The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of
the United Arab Emirates organized the Middle East
Spectrum Conference in Dubai on 29–30 March 2011.
Now in its second year, the event brought together
110 delegates from 27 countries, including international
spectrum management experts, government officials,
and representatives of regulators and telecommunication
operators, as well as private entities from across
The opening ceremony was addressed by ITU
Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, among others.
“This conference comes at a particularly opportune
time, with spectrum issues now being a top priority for
all of us. As Secretary-General of ITU, where spectrum
issues are discussed, debated and managed on a global
basis, I wholeheartedly applaud such conferences and
forums,” Dr Touré said.
Radio-frequency spectrum supports all wireless
communication services, including broadcasting, mobile
radio, microwave, satellite and public safety services.
The uses of radio spectrum are ever increasing, with
the rise of new technologies and applications. Finding
spectrum for the next generation of radio and wireless
services is thus one of the key challenges facing regulators
The conference considered ways of coping with ballooning
data usage and finding the right spectrum to
accommodate technological advances. Topics included:
New approaches to spectrum enforcement
The challenge of GSM refarming
Finding the spectrum for 4G networks
Tackling the mobile data capacity crunch
Reaping the digital dividend
Public sector spectrum in the 21st century
Cognitive radio: how close is the future?
“The Middle East Spectrum Conference focuses on
emerging trends and challenges in spectrum management,
while discussing innovative methods and solutions
for the efficient use of spectrum,” said Mohammad
Al Ghanim, Director General of the Telecommunications
Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates.
“We are already seeing many positive developments
in spectrum management, with spectrum refarming
and trading now becoming a reality. We are also seeing
growing recognition across the sector of the opportunities
coming from ’white spaces’ and the ’digital dividend’,
resulting from the move away from analogue to
digital broadcasting,” Dr Touré noted.
“The conference covers the most pertinent challenges
faced by the industry today with regard to radio-frequency
spectrum management”, said Tariq Al Awadhi,
Executive Director, Spectrum and International Affairs
at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the
United Arab Emirates.
No discussion of spectrum would be complete without
mention of the imminent conclusion of the ITU
process to establish the radio interface technologies for
the next generation of mobile communication systems,
which are known as IMT-Advanced.
Highlighting the latest developments, Dr Touré explained
that IMT-Advanced is the next big leap forward
in mobile technologies, and follows on from the definition
of IMT-2000 — better known in the industry as 3G.
“Enhanced services, which offer significant performance
improvements over the initial 3G deployments, are now
being rolled out in a number of countries. These new
services, which are being marketed as 4G, can be seen
as forerunners of IMT-Advanced,” Dr Touré stated.
ITU membership determined in 2010 that only
two technologies passed the selection process for
IMT-Advanced, and are qualified to be part of the
IMT-Advanced specifications: these are LTE-Advanced
and WirelessMAN-Advanced. The detailed specifications
of the IMT-Advanced technologies will be published in
a new ITU–R Recommendation expected in early 2012.
IMT-Advanced services are expected to be available in
some parts of the world before the end of 2012.
IMT-Advanced brings major improvements over
Increased spectrum efficiency — supporting more
users at higher data rates per radio channel;
Fully packet-based architecture — meaning reduced
costs, and comprehensive support for broadband
Improved radio resource management and control
— for enhanced quality of service;
New capabilities for the physical layer of the radio
interface — including wideband radio channels,
MIMO [multiple input multiple output] smart antennas
and flexible deployment options.
“This is all very technical, and can make what is a
vital and fascinating subject seem rather dull, but what
we are doing here in Dubai, and what ITU is doing in
Geneva, is nothing short of shaping the future itself,” Dr
Along with panel discussions and addresses by keynote
speakers, the Middle East Spectrum Conference
also saw side-events offering training on spectrum policy,
spotting and resolving legal issues in spectrum management,
spectrum pricing and spectrum auctioning.