Informal Group - Memorandum of Understanding - GMPCS
(Geneva, 14 February 1997)


18 February 1997

Chairman's Report


Geneva, 14 February 1997

1. As requested in Opinion No. 4 of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum (Geneva, 1996), on 13 November 1996 the Secretary-General circulated the "Draft Memorandum of Understanding to Facilitate the Free Circulation of Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite User Terminals (GMPCS-MoU)" which was annexed to that Opinion to Administrations, GMPCS operators, service providers, manufacturers and members of the ITU Sectors with an invitation to comment. By the same letter, he indicated that he intended to convene a meeting of an informal group of these parties in Geneva on 14 February 1997 to consider the comments received and improve the GMPCS-MoU, as was also requested in Opinion No. 4.

2. By the date of this meeting, 88 replies had been received to the Secretary-General's request. Some of these replies proposed additions, modifications or deletions to the wording of the draft GMPCS MoU. Others made comments on its provisions, without proposing specific amendments to the wording. Still others made general comments on the issues addressed by the MoU. All these comments were incorporated in a document de travail (DT) prepared by the Secretariat to serve as the working document of the meeting. In addition, all replies were posted on the ITU web site as they were received, and hard copies were provided to all participants at the meeting.

3. The meeting of the informal group was attended by 128 delegates of whom 88 represented ITU Member States and 40 represented Sector Members.

4. In his opening address to the meeting, the Secretary-General urged the delegates to concentrate on the main issues raised by the comments received on the draft GMPCS-MoU, rather than on the details of the many proposals which had been received. He stressed that the MoU was essentially an agreement among the parties to work together to develop arrangements which would facilitate the introduction of GMPCS. The Secretary-General went on to say that it was important to ensure that the principles enshrined in the Chairman's Report of the WTPF were adequately reflected in the GMPCS-MoU, and that clear distinctions should be made between the general commitments of the MoU and the specific provisions of the arrangements.

5. As proposed by the Secretary-General, the meeting elected Eng. E. N. OleKambainei, Director-General of the Tanzania Telecommunications Commission, as Chairman.

6. The Chairman asked the Secretariat to present the DT summarizing comments on the draft MoU. He then asked Mr. B. Gracie (Canada) to recapitulate the process by which the draft MoU had been originally developed and to summarize its main points. This done, the Chairman then made the following proposals:

6.1 the MoU should be improved so as to clearly state its purpose -- i.e. that it is an agreement to work together to prepare arrangements, not the arrangements themselves;

6.2 the mandatory and voluntary principles embodied in the Chairman's report of the WTPF should be incorporated in the MoU by reference rather than by repeating them in extenso;

6.3 in particular, reference should be made in the preamble to the MoU to the sovereign right of ITU Member States to regulate their telecommunications and to the obligation to respect national laws and regulations;

6.4 to reflect the voluntary nature of the MoU, "shalls" should be replaced by "wills" throughout the text;

6.5 to avoid confusion as to the voluntary nature of the MoU and to reflect the fact that it would be open to signature by Administrations, GMPCS operators, service providers and manufacturers, the word "Signatories" should be used to designate those who sign it, instead of "Parties";

6.6 the detailed proposals made in comments on the draft MoU should all be retained and considered at the next stage of the process when detailed implementation arrangements would be developed.

7. The Chairman's proposals were accepted. The meeting then engaged in a general discussion of the issues that needed to be addressed in order to improve the draft MoU. The following proposals were made during this discussion:

7.1 the title of the MoU should be amended to reflect the fact that its provisions deal with more than the free circulation of GMPCS terminals;

7.2 it should be clear that the MoU does not amend the Instruments of the ITU and that it involves a number of different arrangements, some falling within the specific competence of telecommunications Administrations and others within the competence of other authorities;

7.3 priority actions and time frames should be indicated wherever possible;

7.4 a distinction should be drawn between actions intended to facilitate circulation of individual terminals and those intended to facilitate the placing of terminals on the market for commercial purposes;

7.5 in addition to referencing the mandatory provisions of the ITU Instruments and the voluntary principles embodied in the Chairman's Report of the WTPF, the MoU should reference national requirements regarding licensing and frequency assignment.

8. On the basis of this discussion, the Chairman undertook to prepare a revised draft MoU for consideration by the meeting during its afternoon session. When the meeting resumed after the lunch break to consider the Chairman's draft, a number of further improvements were made. The meeting then agreed to accept the text of the GMPCS MoU which accompanies this report.

9. On the basis of consultations undertaken over the lunch break, it was then proposed that the following approach be taken to carrying forward work on the GMPCS MoU:

9.1 as requested in Opinion No. 4, the Secretary-General would circulate the improved MoU to Administrations, GMPCS operators, service providers, and members of the ITU Sectors with an invitation to sign, and host a first meeting of the signatories and intended signatories to the GMPCS-MoU during the first semester of 1997 in order to begin work on arrangements relating to the free circulation of terminals as specified in the Articles of the MoU;

9.2 Mr. OleKambainei would continue to serve as the leader of the informal group and the focal point for the further development and implementation of the GMPCS-MoU;

9.3 three projects would be undertaken to prepare for the first meeting of signatories and potential signatories:

  1. These proposals were accepted as a way of going forward.