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Turkish government and ITU sign agreement to host WRC 2000

Geneva, 16 December 1999 — From 8 May to 2 June 2000, Turkey will host the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC 2000), an event which will play a key role in determining what kinds of wireless systems will be available at the start of the next millennium.

An agreement between the ITU and the Turkish government was signed today at ITU Headquarters.

"Radiocommunications are currently a fast growing segment of the international telecommunications market, with an ever-expanding range of new applications. Scarcely a day passes without some major story being written about a new technology breakthrough or the latest developments on the competitive battlefield" ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi said at the signing ceremony. "Events like WRCs although often highly technical have enormous ramifications for the way radiocommunications systems develop in the future" he also said.

"It is the first time in its history that the ITU will hold a conference in our country" said Fatih Mehmet Yurdal, Director-General of Turk Telekomunikasyon. "We are particularly honoured that our offer to host WRC 2000 has been overwhelmingly accepted by ITU membership" he added. "Turkey is a land of many cultures, at the cross-road between Europe and Asia. Istanbul itself is built on two continents. We are delighted and proud to welcome representatives from nearly all nations of the world on our land and contribute to the successful outcome of this important event on which hangs the future of radiocommunication-based systems" Mr Yurdal concluded.

The four-week long conference, which is held every two to three years, is the forum where countries decide on the shared use of the frequency spectrum to allow the deployment or growth of all types of radiocommunication services, from television and radio broadcasting to mobile telephony, maritime and aeronautical navigation and safety systems, and science services.

Until the close of the conference on Friday 2 June, the meeting rooms of the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICEC) will be the home of close to 2 000 participants representing both government and private interests.

Delegations led by senior government officials and including executives from the corporate world will negotiate on how to make use of the radio-frequency spectrum – a finite resource – equitably and to improve ‘spectrum efficiency’ of radiocommunications services – that is, the ability to deliver the same service using less spectrum or to share spectrum with other services without causing harmful interference.

One of the most important tasks of each World Radiocommunication Conference is to examine and decide on proposals for new or revised frequency allocations required for the introduction of new services or expansion of existing ones. As the usable portion of the frequency spectrum becomes ever-more heavily subscribed, and as more and more new services clamour for the allocations needed to make their systems operational, the stakes at each conference are getting higher and higher.

The WRC-2000 agenda includes many difficult and important items. The Conference will consider possible frequency allocations and necessary regulatory modifications which will facilitate the use of frequency bands up to 275 GHz by practically all radiocommunication services. Among them will be:

  • Consideration of additional global spectrum identified for IMT-2000 which is foreseen for initial commercial deployment in 2001
  • Review the power limits for the sharing of bands currently allocated exclusively for aeronautical and maritime navigation systems, with the Mobile Satellite Service such as LEOs. These bands are currently used by Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS and GLONASS. This issue caused considerable debate over the suitability of these bands for the MSS in 1997 and discussions on the possible sharing of the band was postponed until WRC 2000 to allow for technical studies to be carried out.
  • The protection of radioastronomy services which are not easily able to share with other services and which are prone to interference with mobile services (terrestrial and satellites). With the explosion in the use of mobile services, the problem of interference with radioastronomy has triggered concerns among radioastronomers. They are now seeking a "quiet zone" where they could have their antennas and telescopes and where any other radio transmissions would be banned1. That would however not solve the problem of possible interference from non-geostationary satellites. Moreover, to study the expansion of the Universe, astronomers claim to need to use the entire frequency spectrum at specific times and places and not the part of the spectrum they have been allocated.
  • The review of the power limits which were provisionally agreed in 1997 for the sharing conditions in the band 10-18 GHz between the non-geostationary satellites and existing geostationary satellite and terrestrial networks including television broadcasting. The sharing conditions were particularly important for ‘broadband’ global satellite systems which have the potential to deliver Internet and multimedia applications to homes and businesses anywhere in the world. This was one of the most controversial issues of the 1997 conference. While CPM 99 brought parties close together on those limits, it is up to WRC 2000 to decide on the basis of proposals by countries and negotiations to take place in Istanbul.
  • To determine a technical basis for re-planning the broadcasting satellite service which delivers direct-to-home television services. These technical bases are to provide each country an amount of spectrum that permits the development of an enhanced broadcasting satellite system. The issue of capacity for future additional requirements such as sub-regional systems is also to be taken up. This was also a difficult topic at WRC 97 as well as the issue of defining the conditions under which countries could broadcast outside their national territory.
  • To decide on sharing criteria between stations in the High Density Fixed Service (HDFS) and stations in other services to which the frequency bands above 30GHz are allocated. High-density applications in the fixed service applications are being used increasingly to provide significant number of point-to-point (P-P) and/or point-to-multipoint (P-MP) services in the bands above 30 GHz. These new types of services are starting to be used by service industries to optimize their business operations. For example, with HDFS, multiple links to commercial offices such as banks in city business districts can replace a "spaghetti" of hard wires to provide the links. With HDFS, the links are wireless. Further, for applications previously not done through central polling, (for example water or gas meters that are currently read one by one by people sent to the premises where they are located), HFDS will make it possible to automate the tasks. Availability of small, light-weight components and a high degree of frequency re-use are key factors in enabling the deployment of a large population of fixed service systems.
  • To identify the extent to which sharing of the bands designated for High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) in the fixed service is feasible with systems in the other services using the same bands. A new telecommunication concept using High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) for providing fixed service operations such as SkyStation was officially recognized by WRC 97 which made provisions for operation in the 47.2-47.5 GHz and 47.9-48.2 GHz bands.

In the period since WRC 97 and WRC 2000, expert groups, known as Radiocommunication Study Groups, have carried out the groundwork to prepare each issue for consideration by the Conference. A Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM) also met to consolidate the results of technical studies put forward by these experts and to agree on the possible regulatory options open to delegates at WRC. The CPM concluded its work on 26 November 1999 with a 2.5 cm thick report which represents the best information on technical, operational and regulatory/procedural issues relevant to the topics of the WRC 2000 agenda to provide a basis for discussions.

Despite a very good working atmosphere in the preparation of the technical basis for WRC 2000 carried by CPM, the competing interests and approaches to make use of spectrum for systems deployment and growth as well as the billions of dollars riding on the decisions made at WRCs are likely to give rise to tough negotiations in Istanbul.


Note 1
The OECD Megascience Forum held a meeting of Science Ministers last year to discuss this proposal

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