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?
François Rancy: I devoted the early part of my
career to the design of satellite systems and
their frequency coordination, working at France Télécom’s
research centre in teams that were at the forefront
of digital technology development. Since 1992,
as the official in charge of the Frequency Office,
and subsequently Director of International Affairs in
France’s National Frequency Agency (ANFR), I participated
in ITU world radiocommunication conferences.
This enabled me to make a very active contribution
within ITU–R, both on technical issues and on
regulatory and procedural aspects. During this time,
I was fortunate enough to be able to count on the
support of teams of highly talented engineers and
As Director-General of ANFR since 2004, I am
responsible for frequency management in France.
In 2007, I chaired the World Radiocommunication
Conference, where key decisions were taken for the
future, in particular concerning the mobile service.
Last but not least, I have always been eager to
share the knowledge acquired in my work, through
teaching, consultancy and international cooperation.
My personal commitment and involvement with a
large number of countries testifies to my understanding
of administrations’ and Sector Members’ expectations
My experience in radiocommunications and spectrum
management has thus given me a firm grasp of
all the technical, regulatory and management aspects
pertaining to the work of the Director of the Radiocommunication
Bureau (BR). Helping the countries
of the world to work together in order to reap the
greatest possible benefit from radiocommunications
has been a permanent objective during the 30 years
of my professional life. I hope to pursue that objective
as Director of BR.
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?
François Rancy: The major development in radiocommunications
is the boom in mobile
communications. As a result of this boom, the mobile
service requires access to ever-increasing amounts of
spectrum. This obliges ITU both to find new frequency
bands for the mobile service and to incorporate
innovative solutions, such as cognitive radios, to ensure
sharing with the other services. The spread of
mobile also means that the issue of public exposure
to electromagnetic fields is now coming to the fore in
all countries, calling for suitable responses.
Globalization of markets allows for considerable
economies of scale, which are central to the incredible
development of mobile communications. In this
context, ITU’s prime role is to foster harmonization
of frequencies worldwide, in order to ensure that all
countries benefit from it.
Furthermore, the transition to digital television
and the analogue switch-off constitute a technical
and social challenge, made all the more complex on
account of the decisions to be taken on the digital
dividend with a view to reducing the digital divide.
Finally, in the field of space communications, on
which broadcasting and communications between
many countries rely so heavily, ITU must ensure that
the orbit/spectrum resource is managed as efficiently
as possible. Suitable procedures are required to provide
access to the orbit for all countries that need it,
in particular those most highly dependent in terms of
In the face of all these challenges, ITU has a crucial
role to play. The more ITU promotes exchanges
between its members, the more effective it will be in
fulfilling this role. During the many discussions I have
had in recent months, and in particular at the last
World Telecommunication Development Conference,
I was struck by how keen administrations are to share
experience on all these subjects, in which the technical
component is not always the most important.
My R&D and teaching experience has taught me
the importance of sharing knowledge. ITU can do a
lot more in this area, as a catalyst for such exchanges,
without necessarily incurring additional expense
for the Union.
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?
François Rancy: It is by publicizing more effectively
the practical solutions it brings to the
table for meeting the challenges of radiocommunications
that ITU–R will be able to attract new Sector
Members. The Union must promote greater awareness
of the results of its activities, by making them
more accessible and publicizing them at the seminars
it organizes or to which it contributes.
In this vein, ITU–R has already succeeded in attracting
industry in the cellular mobile communications
sector by providing the framework and the
necessary dynamics for achieving the required harmonization.
It can attract other branches of industry
that also have a need for global harmonization.
Nowadays, even small and medium-sized enterprises
reason in terms of global markets. ITU can position
itself as a vector for development of these enterprises,
through revamped and simplified access and
In 2012, ITU will hold a World
(WRC-12). What are the key issues to
be discussed, and what challenges and
opportunities are they likely to present for ITU?
François Rancy: WRC-12 must be able to respond
to all requirements, in particular those
expressed by civil aviation, maritime navigation and
the science services.
The digital dividend is an item to which I am
particularly sensitive, having personally been closely
involved in the topic during my chairmanship of
WRC-07 and in my duties at the national and European
levels. It illustrates the recurrent need over
the past two decades to identify the new resources
necessary for developing mobile services. It also illustrates
ITU’s key role in this area, where international
harmonization is absolutely essential, but always a
very lengthy and difficult process.
