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?
Veena Rawat: My 35 years of experience in
managing spectrum, satellite orbits and research
and development, has given me a real-world
perspective on the evolution of information and
communication technologies (ICT) and its potential
to address many of the greatest challenges of the
Whether early in my career as an engineer with
the Government of Canada addressing day-to-day radio
interference issues, or later, as a senior executive
making major policy and regulatory decisions, I’ve
had the privilege of helping bring many new communication
services to Canadians.
||"We need to ensure that the management of spectrum and satellite orbits by ITU keeps up with the pace of technology development and the explosion of new applications."
the world stage requires
that the diverse objectives
of all stakeholders
and fair-minded approach
to global negotiations has demonstrated time
and again that common ground and solutions can be
found. This was most evident during my chairmanship
of the World Radiocommunication Conference
in 2003 (WRC-03), which opened the door for billions
of dollars of investment in new communication
Currently, as President of the Communications
Research Centre, I manage Canada’s largest public
sector ICT research and commercialization institution
(400 staff and an annual budget of 50 million
Canadian dollars). My experience with leading-edge
research has given me an insight into the future directions
of wireless technologies and services, as well
as the opportunities and challenges they provide. Addressing
such opportunities at the international level
requires adept management, sound planning and
greater collaboration with stakeholders. My proven
track record in this respect will help develop an international
regulatory framework that is responsive,
timely and effective.
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?
||"For ITU to remain the pre-eminent global organization for spectrum and orbit regulations, its key challenge is to address the demand for spectrum and the challenges of digital convergence."
Veena Rawat: The key trends are: increasing
demand for low cost, high data rate mobile
services (for example, mobile Internet, video and multimedia);
converged networks-based infrastructure;
rapidly evolving industry structures; relentless trend
towards e-everything; increased need for privacy and
security; and, managing environmental impacts.
The rapidly emerging mobile Internet economy
— and the supporting infrastructure it will require —
is a good example of the above trends. A key role
for ITU will lie in meeting the growing demand for
spectrum and orbital resources, and harmonizing
spectrum to the maximum extent possible through
regulations and standards. At the same time, these
rules must address
the needs of developing
in order to provide
the flexibility they
require to introduce
when they need
them and at a cost
that is manageable.
As digital convergence continues to broaden and
change ICT industry structures, ITU will need participation
of all old and new players in order to deliver
on their needs in a responsive and timely fashion.
Managing environmental impacts is another priority,
and here climate change poses a particularly serious
global challenge. ICT can be part of the solution
by adopting energy-efficient technologies and measures
to reduce their own carbon footprint. ITU can
help foster this by working closely with its members
to find innovative solutions to make the ICT industry
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?
Veena Rawat: Never before have so many industry
sectors embraced the potential of radiocommunications
to improve their productivity, competitiveness
and bottom line. For ITU, the migration
to a digital economy represents an unprecedented
opportunity to broaden its Sector membership.
Whether it is software companies, applications
developers or IP networking firms, ITU has the responsibility
to engage these new entrants by demonstrating
its relevance and potential impact on their
This includes reaching out to small and medium-size
enterprises in niche markets (for example, content
development, animation and mobile banking),
and communicating the importance of their participation
in ITU activities. ITU can also share information
that will help other sectors of the economy adopt ICT
to become more innovative and productive.
Overall, ITU must continue to investigate creative
approaches to make its membership affordable, and
ensure that the needs of all its stakeholders are met
in an effective and timely manner.
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?
Veena Rawat: The main priorities for WRC-12
will be to: find innovative ways to accommodate
increased demand for spectrum and orbital
resources; enable new technologies and services to
get to market quickly and cost-effectively; provide
flexibility for the use of spectrum for satellite services
while ensuring protection of investment in existing
infrastructure; and, change current regulations to address
the convergence of radio services.
Among the challenges ITU will face: building consensus
among the diverse stakeholders; ensuring the
WRC-12 deliberations take into account the budget
and resources consistent with ITU’s strategic and operational
plan; and, ensuring staff has a good understanding
of the issues and members’ expectations.
