of services that are free of harmful interference, and support achieving the goals of equipment interoperability, roaming, and economies of scale.

For more than 110 years the WRCs have supported technological and social development for the benefit of all.

The 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-19), which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh from 28 October to 22 November, will have profound impact not only on the advancement of radiocommunications, but also on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Q. What significant milestones are expected to be achieved during WRC-19?

A. The 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-19), which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh from 28 October to 22 November, will have profound impact not only on the advancement of radiocommunications, but also on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The agenda for WRC-19 covers a series of issues related to the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. It includes items that will have an impact on the future broadband and on the digital society, such as 5G (IMT-2020 in ITU terminology), High Altitude Platforms (HAPS), radio local area networks (RLANs); and also terrestrial wireless applications such as aeronautical and maritime communications, intelligent transport systems (ITS), Railway wireless technologies; and Satellite systems such as non-geostationary satellite orbits (non-GSO) FSS, and Earth stations in motion (ESIM).

Q. Spectrum challenges for the Industry are immense. How is the ITU prepared to help address these challenges through new approaches?

A. The preparation for WRCs is a four-year process in which the ITU Member States, ITU-R Sector Members, Associates and Academia participate and which is coordinated through national, regional, and inter-regional preparatory processes. The most important aspects of the preparatory work for WRCs are the technical and regulatory studies carried out within the ITU-R Study Groups. These studies provide the technical basis for the decisions made by the WRCs. Underpinned by the technical work performed by the ITU-R Study Groups, the WRC is able to be a reliable and stable process that aims at building consensus. The ITU provides the platform for representatives of governments and regulators and other stakeholders to come together and discuss the relevant parts of the Radio Regulations and commit to the modifications to the international treaty.

The ITU-R Study Groups address the spectrum challenges by conducting sharing and compatibility studies between incumbent and possible future users of radio frequencies. These studies take into account the requirements of the services and the technical characteristics of all systems involved to determine what is technically and/or economically possible.

The WRCs work towards ensuring all countries have equitable access to spectrum and orbits, and the limited natural resources are used rationally, efficiently and economically.

Q. In what ways could we see a different digital communications industry after WRC-19?

A. During the last years we have witnessed the flourishing of new applications and web-based services. Social media and search engines have changed considerably the digital communications industry. And areas such as digital advertising, content creation and content strategy are strongly based on data, or more specifically on data collection, storage and analysis.

The evolution of data solutions have only been possible due to the development of wireless communications. Mobile infrastructure has been used to increase broadband connectivity and provide seamless experience to end users.

WRC-19 will consider technologies (see answer to Q.2) to further expand broadband wireless communications. This will enable sharing of any type of content anytime, anywhere through any device. Devices will collect and share real time data. Users will generate more content and share this content without being limited by time and location. The availability of huge amounts of live data represents a change in paradigm to the digital communications industry.

Q. Is there any visibility on what may come under focus during WRC-23?

A. The preliminary agenda for the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2023 (WRC-23) is contained in the Resolution 810 (WRC-15) and includes Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), Earth exploration-satellite (active) service for space-borne radar sounders, space weather sensors, fixed-satellite service, and services within the frequency band 470-960 MHz in Region 1.

Further agenda items for WRC-23 are expected to be proposed by the Regional groups and by Administrations to WRC-19. In addition, as an outcome of WRC-19 discussions, new items may also be proposed to the agenda of WRC-23.

The collection of Agenda Items agreed upon will then be considered and approved by Council.

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