WRC-12 will also continue a global assessment
of the international regulatory framework for radiocommunications.
The work on this subject reflects
both the importance and solidity of the existing
framework, and the increasingly pressing demand
for the Radio Regulations to be sufficiently flexible
and for avoiding or dispensing with any superfluous
Finally, I believe that WRC-12 will once again
demonstrate the vital role of the ITU in the development
of space services. The current efforts being undertaken
by BR to ensure strict compliance with procedures
and the integrity of the Master International
Frequency Register pave the way for the conference
to adopt new provisions that will facilitate access to
the orbit/spectrum resources for all countries.
What will be your main priorities in the
next four years?
François Rancy: ITU will face many
challenges in the coming years. Administrations
will have to take difficult decisions, particularly
where the digital dividend and deployment
of digital television broadcasting are concerned. In
view of its competence in such areas, BR must contribute
to the assistance that administrations will expect
The development of mobile networks must also
be nurtured, firstly by continuing to allocate the necessary
spectrum to the mobile service, and secondly
by providing a framework for global harmonization,
whether through frequency plans and technical conditions
governing usage or through recommendations
on harmonized technologies.
For the space services, it will be necessary both to
pursue the efforts undertaken by the Bureau to clean
up the Master International Frequency Register, and
to facilitate access to the orbit/spectrum resources
for all countries which so wish.
ITU’s “federal” structure — made
up of the General Secretariat, the
Radiocommunication Sector, the
Sector and the Telecommunication Development
Sector — requires collaboration and team
spirit. What do you view as the fundamental
components of successful teamwork?
François Rancy: Each of the ITU Sectors has its
own raison d’être. For the Radiocommunication
Sector, it is the importance of global regulation
to ensure equitable access to the spectrum and orbit
resources, and the importance of global harmonization
of the spectrum for economies of scale and
The three Sectors operate within a single organization,
thereby enabling efficient operation, cooperation,
exchanges and synergy, facilitated by the
General Secretariat, which smoothly underpins this
cooperation and unity. This obviously means that the
five officials elected by the Plenipotentiary Conference
must work in a spirit of teamwork, collaboration
and mutual trust, sharing the same vision.
This model reflects the application of an overarching
principle in ITU, namely consensus, respect
and accommodation of all viewpoints in reaching
decisions. I know very well and hold in high esteem
both the current incumbents of these posts and the
other candidates. I have no doubt whatsoever as to
our capacity to work together, respecting all ITU’s
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?
François Rancy: One of ITU’s major assets is being
able to count on a staff with a very high
level of competence and expertise. I have no doubt
about their capacity to meet the challenges that
await the Union in the coming years.
The main challenge relates to the constraints that
weigh on the Union’s budget. To address this, continuous
attention must be given to the best way of
performing the activities entrusted to BR, in pursuit
of the objectives set by the Plenipotentiary Conference.
Recent quality management approaches can
underpin this approach, together with constant consultation
involving all staff concerned. I have successfully
implemented these approaches in recent years
in the Agency under my responsibility.
It is by working together that we will build the
future of radiocommunications.
François Rancy is an engineer,
a graduate of the École Polytechnique (1977) and the
École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (Paris, 1979).
From 1979 to 1997, he
worked as systems engineer
and subsequently Head of
Department in France Télécom’s
research laboratories, where
he was in charge of studies
on national and international
satellite systems and activities
relating to the spectrum and the
regulation of satellite systems.
As from 1992, his responsibilities
expanded to cover the entire
From 1997 to 2004, he was
Director of Spectrum Planning
and International Affairs at the
National Frequency Agency
(ANFR). Since 2004, he has
been Director-General of ANFR,
responsible for frequency
management in France.
At the international level, he led
the coordination of European
delegations (CEPT) at WRC-03
and chaired the European Union
group on spectrum management
policy (RSPG) in 2007. He chaired
the ITU–R Special Committee
on Regulatory and Procedural
Matters from 1997 to 2003, and
the World Radiocommunication
Conference in 2007.
François Rancy has been awarded
the ITU Silver Medal (2007)
and the titles of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (1998) and
Ordre national du mérite (1992).