Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06), in session since last week, has
been making quiet but steady progress towards an ‘all-digital’ terrestrial
broadcasting service for radio and television. This represents a significant
step in the future development of information and communication technologies as
well as the revolutionary direction it will provide in improving communications
In its first week of deliberations, RRC-06 took decisions to allow iteration
of the complex software tools used by the ITU secretariat as a basis to generate
the draft plan that will facilitate digital broadcasts around the world in the
Mr Yoshio Utsumi, addressing the inaugural session of the Conference on 15
May, noted that digital terrestrial broadcasting is now a reality in many
countries. "Many Member States have already established a cut-off date for
migration from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting," he said.
"Recognizing the advantages of the digital dividend, these countries are
demanding immediate and unrestricted access to digital bandwidths. Meanwhile,
other countries remain protective of the analogue system."
In view of this divergence, a major challenge of the Conference is to find
ways of permitting digital and analogue broadcasting systems to co-habit on the
radio frequency spectrum without causing interference. A regional agreement for
the digital service, planned in the frequency bands 174-230 MHz and 470-862 MHz,
should be reached at the end of the next five weeks of deliberations with
important implications for countries of Europe and Africa (Region 1) and the
Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Region 3).
Conference Chairman, Mr Kavouss Arasteh of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
noted that the overall objective for RRC-06 must be to meet current digital
broadcasting requirements while gaining the maximum flexibility for the future
use of the spectrum becoming available as a result of digital technology
efficiency gains. He added that such spectrum may be provided for broadcasting
services, as well as other potential advanced communications services, matching
both technological and commercial developments.
Digital terrestrial television broadcasting is already a reality in many
countries within the planning area. In countries where terrestrial television is
still dominant, application of digital broadcasting is providing more channels
and increasing choice for the consumers. In other countries where there is a
much higher penetration of cable and satellite and less reliance on terrestrial
broadcasting, digital broadcasting offers mobile reception of video, internet
and multimedia data.
Digital broadcasting is roughly six times more efficient than analogue,
allowing more channels to be carried across fewer airwaves. The plans for
digital switchover will therefore allow for an increase in the efficiency with
which the spectrum is used — a digital dividend — which will open the way for
wireless innovation and the potential for new services.
Mr Arasteh also co-chaired the first session of the Radiocommunication
Conference in 2004 and chaired the intersessional planning activities.
Digital terrestrial broadcasting services will go a long way in connecting
remote communities and in closing the digital divide. Mr Valery Timofeev,
Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau of ITU, said, "This conference
represents the first practical response in the radiocommunications sector to the
decisions of the World Summit on the Information Society concerning the existing
Nearly 700 delegates representing 120 administrations of ITU Members States
within the planning area are currently debating complex technical, regulatory
and political issues while simultaneously negotiating with neighbours on the
coexistence of broadcasting and other wireless systems.
RRC-06 is running in parallel with two short-period conferences for the
revision and abrogation of the Stockholm 1961 and Geneva 1989 Agreements dealing
with frequency bands and articles relevant to analogue television.