ITU Home Page International Telecommunication Union Français | Español 
Print Version 
ITU Home Page
Home : Newsroom : Press Releases
Press Release
International Telecommunication Union
For immediate release
Telephone: +41 22 730 6039
Fax: +41 22 730 5939

ITU gives final approval to IMT-2000 radio interface specifications

Istanbul, 8 May 2000 — Another milestone in the history of third-generation mobile systems has been reached with the formal adoption of the IMT-2000 radio interface specifications. The agreement came on the last day of the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly meeting in Istanbul from 1 to 5 May. The decision which was taken unanimously was hailed by all participants.

The approval of the technical specifications of IMT-2000 opens the way to a whole new world of multimedia mobile communications. With speeds nearly three times faster than today’s basic rate ISDN for fast-moving mobile terminals and even higher speeds for users who are stationary or moving at walking speed, IMT-2000 systems will definitely change the way we communicate, access information, work or even carry out social or personal activities.

"This decision is the result of over ten years of considerable intellectual and engineering efforts by an entire industry determined to leapfrog the fragmentation which prevailed until now in the wireless world" said Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the ITU. "ITU leadership, supported by an unprecedented level of cooperation not only from governments and the industry but also national and regional standards-setting organizations, led to this historic decision. I am particularly gratified to have been associated with the process" he said.

Mr Utsumi was echoed by John Gilsenan of the US Department of State. "The process used to develop the detailed specifications of the radio interfaces for IMT-2000 is an example of the strengths of the ITU consensus-based, open, transparent and sometimes painful but practical process. He went on saying that the approval of this standard moved the world into the new millenium of wireless communications and demonstrated that ITU could develop standards before the market requires them".

Mr G.O. Ajayi, Director at the Ministry of Science and Technology of Nigeria agrees. "It is a landmark and a unique and wonderful achievement and underscores the role of ITU in propelling the global community into this new knowledge-driven millennium where information and communication technology will be a driving force".

The promise that consumers all over the world should soon be able to access on a single handset a range of high bandwidth wireless services providing personal or business information is therefore nearing. Offering high speed Internet access and other forms of data transmission, users will be able to receive customized pre-defined news, look up bulletins containing real-time video or audio, access video and audio e-mail or set up videonconferences while on the move.

"This is a major milestone in the new millennium of wireless communications" added Stephen Blust, Director of Technology Strategy and Standards at BellSouth Cellular Corporation (US) and chairman of the ITU group of experts for IMT-2000. "It is only fitting that the ITU has diligently pursued a cooperative partnering arrangement for future wireless standards with key organizations around the world".

Mr Blust added that the span of services to be offered to the end user while facing the reality of a shortened time to market brought on by the pressures of "Internet time" only served to heighten the continued need for innovative ways to develop relevant global standards. "The solutions developed by the ITU meet this global perspective while preserving the uniqueness of the "local" marketplace" said Blust. "It has revolutionized the methods of global standards development of wireless systems which can serve as a model for many standards endeavours beyond just IMT-2000" he concluded.

Japan, the first country in the world expected to deploy IMT-2000 services sometime next year, underlined the pioneering work accomplished and stressed that this would undoubtedly change forever global standards-setting. "While the technical expertise rests with corporations and research institutions around the world, ITU’s role in developing a vision and leveling the playing field remains at the centre of successes such as the one we have now achieved with IMT-2000" Seiji Tanaka, deputy Vice-Minister for Technology Policy Coordination said.

For the world’s developing nations, which currently suffer a chronic shortage of phone lines, wireless systems may be a winning option because they are free of many of the onerous constraints that hold back teledensities in these countries. Wireless systems are relatively cheap to install, manage and maintain, quick to set up and provide access in geographically difficult regions. IMT-2000 has the capability of providing an effective alternative to wired local loops in urban areas and can provide a cost-effective solution to the "telecommunications gap" between developing and developed countries. It is particularly important to narrow this gap as we move into the 21st century where timely access to information will be essential for economic progress.

Mrs Cao Shumin from China’s Ministry of Information Industry expressed her country’s pride, as a developing country, to have been able to contribute to this landmark decision. "The successful outcome of the work on IMT-2000 will provide China and all countries around the world with a path to follow when moving to third generation systems", she said, encouraging all participants to continue their efforts in the ongoing IMT-2000 work.

Joining the other continents, Europe, through France National Frequency Agency’s Eric Fournier, said "This recommendation represents a major milestone in the history of ITU and a decisive step in the definition of IMT-2000 – the truly global cellular mobile systems that ensure convergence between the Internet and mobile worlds". "We are grateful", he continued "to the ITU for a job well done and in particular for their work in putting together the cooperative mechanisms with external organizations. We are convinced that efforts will continue to enable the future evolution of IMT-2000 in line with technological progress with a view to further fostering harmonization".

The next critical area that must be resolved is global spectrum availability, particularly in view of the expected demand for mobile multimedia services worldwide. Because it is preferable from an operational and performance viewpoint to target frequency bands that be contiguous to those already identified for IMT-2000, and since these bands are heavily used by a wide range of satellite and terrestrial services, spectrum experts at the World Radiocommunication Conference which opened today, will have to use all their talents and spirit of cooperation to come to grips with finding further spectrum for IMT-2000.

A number of options exists to ensure that all services co-exist without causing harmful interference to one another from co-sharing to adopting incentives to moving to other frequency bands those users who have reserved, but not used, large portions of the spectrum. From a purely business angle, mobile services are among those that probably bring the highest revenue per kHz. From a regulatory viewpoint, a unanimous agreement on candidate bands for the additional spectrum for IMT-2000 was reached by ITU Members in Fortaleza, Brazil in March 1999, taking into account that some of the required bandwidth will almost certainly be re-farmed and reused spectrum made available as second generation systems are gradually taken out of service.

Estimates show that the 3G market is expected to grow from US$1.5 billion in 2001 to US$9.2 billion in 2005, with investment in infrastructure to support 3G services reaching some US$1 billion in 2001 and peak in 2003 at over US$5 billion. With such high stakes and  with the licensing process for third generation systems picking up strong momentum worldwide, many delegations will be working hard to find ways of increasing spectrum availability for 3G services.

The text of these and other statements made can be accessed by clicking here

About ITU

Top - Feedback - Contact Us - Copyright © ITU 2008 All Rights Reserved
Contact for this page : External Affairs and Corporate Communication Division
Updated : 2002-12-17