The opportunities will be far-reaching. Streamlined
regulations would provide an opportunity for
ITU to show its relevance and impact in advancing
the digital economy at the global level and help stimulate
investment in the ICT sector. They will also provide
opportunities for ITU–R to increase collaboration
with other ITU Sectors.
What will be your main priorities in the
next four years?
Veena Rawat: As Thomas Edison aptly
observed, “There is no substitute
for hard work.” That has been, and will continue to
be the hallmark of my career. My priorities during the
next four years will be:
Meeting stakeholders’ expectations: Understanding
the needs and expectations of our client community
is paramount. This requires striking a balance
between the requirements of a United Nations agency,
its Member States and the competition-driven
needs of private sector participants. This can be best
achieved by frequent consultation with all parties, including
face-to-face meetings with chief technology
officers (CTOs) and chief executive officers (CEOs).
Collaboration and partnership: The extensive
knowledge available in the ITU–R can be shared
with ITU–T to continue to develop coordinated programmes
and activities that address emerging areas
such as green ICT, network security, smart grids and
intelligent transportation services. ITU–R is also well
positioned to share its knowledge and best practices
with ITU–D to help developing countries build capacity
and implement new technologies and services. As
well, it will be essential to explore and expand partnerships
with organizations outside ITU membership.
Improving access to orbital resources: ITU can
continue to improve the satellite coordination process
and access to the orbit by:
improving the tools used for coordination;
continuing to work with administrations to improve the accuracy of data;
facilitating increased access to the orbit for Member States who are new entrants or those who have made limited use of the orbit to date;
continuing to improve efficiency in the use of orbit by encouraging implementation of ITU–R Recommendations.
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?
Veena Rawat: The fundamental components
of teamwork are establishing clear goals, principled
leadership and buy-in from team members.
Within ITU, this teamwork will be crucially dependant
on building relationships among the three Bureaux
heads and with the General Secretariat. Fostering this
cooperative spirit will require making time for each
other and having an agreed-upon framework for
both formal and informal discussions.
As lines of business and demarcation become
more blurred through the rapid pace of changes in
the marketplace, there will be a continuing need to
adjust how we collaborate. Trust and confidence will
be indispensable attributes to achieve our common
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?
Veena Rawat: My message to staff will relate to
the following for the success of ITU.
I am a firm believer in open and clear communications,
mutual respect and helping staff to understand
the value of teamwork and how their work contributes
to the success of ITU.
||"I want to ensure that the staff continues to have the required skills and motivation to meet stakeholder expectations and deliver on activities aligned with the strategic plan."
ITU’s success in managing spectrum and orbital
resources and stakeholders’ expectations over the
coming years will depend on a clear understanding
of the objectives and expected results of the strategic
plan, the goals and challenges of each ITU Sector,
and how these Sectors interact. This includes identifying
opportunities for constructive partnerships,
coordinated activities and collaboration among players
within and outside ITU. It will also require staying
abreast of the rapid and complex changes occurring
in technologies, networks, services and convergence.
I would listen to staff views and needs and will do
my part to help them to understand their respective
roles and responsibilities, and their accountability to
deliver on time and within budget.
Dr Veena Rawat is President of
the Communications Research
Centre, Canada’s largest
public sector ICT research and
(400 staff and an annual
budget of 50 million Canadian
dollars). She oversees Canada’s
participation in numerous
bilateral and multilateral
ICT research partnerships.
Dr Rawat immigrated to
Canada from India. She was the
first woman to graduate with
a PhD in electrical engineering
from Queen’s University,
Canada. During her 35 years of
work experience, she managed
major programmes in spectrum/telecommunication planning,
engineering and regulations
development for terrestrial and
space services. She has been at
the centre of major policy and
regulatory decisions to bring
new communication services
to domestic and international
levels, and in strengthening
linkages with national and
She has led many delegations
and negotiations at ITU–R and
other international forums. She
currently chairs the ITU study
group for satellite services.
In 2003, she chaired the
Conference (WRC-03) for
which she was awarded
an ITU Gold medal.
An internationally recognized
expert in spectrum
management and ICT
technologies, Dr Rawat has
been a keynote and invited
speaker at over 100 domestic
and international events
since 1995. She has received
many honours, including the
Canadian Woman of the Year
in Communications in 2004.