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October 23, 2019

From Conference Preparatory Meeting to WRC‑19

Khalid Al‑Awadi, Chairman of the Conference Preparatory Meeting for WRC‑19

Now that the second session of the Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM19‑2) for the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC‑19) is over, the world is ready to take the final mile in deciding on positions with regard to the agenda items of the conference.

The CPM Report to WRC‑19, which is the output of the CPM19‑2 meeting, would be the main reference for ITU Member States to learn about the background of every agenda item, as well as a summary and analysis of the results of studies conducted in ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau.

We are used to seeing all regional groups, and ITU Member States, converge to single conclusions, by making compromises on the different topics.

Members will also now be aware of the proposed methods to satisfy each of the agenda items, and the regulatory and procedural considerations associated with each of the methods. This, however, does not preclude any regional group or ITU Member State from introducing a new approach to satisfy the agenda items during the conference itself.

Chairing the pre-conference discussions

Chairing CPM19‑2 was quite an experience for me, with the knowledge that there were almost 1300 delegates from 106 ITU Member States and 83 Sector Members participating in the meeting. They came with a total of 198 contributions to be discussed over nine days. They aimed to reach convergence, or otherwise, include all concerns and points of view in the final CPM Report, which was crafted during the meeting.


At the beginning, you feel that it’s a challenging task to conduct over nine days, given the variety of positions and views on each agenda item to be discussed. But when you focus on the real task and mandates of the meeting, you realize that there is no right or wrong.

All delegates are participating with the aim of understanding each other — and to reduce the burden during the conference. This is not the World Radiocommunication Conference itself, yet.

Brief outcomes of the Conference Preparatory Meeting

The results of the CPM were fascinating. We succeeded in coming to agreement on the eighth day. We succeeded in agreeing on a single conclusion for some candidate frequency bands under agenda item 1.13 for 5G (IMT-2020) identification, and also agenda item 1.16, for wireless access systems, including radio local area networks (WAS/RLAN). We succeeded in agreeing on a single conclusion for some regulatory issues related to space services that are being discussed under agenda item 7. Also, we agreed on a single conclusion for studies being conducted regarding sub-orbital vehicles, wireless power transmission for electric vehicles, and spectrum to support the implementation of narrowband and broadband machine-type communication infrastructure.

All delegates are participating with the aim of understanding each other — and to reduce the burden during the conference. This is not the World Radiocommunication Conference itself, yet.

On the other hand, we realized that some other items of the conference were not so easy, and there were great differences in positions between regional groups. Nevertheless, we succeeded in taking all views and positions into consideration, and included all of them in the final CPM Report to WRC‑19.

This effort will undoubtedly have facilitated the work of the world’s regional groups in preparing for the conference. CPM19‑2 left us all with a clear understanding on which issues are almost agreed on and concluded, and which issues require extra efforts and coordination between the regional groups prior to the start of WRC‑19.

The period following the 2nd session of the CPM is a critical stage, where all regional groups conduct their final round of discussions to have their final positions on the agenda items of the conference.

Regional groups — final preparations for WRC‑19

My regional group, the Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG) conducted its final meeting prior to WRC‑19 (ASMG‑25) between 27 July and 1 of August in Cairo, Egypt. ASMG extended the invitation to all other regional groups to participate in the ASMG meeting to discuss the final positions of the regional groups and to endeavour to reach a common understanding.

All other regional groups also held their meetings during the summer of 2019 (see all groups and meetings), and I understand that invitations were extended among the groups to attend each other’s meetings. This enthusiasm to discuss WRC‑19 matters before the conference itself is an indication of how everyone is eager to conclude the discussions on the WRC‑19 agenda items as smoothly as possible.

Inter-regional workshops — a tremendous WRC‑19 preparation tool

We felt the effect of regional group coordination during the 3rd session of the ITU’s Inter-regional Workshop on WRC‑19 Preparation, held from 4 to 6 September 2019, in Geneva. These workshops have been a tremendous tool in understanding each other’s differences and concerns, and with less than two months away from the start of the conference, more commonalities between the regional groups were identified during the workshop.

WRC‑19 hot topics

Many hot topics are expected to get thoroughly discussed at WRC‑19, such as identification of IMT‑2020 bands, which will be used for 5G applications, and the effect of this identification on Earth exploration satellite services (EESS), non-geostationary (NGSO) satellite systems, regulatory procedures, and their use of spectrum. The use of spectrum by high-altitude platform stations (HAPS), the introduction of additional satellite systems into the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS), the use of spectrum by earth stations in motion (ESIM) will also be discussed, and many more.

We can only hope that this conference will be as good as previous WRCs. We are indeed used to seeing all regional groups, and ITU Member States, converge to single conclusions, by making compromises on the different topics.

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From Conference Preparatory Meeting to WRC‑19

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