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WARC-79: Thirty years and still significant
photo credit: ITU/V. Martin
Valery Timofeev,
Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau

Thirty years ago, 147 delegations from the ITU Member States met in Geneva and deliberated for ten weeks (from 24 September to 6 December 1979) under the chairmanship of Roberto Severini of Argentina. It was the World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC-79), an inter-governmental meeting whose decisions have the force of an international treaty and which still enjoys a decisive influence on the development of all types of radiocommunications and broadcasting. (WARC later became the World Radiocommunication Conference.)

WARC-79 was the first time in twenty years that ITU’s Radio Regulations were examined and completely modified to meet new challenges of rapidly changing technology and to provide better sharing of spectrum and orbit resources among developed and developing countries.

The main results of WARC-79 may be briefly formulated as follows: starting with the full structural rearrangement of the Radio Regulations, the conference substantially modified the table of frequency allocations and the associated procedures designed to facilitate the application of these modifications. It also worked out new approaches to facilitate access to spectrum by developing countries, and decided to convene conferences for planning Space services and shortwave broadcasting services. In parallel, the conference agreed on the expansion of the shortwave spectrum allocated for broadcasting and adopted major changes in the frequency allocations for Space services.

The ITU Radio Regulations reviewed by WARC-79 came into force on 1 January 1982, and some agreements are still applicable to this day. They include agreements that regulate the world’s radio spectrum and the satellite industry, as well as those that set the standards for improving operation through cooperation. Fundamentally, they are agreements that work hard to bridge the digital divide and that enable ITU to commit itself to connecting the world.

We all have good reason to celebrate this important anniversary for wireless communications.


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