January 19, 1996


This report of the World Telecommunication Advisory Council (WTAC) to the Secretary General presents WTAC's advice to the Secretary General on the subject of regulatory issues arising from the prospective deployment of Global Mobile Personal Communication Systems (GMPCS). This advice is intended to assist the Secretary General in making preparations for the International Telecommunications Policy Forum, and especially in preparing his report for the Forum.

The advice is based in part on the major conclusions emerging from a Symposium on the regulatory issues arising from the prospective deployment of GMPCS, convened by WTAC on January 18th, 1996. This Symposium brought together senior level representatives from prospective GMPCS operators; operators of other relevant types of satellite systems (geostationary FSS, MSS, "Little LEO's" and wideband LEOs); national policy makers and regulators; and a small number of senior independent experts. The Symposium in turn took as the starting point for its discussion the six-point "suggested points for consideration by national policy makers" which were developed at the ITU's Third Regulatory Colloquium in November 1994. The WTAC in developing its advice to the Secretary General has therefore had available to it four detailed reports: the report to WTAC by the Moderator and Rapporteur of the January 18 Symposium (Mr. David Leive and Mr. Michael Tyler), a paper prepared for the Symposium by David Leive on GMPCS Policy and Regulatory Issues, the Chairman's Report of the Third Regulatory Colloquium; and the Briefing Report of the Third Regulatory Colloquium.

The WTAC's advice to the Secretary General comprises two parts:

The remainder of this report addresses each of these two aspects in turn:


The set of Principles that WTAC recommends the Secretary General (and ultimately the Policy Forum) is presented below. (The reader should note that, when the Principles refer to "national regulators", this reference is intended to all bodies to which decision-making authority is assigned on these issues: in certain case in the European Union, this will include the European Commission.

Four general aspects of these Principles warrant particular mention:

  1. The Principles should be applicable to a broader category of global systems than solely GMPCS. This is because other types of global systems present many of the same regulatory issues, particularly as regards user terminals. For these reasons, it is proposed that the Principles be applicable to "global systems" that have global or near global coverage with a large number of very small user terminals (portable handsets, other portable terminals or stationary terminals).
  2. The Principles are applicable to a variety of differing licensing functions which need to be carefully differentiated: licensing of the satellite system (e.g. by the US for the Big LEO systems); licensing by national authorities in many countries concerning the provision of services, interconnection, the operation of gateway stations and use of user terminals.
  3. The Principles may require elaboration or refinement in the coming months prior to the Policy Forum as system operators and regulators consider together the appropriateness of each particular Principle. Moreover, additional Principles may emerge.
  4. The Principles are not compulsory. Telecommunication administrations worldwide have the sovereign right to decide for themselves whether to accept them fully, partly or not at all.

The Principles are as follows:

1. Sovereign Rights

On the one hand, the sovereign right of national decision making applies in its full force to the regulation of GMPCS, as to other telecommunication systems and services. On the other hand, in exercising that right, national policy makers and regulators should 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, licenses for each such 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.

3. Competitive Basis

No operator capable of providing GMPCS service on a global basis should be excluded from the market unless there are compelling technical or public policy reasons. In exercising their sovereign rights, national policy makers should seek to maximize competition in the provision of GMPCS services,within the limits of spectrum availability and the framework of their national telecommunications policy.

4. Scope of 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 national government licenses a GMPCS space segment operator, it should encourage wide participation by foreign investors 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 the numerous individual terminals that will be used by GMPCS customers. National governments should endeavor through appropriate international arrangements (bilateral or where appropriate multilateral) to achieve compatibility in their terminal approvals in order to facilitate unrestricted international circulation of terminals. In doing so, they should take into account any applicable ITU-T Recommendations on those technical characteristics that are necessary and sufficient to avoid harmful interference, as well as relevant standards of other bodies such as ISO.

9. Licensing of Services and Gateways

When governments (including governments other than the government that licensed the space segment operator 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 regulators 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 7, concerning user equipment, including handsets.

Such additional work can best be accomplished in two stages:

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


There are four 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. WTAC advise the Secretary General that additional work will be needed in these areas both before and after the Policy Forum, and recommends that he highlight these areas in his report to the Policy Forum.


While the ITU's process for frequency allocations, co-ordination and registration of frequency assignments have so far played a very important role in meeting spectrum requirements for GMPCS, there is clearly a need (recognized by the last Plenipotentiary Conference) for further work to adapt the principles and practices followed by the ITU and member governments, to the current environment (in which the demand for spectrum may exceed supply), including consideration of whether there is a need for fundamental change in the ITU processes for coordination and registration, including a possible need to change the "first come first served"approach.. This work will continue to be an important priority for the ITU's Radiocommunication Sector, the World Radiocommunication Conferences, and national radio-regulatory agencies.


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 compatibility of network interfaces; 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.


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 and assess the feasibility and desirability of achieving increased compatibility of national regulatory policies concerning GMPCS in this area of regulation.


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 through the appropriate Study Groups in ITU-T.

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