By Albert Nalbandian, Chairman, WG WRC-23, Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC); and Alexandre Kholod, Chairman, CPG-23, Conference of European Postal and Telecommunication Administrations (CEPT)
“At ITU we are making full use of technology to ensure that our key meetings, and events such as this one, go virtual and that we continue delivering to the expectations of our Members,” said Mario Maniewicz, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, as he opened the recent ITU Regional Seminar for Europe and CIS on Spectrum Management and Broadcasting that was held remotely on 1 and 2 July.
Expectations were exceeded with a turnout of over 300 participants from more than 60 countries and 40 eminent speakers who gathered online to discuss the issue of spectrum, the management of which is fundamental to connect the globe and ensure efficient continuation for business and other socio-economic activities despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As a starter, the event provided a good stage to discuss implementation of decisions recently achieved at WRC-19 and to address the organization of work for the next three and a half years leading up to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23).
In this respect, Dr Alexandre Kholod, Chairman of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Conference Preparatory Group, highlighted the success of WRC-19 that had managed to resolve all contentious issues on its agenda. As far as WRC-23 is concerned, CEPT was behind a number of proposals on its agenda and is equally interested that the next conference resolves all the issues raised. It was also noted that agenda items dealing with the revision of the UHF band and the IMT identification in the mid-bands would be certainly prominent issues at WRC-23.
Mr. Albert Nalbandian, Chairman of The Regional Commonwealth in Field of Communications (RCC) Working Group (WG) for the preparation to WRC-23, created by the RCC Commission on radiofrequency spectrum (RFS) and satellite orbits (SO), reported that preparations have already started. A preparatory plan for WRC-23, the principles for the preparation of the RCC common proposals (CP) for the work of WRC-23, andCoordinators for each WRC-23 agenda item proposed by the RCC WG have been approved by Commission. The list of RCC Coordinators is available for CEPT and all Regional organizations. The next meeting of the RCC WG is scheduled for September 2020.
The importance of inter-regional cooperation
Both Chairs also emphasized that the key to the success of the next conference resided in organizing transparent preparations on a regional level with involvement of all concerned stakeholders, and in maintaining inter-regional consultations and close cooperation throughout the whole study period.
With its eight sessions, the Regional Seminar also went beyond discussing WRC and highlighted the importance of having wider discussions and cross-border sharing of information and experiences in parallel to regional preparatory processes in order to facilitate the conversation among stakeholders and support the identification of concrete actions and steps for the future.
The sessions documented the main challenges that National Administrations, National Regulatory Authorities and Industry face on a daily basis vis-à-vis the latest innovations, market developments as well as changes in national and international regulatory landscapes relating to spectrum management, with particular attention to 5G.
The topic of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) was certainly a conference highlight, with interventions from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The need of clear and objective communication when it comes to risk management and public awareness on the topic was highlighted as fundamental, a point also raised by Member States and that may require increasing capacity building in the regions.
Notably, the sessions on International and Regional Cross-border Frequency Coordination revealed the value of sharing different experiences from National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), and the session addressing the ever-changing landscape of Broadcasting highlighted relevant work undertaken in ITU-R, ITU-D and ITU-T Study Groups as well as the views of industry. As in all sessions, this informed NRAs about how common issues are addressed elsewhere, enabling an assessment of where they stand in relation to specific topics. In this context, ITU is eager to play its role of assistance to NRAs, and to facilitate engagement in the work carried out by the Study Groups.
From a more systemic perspective, the cross-sectoral integration across space, broadcasting and terrestrial operators was advocated by various stakeholders in the context of strategic spectrum planning and spectrum economics. This may be achieved through new regulatory models for spectrum allocation and an active role of regulators that would support convergence of services and integration with verticals, thus fostering an economically sustainable and balanced achievement of societal objectives.
All in all, the event jointly organized by Europe and CIS Regional Offices within ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) together with the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) was a success and showcased ITU cross-sectoral collaboration in the quest of delivering value to its membership and advancing ITU Regional Initiatives for Europe and CIS, despite the current global slowdown.
Just as CEPT and RCC have transferred their work into online mode, it is fundamental to continue stimulating the virtual conversation in a field as important as spectrum management through cross-regional coordination aimed at advancing national, regional and international agendas.