Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like, first of all, to thank my friends from Futron,
especially Andrea Maleter and Peggy Slye for inviting me at this
important event. I would like also to recognize the presence of
Ambassador David Cross of the State Department who has been
representing the US at ITU Council for so many years.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a privilege to have been invited here to
address you here at this prestigious event today. I am
especially pleased to have been invited to discuss the promise of an
industry dear to my heart, which I sought to serve since my early
studies at university, in my administration in Mali in 1979 before
joining INTELSAT in 1985, until my election to office at the ITU.
Last October, the space industry marked a milestone, in the fiftieth
anniversary of the launch of the first artificial satellite
(Sputnik) on 4 October 1957. Since then, over 6,600 space objects
have been launched, with some nine hundred space satellites operated
by more than forty countries now in orbit around the Earth.
The UN has played a leading role in establishing clear principles to
ensure that outer space and space activities continue to enhance the
well-being of all countries and humankind. The UN (of which ITU is
part) has brokered international treaties providing for the
non-appropriation of outer space by any one country, freedom of
exploration, liability for damage caused by space objects, space
safety and rescue, notification and registration of space
activities, dispute settlement and the scientific investigation and
exploitation of natural resources in outer space.
As the UN specialized agency and focal point for telecommunications,
ITU seeks “to ensure rational, equitable, efficient and economical
use of the radio-frequency spectrum by all radiocommunication
services – including those using the geostationary satellite orbit
or other satellite orbits”.
Within this mandate, ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector manages
international radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. ITU is
the international forum where the rights and obligations of Member
administrations in obtaining access to the spectrum/orbit resources
are agreed. ITU also carries out vital work recording frequency
assignments and orbital positions in the Master International
Frequency Register and processing satellite filings to ensure that
orbital positions and frequencies are compatible and
Let me here address a few Key Outcomes of WRC 2007 relevant for the
The management of radio-frequency spectrum for space activities is
agreed and endorsed by the World Radiocommunication Conference
(WRC). The most recent WRC-07 held in Geneva in October last year
was attended by over 2,800 delegates, representing 161 Member States
and 94 Observers. It resulted in the adoption of revised Radio
Regulations to meet the growing demand for radio-frequency spectrum
and achieve the connectivity goals of the 21st century.
I was very pleased last night at the diner to see my friend Richard
Russell being honoured by the Satellite Industry. Richard had the US
delegation at this very important conference. He has played a key
role in the success of WRC-07. As you know, WRC-07 brought so many
changes to the spectrum allocation.
WRC-07 focused on the impact of the latest technological
developments in satellite services, mobile communications, digital
broadcasting and spectrum/orbit resources for satellite applications
(including voice, data, digital and high definition TV, Internet
This key conference extended the existing frequency allocations for
Earth-Exploration Satellite Service (EESS) in the exploration of
Earth’s resources. EESS provides key services for planetary
monitoring, as well as the monitoring and forecasting of natural
disasters, weather and climate change.
It also approved proposals concerning the use and further
development of satellite systems using highly-inclined orbits and
high-altitude platforms, as well as compatibility between different
space and terrestrial services sharing the same frequency bands.
WRC-07 revised the technical and regulatory provisions of the
Worldwide Plan for Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) in the 800 MHz
bandwidth to facilitate access to this spectrum.
WRC-07 was notable for its discussions and agreements on globally
harmonized spectrum for use by International Mobile
Telecommunications (IMT). Of special interest for satellite industry
was the famous C-band where the "No Change" campaign by satellite
industry's collective efforts have ensured continuing access for
satellite to this band.
With regards to space applications, there is a growing demand for
the use of spectrum and there is the risk that under-used bands by
certain services may be under scrutiny and could be reassigned to
new services and applications. Of course, such decisions are made
within the relevant ITU forums through our normal procedure of
arriving at a consensus among all interested parties, but here I
must emphasize the risk of “use it or loose it” on the spectrum
allocation to the Industry.
ITU continues to work closely with its Member States, Sector Members
and Associate Members to ensure that the needs of the space industry
are reflected in the allocation of radio-frequency. This is governed
through Study Groups, Radio Assemblies and World Radio Conferences.
The role of satellite communications for Emergency
Satellite communications also play a key role in emergency
telecommunications and relief efforts in response to natural
disasters, which is a top priority for ITU. Space-based
communication systems remain intact during Earth-bound natural
disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis. We all
remember the dramatic real-time images of 2004 tsunamis fanning out
through oceans around the globe – images taken from space.
Wherever disasters strike, they leave a legacy of broken lives and
destruction, especially for developing countries and small island
states that often lack the resources to deal with disasters.
However, as Hurricane Katerina proved, no country is immune.
