Broadband/Network | Emergency Comms | Infrastructure | Network Management | Spectrum Management
October 29, 2020

Managing spectrum to bridge the digital divide in the Asia-Pacific Region

By Mario Maniewicz, Director, ITU Radiocommunication Bureau

*This article has been adapted from my remarks at the ITU Regional Radiocommunication Seminar for the Asia-Pacific Region.

Almost one year has passed since the last World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-19), and so much has happened since.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the vital importance of digital technologies for individuals, societies and economies around the world. These technologies have enabled teleworking, distance learning, e-health, and have allowed for business continuity. However, the crisis has also brought to the forefront the urgent need of reducing the digital divide.

ITU is committed to connecting all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their means. To this end, the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) works to ensure interference-free operations and the performance and quality of radiocommunication systems. It does so by developing and updating international regulations and standards.

A revised treaty

In 2019, the WRC revised the international treaty that governs the use of spectrum and orbits. The 2020 Edition of the Radio Regulations is now available for download. I strongly encourage all Administrations to use these regulations as the basis for your National legislation framework.

By implementing the decisions taken at WRC-19, Administrations enable the development of new technologies and innovative applications in the telecommunications field. In turn, using digital technologies to their full potential empowers nations to better respond to and recover from global crises.

We have seen this first-hand at ITU, where most of our events and meetings have moved online. While virtual events have posed some challenges, remote participation has enabled many new people to join our meetings. Not only have budgetary and travel constraints been removed, but we have also observed a 100 per cent increase in participation in ITU-R Study Group meetings and seminars.

Regional seminar objectives and overview

The main objective of this seminar is to extend assistance to Member States in spectrum management activities and in the application of the Radio Regulations, with special attention to developing countries. I am pleased to note that around 200 participants from 28 countries in the Asia-Pacific region will be joining us during this Regional Seminar to discuss various aspects of radiocommunications.

The seminar will overview basic concepts of spectrum management at national and international levels, as well as the ITU Radio Regulations (RR) and the ITU basic texts. Both ITU and ITU-R structures and functions will be presented, including those of ITU-R Study Groups and Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) departments.

The first part of the seminar will also cover the regulatory framework for both terrestrial and space services and the procedures for recording of frequency assignments in the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR).

The second part of the seminar consists of tutorials on the use of ICT tools developed by the BR for frequency notifications and technical examinations. This will enable the participants to get experience with ITU notification procedures, as well as with the software and electronic publications made available by the BR.

The Seminar will conclude with a Forum entitled “Radiocommunications Trends: Opportunities and challenges for the Region.” It will cover several aspects of interest to Asia-Pacific countries, such as aeronautical and maritime services, emergency communications, satellite communications, 5G spectrum pricing, and cognitive radio systems. The seminar will conclude with a roundtable on WRC-19 outcomes and the WRC-23 Agenda.

An eye on the Asia-Pacific region

The Asia-Pacific region has shown significant growth in terms of ICT development, including enhanced emphasis on broadband connectivity and adoption of digital strategies, policies and plans to build smart cities and societies. ITU statistics indicate that over 98 per cent of the population in the region is covered by a mobile network. However, individuals using the internet stand at less than 50 per cent.

The region encompasses countries that vary in size, economy, geopolitics and social realities. These differences are also reflected in the Asia-Pacific’s ICT sector. The region has both top-tier countries with highly advanced digital economies, and numerous Least Developed and Small Island States that face specific social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities. The ITU is working to ensure the connection of all people and the digital transformation of all countries.

We have worked closely with the Asia-Pacific member states before to advance radio spectrum management and I look forward to our continued collaboration. Whether in applying the Radio Regulations or ensuring systems operate free of harmful interference, rest assured that the ITU is ready to provide any technical assistance you may require.

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Managing spectrum to bridge the digital divide in the Asia-Pacific Region

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