by David Leive, Symposium Moderator and Michael Tyler, Rapporteur

January 18, 1996


This report to the World Telecommunication Advisory Council is intended to perform four functions:

The reminder of this report addresses each of these four topics in turn.


The following conclusions represented the views of a wide range of participants.

  1. National sovereignty remains the basis of international relations in the world of telecommunications policy and of national decision-making about the advanced international telecommunication systems which were the subject of the Symposium. This will, and should, continue to be the case in the future.
  2. National governments increasingly recognize that, in the exercise of their sovereign decision-making in this field, it is in their interest to achieve a sufficient degree of international compatibility of national regulatory policies to facilitate deployment of GMPCS, and to allow the economic benefits of these systems to be fully realized.
  3. This recognition is reflected in the international obligations that governments have already undertaken in this field, for example through decisions at WARC '92 and WRC '95 to allocate frequencies for GMPCS. These obligations represent the starting point for international cooperation in the field of regulatory policy for GMPCS.
  4. The common interest, however, extends beyond the agreements already reached. This can appropriately be reflected by a set of Principles recommended by WTAC to the Secretary General and the ITU Policy Forum. This set of Principles is not intended to be embodied in a binding agreement. Instead the Principles are addressed to national policy makers and regulators and may be used by them, at their discretion, when licensing GMPCS systems.
  5. The starting point for the Symposium was the Chairman's Report of the Third ITU Regulatory Colloquium in November 1994 and particularly the six suggested "Points for Consideration" set out in the Annex to that Report. The Symposium also had available to it (i) a detailed background study of the issues in the form of the Briefing Report to the Third Colloquium; and (ii) a short paper on GMPCS Policy and Regulatory Issues prepared for the Symposium by David Leive. On the basis of experience since 1994, the Symposium has built upon or modified the six points in the November 1994 Report.
  6. Beyond the Principles, there is a further series of regulatory policy matters (some covering the same topics, some concerning other topics not already included in the Principles) which it is not appropriate to include in the Principles at this time, but on which further international consultation is needed. Consultations on these issues should be actively pursued by national policy makers and regulators and by GMPCS system operators, both through existing activities (e.g. "Questions" already under consideration in ITU Study Groups) and through new activities as appropriate.

The remaining three sections of this report consider in turn:


The following considerations underlie the Principles.

  1. There is a widespread common interest among system operators, and regulators and policy makers in the many countries which will benefit from GMPCS, in facilitating implementation of these systems with sensitivity to national concerns.
  2. There is an equally broad common interest in promoting competition in the provision of these services and open market access.
  3. A combination of the existing ITU procedures for frequency allocation and coordination plus effective future national regulatory actions to license these systems, taken together, should be sufficient to facilitate rapid implementation. With these elements, there should be no need for any more ambitious global regulatory framework or approach.
  4. National regulatory action is essential to the implementation of these systems, and encompasses a variety of different licensing actions, described below. All possible assistance should be given to national regulatory authorities to assist them in building up the information and expertise needed to discharge their responsibilities.
  5. The ITU Policy Forum scheduled for October 1996 provides the most appropriate vehicle to consider these issues relating to GMPCS. Moreover, given the scheduled deployment dates for the new systems, the timing of the Forum is propitious. It is important that progress in these matters be made quickly, so as to assist prompt deployment of GMPCS systems.
  6. To this end, the sense of the Symposium was that the WTAC should consider recommending to the Secretary General and the Policy Forum that a set of Principles be established which would have the following characteristics:
  1. Since the Principles are addressed to national policy makers and regulators and since in many developing countries such officials may not have the necessary information or expertise to apply them, it is important that a major informational effort be undertaken to assist these policy makers and regulators in gaining the expertise needed to effectively apply these Principles. As part of this effort, it is recommended that the Secretary General consider organizing informal briefing meetings for this purpose, perhaps beginning prior to the convening of the Policy Forum and continuing as appropriate thereafter.
  2. The Symposium noted the statement of the representative of the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications that, given the limited budget available for the Policy Forum, financial contributions were required to defray the expenses of the Policy Forum, and to support an informational effort, and noted also that Japan will make a substantial financial contribution.
  3. Three general aspects of these Principles warrant particular mention:

* * *

The Principles which emerged from the Symposium discussion are presented below. (The reader should note that when the Principles refer to "national regulators," this reference is intended to include all bodies to which decision making activity is assigned on these issues: in certain cases in the European Union, this will include the European Commission.)

