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October 14, 2021

Why we need technical standards to manage radio-frequency spectrum efficiently

By Mario Maniewicz, Director, ITU Radiocommunication Bureau

The efficient and economical use of the radio-frequency spectrum by all radiocommunication services is critical to advance the world’s digital transformation for all and ensure a sustainable global future.

This year’s World Standards Day calls for a “Shared vision for a better world”, whereby all of us stand united and work together to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The work of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and its specialized Study Groups resonates with this vision. ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), for example, provides a unique global platform to discuss the capabilities of new radio technologies that will form the backbone of tomorrow’s digital economy, transforming lives and leading industry and society into the automated, intelligent future.

Over the last decade, wireless communication systems have seen extraordinary growth, from mobile phones and radio-based fleet management to broadcasting systems, cognitive radio, and spectrum monitoring.

Radio has also become increasingly vital for a growing number of essential public services, such as satellite navigation, intelligent transport systems, global positioning systems, environmental monitoring, emergency radiocommunication systems and even deep-space research.

How radiocommunication standards are formed

At the heart of this digital revolution is ITU-R – with a mandate from ITU’s Membership to determine the technical characteristics and operational procedures for a wide range of wireless services and radiocommunication systems.

Technical standards are presented as ITU-R Recommendations for radio-frequency spectrum management.

First, the underlying standards are developed by six Study Groups, comprising experts from government, industry, academia and regional and international organizations. The same technical experts also collaborate with other international radiocommunication and standards organizations to establish the characteristics of the systems and services that will define tomorrow’s digital landscape.

While compliance with ITU-R Recommendations is not mandatory, they enjoy a solid reputation and are implemented worldwide. Particular attention is paid to the radiocommunication needs of developing countries.

ITU-R Study Group work attracts more than 5,000 specialists – representing ITU Member States, the telecommunications industry, academic organizations and other institutions – to study topics such as efficient spectrum and satellite orbit use, radio systems performance, spectrum monitoring and emergency radiocommunications for disaster relief.

Celebrating collaboration

One recent recommendation worth highlighting is ITU-R M.2150: Detailed specifications of the radio interfaces of IMT-2020. This recommendation spans three key radio interface technologies that will enable the full-scale commercialization of fifth-generation mobile communication networks, or 5G.

Plans are underway to extend these standards for use in the satellite component of international mobile technologies (IMT).

As the global community scales up efforts in this Decade of Action to fulfil the United Nations 2030 Agenda, I wish to reaffirm the commitment of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector to facilitate the development of new technologies and promote access to affordable and universal next-generation broadband and satellite services. We must keep up our resolve, continue our work, and help extend the benefits of technological advancement to all the world’s citizens.

We also pay tribute to the collaborative efforts of thousands of experts worldwide, whose contributions are essential to develop the voluntary technical agreements that in due course come to be published as international standards.

Read the latest output from ITU-R Study Groups.
See the ITU-R Study Group brochure.
Learn more about all ITU Study Groups.

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Why we need technical standards to manage radio-frequency spectrum efficiently

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