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Elections at PP-10: Meet the candidates
Interview with Fabio Leite (Brazil)
Candidate for the post of Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau
Fabio Leite

Question 1

A fundamental mission of ITU is to manage the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. How has your experience prepared you for this mission in the years ahead, and what are your expectations?

Fabio Leite: One key advantage is that my experience is twofold: both working in radiocommunications at country level for Brazil; and later working on global issues in roles of increasing seniority within ITU.

While in Brazil, I worked for many years both as an ICT operator (Sector Member of ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector or ITU–R) and for the administration, before becoming an ITU staff member. In addition to being a delegate representing Brazil in several ITU meetings and conferences, I was responsible for the application of the Radio Regulations with respect to the Brazilian satellite networks, preparing the filings for submission to ITU and participating in coordination meetings with other countries and international organizations. In addition, I was elected Vice-Chairman of ITU–R Study Group 4 and chaired the corresponding national preparatory group.

Moving to Geneva in 1987, my ITU career progressed within the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR), occupying the posts of engineer, project manager, conference plenary secretary and counsellor, before undertaking the highest management responsibilities for a staff member, as Chief of the BR Informatics, Administration and Publications Department, to become the Deputy to the Director. As Deputy-Director of BR for more than five years now, I am a member of the senior management of ITU, participating in the Union’s Management and Coordination Committee and other high-level groups.

In view of the increasing importance of radiocommunications and the membership’s demand for efficient use and equitable access to the limited spectrum and orbit resources, respecting the differing needs of mature and emerging economies, I feel that the Director of BR needs to have a deep understanding of the needs of different countries and an impartial approach to ensure fair treatment to all parties.

Question 2

What trends and issues are emerging today that you feel will have an impact on radiocommunications? And how should ITU respond in order to remain relevant as the crucial place in which critical spectrum matters are decided?

Fabio Leite: Radiocommunications have been at the centre of an ICT revolution where rapid technological changes, explosive demand, emerging applications, service convergence and new deployment paradigms are having a direct impact on the international regulatory framework established by the ITU Radio Regulations. The studies being carried out within the framework of Resolution 951 (Rev. WRC-07) aim at identifying means to enhance the regulatory framework in the light of these challenges. The membership is expected to adopt new methods to address these challenges at the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2012 (WRC-12).

The WRC process for updating the Radio Regulations has moved towards shorter conferences with more complex agendas, yet has continued to respond effectively and in a timely manner to the needs of the ITU membership, for example in regard to the spectrum and regulatory requirements for the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT 2000), ITU’s third generation (or 3G) mobile communications project and wireless broadband, WiFi or radio local area networks (RLAN), high altitude platform stations (HAPS), mobile satellite systems (or GMPCS), and many other commercial, scientific and safety services. In addition, several planning conferences have provided the appropriate spectrum allocations for some specialized services and applications. The Regional Radiocommunication Conference in 2006 established the GE-06 Agreement, which provides an institutional framework for the introduction of the digital broadcasting service.

For conferences to respond to the needs of the ITU membership, there has to be a high level of awareness of the topics being discussed. Such awareness results from effective preparatory activities, based on formal and informal collaboration between Member States and Sector Members, in particular in ITU–R study groups and regional groups.

One of the biggest regulatory challenges relates to access to the orbit and spectrum resources. This is crucial for satellite businesses and projects, including those of developing countries. In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for administrations to obtain suitable new geostationary orbital positions and frequencies in both the planned and non-planned satellite services, and to fully coordinate them applying the relevant provisions of the Radio Regulations. The prosperity of the satellite business could be threatened by misuse of the regulatory regime, blocking the operation of real satellite networks. In order to continue recording frequency assignments in the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR) and to ensure that the frequencies and orbital positions associated with those assignments are compatible and do not result in interference, all members of ITU need to look for ways to improve the procedures governing access to the orbit and spectrum, to accommodate the latest technologies and to meet the legitimate demands of current, emerging and future systems.