  1. Sovereign Rights. The sovereign right of national decision-making applies to the regulation of GMPCS, as to other telecommunication systems and services. In exercising that right, national policy makers and regulators should take into account the technical requirements and constraints facing GMPCS operators, and develop their regulatory policies so as to foster international compatibility with respect to those policies and thus facilitate timely deployment of GMPCS and full realization of the economic benefits.
  2. Global Coverage. Where spectrum is assigned to non-geostationary GMPCS uses, in effect committing that spectrum to a limited number of users, on an essentially worldwide basis, the national authority in its license for the system should require the operators' space segment to use the assignment efficiently, by providing coverage over at least the majority of the Earth's habitable surface and commercially-used ocean regions. (The logic of the Principle is such that it does not apply to geostationary satellites and purely regional systems).
  3. Competitive Basis. Competition between GMPCS service providers should be encouraged. No operator capable of providing GMPCS service should be excluded from the market unless there are compelling public policy reasons, such as instances in which the spectrum available in a given case is not sufficient for all the systems to operate, should such situations arise.
  4. Limited Regulation. GMPCS systems, services and facilities (e.g., earth stations) should only be regulated to the extent necessary to achieve national policy goals, such as universal service.
  5. Prior Agreement. Provision of telecommunications services within, to or from each individual country using a GMPCS space segment requires prior agreement with the government of the country concerned.
  6. Non-discriminatory Access. GMPCS system operators should avoid any discrimination among different countries or categories of users except where this is sufficiently justified by specific technical or commercial considerations or constraints.
  7. Equity Participation in the Space Segment. When a GMPCS space segment is licensed by a national government, the government doing so should encourage wide foreign participation in the equity of the licensed system, and not limit such participation to its own nationals.
  8. User Terminals. User equipment, including handsets, should be approved by national governments or regulatory agencies on the basis of general approvals of equipment types ("blanket approvals" or "class licenses"), not licenses for individual terminals. National governments should endeavor through appropriate international arrangements (bilateral or where appropriate multilateral) to achieve compatibility in their terminal approval procedures in order to facilitate unrestricted international circulation of terminals.
  9. Licensing of Services and Gateways. When governments (including governments other than the government that licensed the space segment of a particular GMPCS) are making decisions about the licensing of services using a particular GMPCS, the licensing of associated facilities like "gateway" earth stations, or interconnection, they should do so in such a way as to facilitate competition. The question of local ownership participation in the gateway stations is best left to commercial decision-making by GMPCS operators and their local partners, consistent with national law and policy of the country concerned.
  10. Transparency. National regulatory procedures should be independent, open and transparent.
  11. Global Roaming. National regulation should encourage global roaming and adopt specific regulatory measures, where necessary, to facilitate it.


In the case of some of the Principles set out above, additional work may be needed in order to assist national regulators in applying the Principles and to indicate how the appropriate degree of compatibility of national regulatory policies can be achieved. This applies in particular to Principle 8, concerning user terminals, including handsets.

Such additional work can best be accomplished in two stages: prior to the Policy Forum, national governments and the GMPCS operators should cooperatively explore the alternative ways in which compatibility of national approvals for user terminals, and hence unrestricted international mobility of such terminals, can be achieved. This will assist the Secretary General in outlining the possibilities in his report to the Policy Forum, and should assist the Policy Forum in evaluating them. Subsequent to the Forum, methods that find favor with national governments (through the Forum discussions or otherwise) could be further developed and assessed through consultations involving governments and GMPCS operators.

In particular, methods for facilitating compatibility of national approvals, and hence unrestricted mobility of terminals, which deserve consideration in this process, include:


There are additional areas of regulatory policy for GMPCS where compatibility of national policies is highly desirable to facilitate the timely deployment of GMPCS, and the full realization of its potential economic benefits. Four such areas are indicated below, and we suggest that WTAC advise the Secretary General to highlight these areas in his report to the Policy Forum.

  1. Frequency Allocation and Coordination Procedures. The ITU's processes for frequency allocation, co-ordination and registration of frequency assignments have so far played a key role in meeting spectrum requirements for GMPCS. Nevertheless, there is clearly a general need, recognized by Resolution 18 of the Kyoto Plenipotentiary Conference, for further work to adapt the principles and practices followed by the ITU and member governments to the current environment, particularly as regards geostationary satellite systems. This work will continue to be an important priority for the ITU's Radiocommunication Sector, the World Radiocommunication Conferences, and national radio-regulatory agencies.
  2. Interconnection. Rapid deployment of GMPCS on an economically viable basis will only be possible if GMPCS operators are able to interconnect with the pre-existing public network, and if they can do so on technically and commercially reasonable terms. Further work on interconnection policy is desirable to clarify policy alternatives, to assess the feasibility and desirability of achieving increased compatibility of national regulatory policies concerning GMPCS in this area of regulation, and to make progress towards such compatibility where this is found to be necessary.
  3. Technical Standards. Extensive technical standardization is not appropriate to GMPCS. The great majority of technical decisions should be made by the operators themselves, based on their own commercial and technical criteria. Nevertheless, some technical Recommendations should be established, and followed by GMPCS operators, service providers, and manufacturers of terminals, in order to provide a common basis on which large numbers of national governments and telecommunication regulators can make decisions on type-approval of terminals. Such Recommendations would be designed only to ensure that terminals meet legitimate public policy considerations such as safety and avoidance of harmful interference. In this case, the appropriate mechanism for making progress in achieving compatibility of national policies is the work of regional and international standardization bodies, including the ITU Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T).
  4. Numbering. Establishing suitable numbering arrangements for GMPCS is an essential precondition for many (though not all) of the commercial modes of operations foreseen for GMPCS. Work on this subject is already well advanced within ITU-T Study Groups.

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