Regulation | Satellite | Spectrum Management
October 30, 2019

WRC-19: Representing the Commonwealth of Independent States

By Albert Nalbandian, Chairman, Working Group on preparation for WRC‑19/RA‑19 Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC)

The limited nature of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum and satellite orbits (“spectrum/orbit”) resource and its economic value is a recognized fact today. This has resulted in increased competition for it.

Strict compliance with the provisions of the ITU Radio Regulations (RR) ensures equitable access to this resource by all countries of the world. Such compliance also ensures that all radiocommunication systems operate in either an interference-free environment, or with acceptable levels of interference.

Radio applications — depending on frequency availability

The success of any radio application heavily depends on the availability of frequencies and the relevant harmonized standards. The growing spectrum users’ requirements and advances in wireless digital technology dictate the need to update the RR.

According to the ITU Constitution and Convention, any changes to the RR are the prerogative of the ITU World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs), held every four years.

Two peculiarities of WRCs, including of course the upcoming WRC‑19, are that:

    • WRC agendas contain a large number of issues related to both spectrum and regulations for radio services/technologies;
    • WRC decisions directly concern a wide range of users of radio devices.

It was ITU Council Resolution 1380 (revised in 2017) that determined that the next WRC and the accompanying Radiocommunication Assembly would be held in 2019.

RCC preparation for a WRC

Participation of the RCC delegations in the ITU conferences since 1995 has shown that systematic preparation on a regional level has contributed significantly to the protection of national interests.

In the RCC, preparation for a WRC and RA is entrusted to the RCC Commission on regulation of the use of the radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.

The RCC Working Group on the WRC‑19/RA‑19 develop the draft RCC common proposals (CPs) for WRC‑19. After consideration and approval by the RCC Commission, they are sent to ITU within the prescribed deadline.

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in interest in the use of radiocommunications: both terrestrial (mobile, maritime, aeronautical radio systems) and space (based on geostationary (GSO) and non-geostationary (NGSO) satellite networks). A giant leap in radiocommunications has been the transition to digital technologies. This has made it possible to significantly increase the sensitivity and selectivity of systems, as well as reduce the size of the equipment with improved performance.

About the WRC‑19 agenda

For many decades, ITU has been actively dealing with unique global radiocommunication issues. Usually, such issues are included in a WRC agenda. Today, WRC‑19 has a full agenda, with many challenges ahead.

The ultimate aim is to reach consensus on all the agenda items at WRC‑19, and to provide broad‑ band access to information for everyone, anywhere, at any time.

Among them are issues including the future development of IMT (5G) networks and satellite systems with a large number (up to thousands) of low-orbit satellites in non-geostationary orbit.

Some challenging issues

Consideration of the development of future IMT (5G technology) networks is extremely important in terms of understanding the complexity of the challenges faced by the organizers of the various sectors of the digital economy. IMT-2020/5G technology is characterized by high speed and low delay in signal transmission. In addition, a large number of devices can connect to such networks. In particular, new technologies will be especially in demand in the areas of the Internet of Things (IoT), unmanned transport and the digitalization of industry and agriculture.

Implementation of the satellite communication systems in non-geostationary orbits requires modification of the regulatory regime for the use
of the spectrum-orbit resource.

Regardless of WRC‑19 decisions on these issues, development of such systems will continue. However, it is necessary to pay special attention to the possible negative impact of sharply increasing electromagnetic radiation on the environment.

In my opinion, the lack of competent personnel, rather than the availability of capital, will be a deterrent to the innovation and growth of the digital economy.

The importance of regional cooperation

Coordination and cooperation with other regional organizations is a way to improve the effectiveness of the preparation of the Member States for ITU conferences. Regional preparatory work between conferences can help in building consensus on the many agenda items at a WRC.

The key to WRC success is good preparation through regional cooperation, coordination among the regions, and compromise at the conference.

Since 2009, the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau has organized a series of workshops on the most important issues and stages of WRC preparation, to help the ITU membership prepare adequately for the conference, and in particular, to respond to the requests of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–R) Sector Members so that they are informed on the progress in the preparations.

The six recognized regional organizations (APT, ASMG, ATU, CEPT, CITEL and RCC) were well represented in these meetings for WRC‑19.

Participants were not only informed on the progress made in implementing the decisions of the first session of the Conference Preparatory Meetings (CPM‑1 and CPM‑2), but also exchanged views on:

  • the possible methods to satisfy the WRC agenda items on the basis of results of the studies carried out by the competent ITU–R groups included in the CPM Report to WRC;
  • the report of the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau;
  • the Radio Regulations Board report on Resolution 80 (Rev. WRC‑07).

These workshops provide another opportunity for ITU–R members to discuss conference issues before its opening.

Representatives of the AC RCC are also involved in the interregional preparatory work, in particular in the Informal Group on the preparation of coordinated proposals on the draft structure of the conference, including the Steering Committee.

Common proposals developed by each of the six regional groups are being submitted to the conference, and will greatly facilitate consensus building on the various issues to be discussed to satisfy agenda items.

If ITU Member States agree on one method to satisfy an agenda item or issue, it may be proposed that such item or issue be considered at the first plenary meeting of WRC‑19 and be referred directly to the Editorial Committee for further processing.

The key to the success of WRC‑19

Experience with WRCs has shown that regional preparatory work between conferences can help in building consensus on some agenda items.

The key to WRC success is good preparation through regional cooperation, coordination among the regions, and compromise at the conference.

The ultimate aim is to reach consensus on all the agenda items at WRC‑19, and to provide broad‑ band access to information for everyone, anywhere, at any time.

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WRC-19: Representing the Commonwealth of Independent States

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