ITU–R successfully campaigned for worldwide adoption of the 3G mobile standards based on the IMT 2000 platform. Now ITU–R faces the task of completing the selection of next-generation radio interface specifications for IMT-Advanced (or 4G) systems. Other important areas of work include reaching agreement on ITU–R Recommendations related to emerging broadcasting technologies (such as three-dimensional television or 3D TV), satellite systems (for example, radio-navigation), and radio science applications.

The growing market for ICT applications and services in developing countries heightens the urgency to bridge the standardization gap. BR needs to work in a coordinated way with TSB and BDT to develop strategies and implement actions to strengthen national standards capacity in developing countries. I would also review the objectives and approaches for BR participation in standards-development organizations, in particular the Global Standards Collaboration and the World Standards Cooperation, of which ITU is a partner.

Question 3

The ICT world is changing rapidly. To increase ITU’s Sector membership will be key in broadening and strengthening the Union so that it continues to meet the needs of a burgeoning ICT market. In what ways can ITU’s membership system be enhanced to attract and welcome new members from all branches of ICT — from traditional players to new market entrants — while retaining existing members across its three Sectors?

Fabio Leite: In the rapidly evolving ICT industry, ITU enjoys a unique asset: the private sector and governmental and nongovernmental organizations can participate in the Union’s activities together with Member States. From my own experience, I would say that the synergies from this close interaction are a very positive factor in ITU’s radio regulatory and standards-development activities. The decision-making process is led by Member States, and benefits from the pragmatic vision of Sector Members in regard to the technical and operational aspects of activities.

In my opinion, the best way of attracting new Radiocommunication Sector Members is to make known the benefits of this profitable synergy. It is also necessary to spread the “ITU culture” within the academic community. The students and researchers of today will become the managers and decision-makers of the future, and they should be aware of the role of ITU and the benefits of being part of its membership. Finally, the ICT private sector of developing countries should be encouraged to participate more actively in ITU, in order to enjoy the advantages resulting from the synergies derived from cooperative work within an inter-governmental organization.

Question 4

In 2012, ITU will hold a World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12). What are the key issues to be discussed, and what challenges and opportunities are they likely to present for ITU?

Fabio Leite: WRC-12 will deal with a wide range of radio services, as well as technical and regulatory issues. To highlight some items for illustrative purposes, I would expect discussion on the following topics: safety aspects involving the use of VHF, UHF, L and C-band spectrum; the growing demand for spectrum and regulations for unmanned aircraft systems; global requirements for the application of radiocommunications to enhance ship and port safety and security; the accommodation of advanced digital technology without disrupting safety aspects in the HF band; the use of radiocommunications in environmental control and the prevention of natural disasters; the definition of the regulatory procedures applicable to the band 21.4–22.0 GHz for broadcasting satellite use; spectrum harmonization for electronic news gathering; and the complex issue of the use of the 790–862 MHz band, including the digital dividend resulting from the GE-06 Plan.

Two items deserve special attention as they cover broad and complex regulatory issues: the review of the international regulatory framework in general, and the rules applicable to satellite networks in particular. There has long been concern that the existing regulatory procedures applicable to space services no longer ensure the equitable, efficient and rational use of the limited spectrum/orbit resources.

A positive result by WRC-12 will have a favourable impact on ITU’s image, raising confidence in the Union’s capacity to maintain its pre-eminence as the organization responsible for the global regulatory framework for the development and implementation of radiocommunication systems.

Question 5

What will be your main priorities in the next four years?

Fabio Leite: The highest priority in the Radiocommunication Bureau is undoubtedly to promote cooperation and coordination among the membership by providing global forums where ITU members can work together for mutual benefit.

The focus will of course be on WRC-12. The Director of BR will need to lead the secretariat in organizing and successfully running the Conference Preparatory Meeting to take place in the first quarter of 2011. Following that event, the year 2011 will be dominated by the preparatory work for WRC-12.