Satellite communication systems play a key role in the prevention of
natural disasters through remote sensing and early warning systems.
Remote sensing systems are useful for disaster planning, and to
support relief efforts.
Satellite systems also play a key role in saving lives – for
example, in its 25th year of operation, the international Search and
Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System (COSPAS-SARSAT) has been
credited with more than 22,000 rescue operations worldwide,
including over 5,700 in the United States and its surrounding
waters, including more than 350 people in the US last year alone.
WRC-07 called for the development of spectrum management guidelines
for emergency and disaster relief and identified the frequencies
available for use in humanitarian assistance. ITU-R is currently
studying which frequency bands would be suitable for public
protection and disaster relief (under the Tampere Convention). ITU
will develop a database of frequencies available for use in
emergency situations to assist Member States with their plans for
- WRC-07 also
reviewed the international regulations for maritime mobile service,
bringing them in line with current maritime communications
technology, including distress and safety transmissions within the
Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
- ITU-D is working
to forge partnerships with development partners, including local
communities, central government, the private sector, civil society
and other international organizations, to ensure vital access to
ICTs, especially by remote rural communities. It has developed an
ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE)
for the deployment of on-demand ICT applications and services,
anywhere, anytime, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
Role of satellite communications in bridging the digital divide
- Satellites also
have a key role to play in bridging the digital divide and meeting
the WSIS targets by achieving large-scale coverage of substantial
populations quickly. The role of satellites in achieving good
connectivity in remote and isolated areas is demonstrated by
services enabling sailors deep at sea to be in touch with their
- In October 2007,
in conjunction with other partners, ITU convened the Connect Africa
Summit, attended by over a thousand participants from fifty-four
countries (including forty-three African states). The focus in
Kigali was not on aid or charity - no country has achieved long-term
prosperity on this basis. Instead, the Summit sought to mobilize
investment and business resources are needed to support sustainable
growth, employment and development. This Summit established clear
development and connectivity goals agreed by the African community,
including broadband and satellite connectivity.
- The Connect Africa
Summit is the first to be launched in the Connect the World series.
Connect Africa will be followed by initiatives in all other regions
of the world (e.g., Connect America, Connect Asia, Connect Pacific
etc) so that for each region, we can focus global efforts to support
concrete projects aimed at addressing the connectivity challenges
for that region.
Future collaboration of ITU and the space industry
- To help bridge the
digital divide and bring improved connectivity to unconnected areas,
a genuine partnership is needed, where UN organizations, governments
and the private sector can work together to help achieve the goals
set by the international community.
communication systems have huge potential to offer, promising
high-capacity transmission capabilities over wide areas. I
would invite you to join ITU in connecting the unconnected by 2012
and to work together with us to ensure that the role and promise of
satellite communications are not neglected in telecommunication
investment plans for Africa and elsewhere around the globe.
- ITU will continue
to work together in close collaboration with the space industry.
ITU-R is carrying out various space-related studies in preparation
for WRC-11, including new frequency allocations for space research
and exploration, meteorological applications, oceanographic
monitoring and the future development of passive services between
275 and 3000 GHz.
- ITU-R’s studies
explore the long-term availability of spectrum for aeronautical
mobile by satellite, high-definition TV broadcasting by satellite,
and seeking to identify additional frequency allocations for
advanced broadband mobile technology by satellite. ITU-R will
continue to develop its Handbook for the spectrum monitoring of
- As the space
industry celebrates its coming of age with its first fifty
successful years, allow me to look forward to the next fifty years
of success – success that can only be built on continuing
collaboration between industry and government, with the ITU as the
forum where true partnership can be achieved.
We have only seven years left to meet the Millennium Development
Goals and the targets set by the World Summit on the Information
Society. We have seven years left to connect all villages,
hospitals, schools governments and ensure that the world’s
population have access to television and radio services. The world’s
population in regions such as the Pacific is spread over vast areas
of land and seas, with sparsely populated and very remote locations.
In many developing countries the majority of the population lives in
the rural and remote areas. The role of the space industry is
therefore very important in meeting our connectivity access targets
and to contribute to the well-being of the world’s population. We
need to form a global coalition to put together our resources and
efforts within a framework of international cooperation and
collaboration to bridge the digital divide and meet the MDG and WSIS
 Constitution of the ITU – CS196: “In using frequency bands for radio services, Members shall bear in mind that radio frequencies and any associated orbits, including the geostationary-satellite orbit, are limited natural resources and that they must be used rationally, efficiently and economically, in conformity with the provisions of the Radio Regulations, so that countries or groups of countries may have equitable access to those orbits and frequencies, taking into account the special needs of the developing countries and the geographical situation of particular countries”.