Emerging Trends
February 13, 2020

Here’s how the diversity of radio services improves lives worldwide

By Mario Maniewicz, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau

Today, the world celebrates World Radio Day.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to highlight once again that, at the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium.

With this year’s theme being diversity, UNESCO reminds us that “radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity.”

Indeed, it is! But radio is so much more than that.

The power of radiocommunications

Radiocommunications are a crucial element underpinning the information and communication technologies (ICTs) that power our wireless world – and, thus, our digital economy.

From farming to banking to healthcare, nearly every sector of the economy increasingly relies on radiocommunications in some key way.

Indeed, radiocommunications enable mobile phone calls, broadcast television programmes, satellite navigation, online maps — and much more.

This increasingly diverse range of ICT applications is improving the lives of billions of people across the world.

And on World Radio Day, it’s worth remembering the diverse range of radio systems that enable this progress – and ITU’s critical role in making it all work.

A diverse range of radio systems

Broadly, radio systems support communications in all its forms – from sound and image to fixed and mobile to narrowband and broadband. This communication takes place between people and increasingly from machine to machine.

Radio systems also support all aspects of human endeavors, such as: safety of transportation systems on land, in the air or at sea; manned and unmanned space exploration; radio astronomy; earth exploration, climate monitoring and weather forecasting – and much more.

For example, because of the diversity of radio services and their users, the global community benefits from the amateur radio community who are able to restore and maintain communications during a crisis or emergency response when the normal or preexisting telecommunications infrastructure are no longer available. Amateur radio operators can be vital first responders who transmit key information that is often critical to saving lives during times of disaster or health crises, especially in the world’s most remote and least-developed areas.

Diversity in radio, diversity at ITU

For us at ITU, diversity starts with our members.

Diversity is essential in the mission of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector.

ITU’s global membership includes 193 Member States as well as some 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. They represent a cross-section of the global ICT sector, from the world’s largest manufacturers and carriers to small, innovative players working with new and emerging technologies, along with leading R&D and academic institutions.

We are, without a doubt, one of the most diverse groups of stakeholders working together to ensure that our wireless world functions smoothly.

Diversity in our work

Also, we see tremendous diversity in the work that we do.

ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) seeks to ensure that harmonized radio-frequency spectrum and common transmission standards are available for a wide and diverse range of radio services and platforms that can improve the lives of people:

Diversity is incorporated in the work of ITU-R to fulfill its mandate.

For example, there are six ITU-R Study Groups addressing diverse radiocommunication services, such as satellite services, terrestrial (land, maritime and aeronautical) services and science services, as well as the foundational fields of spectrum management and radio wave propagation.

Diversity is essential in the mission of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector which is, among other things, to ensure rational, equitable, efficient and economical use of the radio-frequency spectrum by all radiocommunication services, including those using satellite orbits, and to carry out studies and adopt recommendations on radiocommunication matters.

Improving ITU’s diversity

ITU has already made great strides to enhance the diversity of our membership to include new members who reflect the rapidly changing ICT landscape.

ITU has increased its membership from 700 to more than 900 members in the past few years. More than 270 of these members are members of our Radiocommunication Sector.

I look forward to continuing to improve the diversity of our work to connect the world, so that people everywhere can reap the benefits of today’s digital economy.

We have also increased the diversity of the types of radio systems and platforms used and provided by our members in recent years. For example, ITU’s members now include providers and operators of mega-satellite constellations, small satellites, and even providers of high-altitude platform stations (HAPS).

We are welcoming more Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to participate in the activities of the ITU-R to support the introduction of new radio innovations and advances, and to attract participation by newer enterprises.

ITU is on the move!

Still, we have tremendous work to do to attract more women to the male-dominated field of radiocommunications. I’m happy to say that we are beginning to accelerate progress on that front.

The Network of Women (NOW) Initiative – including the gender resolution passed recently at our World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 – seeks to increase the number of women involved in radiocommunications in all areas. This will bring the benefits of greater diversity to the development of radiocommunications systems and services.

I look forward to continuing to improve the diversity of our work to connect the world, so that people everywhere can reap the benefits of today’s digital economy.

LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images
  • Was this article Helpful ?
  • yes   no
© International Telecommunication Union 1865-2018 All Rights Reserved.
ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Here’s how the diversity of radio services improves lives worldwide

Send this to a friend