Other priorities include the meetings of the Radio Regulations Board, and the 2012 Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-12), which will establish the structure and work programme for ITU–R study groups in the new cycle.

Within BR, I would envisage strengthening assistance activities with a view to meeting the growing expectations of the membership for a deeper understanding and better access to ITU–R knowledge systems, including the Radio Regulations procedures, Recommendations and software applications. I would also streamline the Bureau’s processes and enhance its tools in order to obtain an improved, transparent, transportable and secure environment for BR’s information systems, including the administrative and technical examination software and databases. A particular challenge would be to improve the quality and timeliness of ITU–R publications, taking into account language requirements and special membership needs.

A permanent objective would be to encourage the participation of developing countries in ITU–R activities, as well as to foster technological and regulatory cooperation among members.

Question 6

ITU’s “federal” structure — made up of the General Secretariat, the Radiocommunication Sector, the Telecommunication Standardization Sector and the Telecommunication Development Sector — requires collaboration and team spirit. What do you view as the fundamental components of successful teamwork?

Fabio Leite: A good example at the top is the best recipe for teamwork in any organization. In ITU, this means that the elected officials and senior managers need to work in a concerted and harmonized manner, strengthening inter-Sector collaboration in a true spirit of cooperation. The Coordination Committee has a key role in leading and overseeing these practices.

Cross-Sector activities provide excellent opportunities for the Bureaux and the General Secretariat to team up to achieve common objectives, offsetting a natural tendency for isolation resulting from the federative structure.

The establishment of vision statements by the organization’s leadership, based on the missions defined by the membership, also serves as catalyst for teamwork. One example is the recently launched initiative based on the slogan “Build on Broadband”, which gives a cross-Sector message that implicitly invites each of the Bureaux to join in within its domain of competence.

Question 7

It is often said that good people are the backbone of any high-performing business activity or organization. What is your message to staff with whom you will work to implement the strategic plan and goals that will be approved by the Plenipotentiary Conference for the period 2012– 2015, within the budget that will also be decided by this conference for the same years?

Fabio Leite: Good staff are the trademark of the Radiocommunication Bureau. The complex administrative and technical tasks undertaken by BR require a high level of professionalism and skill. Solid regulatory, engineering and informatics backgrounds are needed for the implementation of the Radio Regulations procedures, the management of the MIFR database and other supporting tasks. The constantly evolving nature of ICT imposes a choice of staff in BR who are able to keep abreast of the latest developments in wireless technology and regulations.

To further improve the human resources of the Bureau by providing capacity building for its staff would be one of my priorities. My ultimate goal would be the establishment of a positive working environment, based on motivation and enthusiasm, to provide the best service to the membership.


Fabio Leite has extensive experience in the field of radiocommunications, having taken on varied responsibilities both in ITU and in his native Brazil, in government as well as in industry.

Before joining ITU, Mr Leite worked for EMBRATEL, the Brazilian long-distance telecommunication carrier, where he was responsible for the communications system engineering of the first Brazilian domestic satellite system, BRAZILSAT. His duties included application of the Radio Regulations with respect to Brazilian satellite networks, preparing the filings for submission to ITU, and participating in coordination meetings with other countries and international organizations. From 1980 to 1987, he participated in many ITU radiocommuncation conferences and meetings as the member of the Brazilian delegation responsible for technical and regulatory issues. He was elected Vice-Chairman of the ITU Radiocommunication Study Group responsible for satellite services in 1986.

Fabio is currently the Deputy-Director and Chief, Informatics, Administration and Publications Department of the Radiocommunication Bureau. Since joining ITU in 1987, he has worked as satellite communications engineer, counsellor for mobile radio services and for fixed wireless systems, and manager of International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT 2000), ITU’s third generation mobile communications project. He has also served as executive secretary in several ITU world radiocommunication conferences. He has a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering with specialization in telecommunications.


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