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ITU Strategy and Policy Unit News Update 
Monthly Flash - January 2004


Issue 6
: January 2004


Previous editions

In this edition

New Visions after the World Summit on the Information Society
1. The road ahead after the first phase of WSIS: Hot topics for 2004
2. *Spectrum management in a converging world: The case of the UK
3. ITU Consultancy Project launched


 

This issue of our Monthly Flash provides a preview of some of the topics of focus in 2004. These topics have been selected based on responses to an annual questionnaire from ITU Member States and Sector Members, as well as on calls made in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action to develop international studies on some of the particularly pressing issues of the information society.

*"Spectrum Management in a Converging World" is the title of a new workshop organized by the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) in the context of a new series of workshops and symposia to take place during 2004. A publication based on each event will be made available for sale through the ITU Sales Service (sales@itu.int), and background information pertaining to each event is published on the ITU website at: http://www.itu.int/ni. This series of ITU events and publications has been made possible with the help of the Japanese Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT). 


1. The road ahead after the first phase of WSIS: Hot topics for 2004

This section provides a preview of some of the major topics of focus of ITU in 2004. These topics have been selected based on responses to an annual questionnaire from ITU Member States and Sector Members, as well as on calls made in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action to develop international studies on some of the particularly pressing issues of the information society.

1. Workshop on Internet governance 

The WSIS Declaration of Principles states the following on the topic of Internet governance:

"The Internet has evolved into a global facility available to the public and its governance should constitute a core issue of the Information Society agenda. The international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. It should ensure an equitable distribution of resources, facilitate access for all and ensure a stable and secure functioning of the Internet, taking into account multilingualism."

It goes on to state:

"[...] International Internet governance issues should be addressed in a coordinated manner. We ask the Secretary-General of the United Nations to set up a working group on Internet governance, in an open and inclusive process that ensures a mechanism for the full and active participation of governments, the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries, involving relevant intergovernmental and international organizations and forums, to investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of Internet by 2005." 

The WSIS Plan of Action also sets out proposals as follows:

"We ask the Secretary General of the United Nations to set up a working group on Internet governance, in an open and inclusive process that ensures a mechanism for the full and active participation of governments, the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries, involving relevant intergovernmental and international organizations and forums, to investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of Internet by 2005.  The group should, inter alia:

i)    develop a working definition of Internet governance; 

ii)   identify the public policy issues that are relevant to Internet governance;

iii)    develop a common understanding of the respective roles and  responsibilities of governments, existing intergovernmental and international organisations and other forums as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries; 

iv)    prepare a report on the results of this activity to be presented for consideration and appropriate action for the second phase of WSIS in Tunis in 2005."

One of the objectives of this new ITU workshop is to initiate a process to prepare ITU's inputs and position vis-à-vis the working group to be established on Internet governance resulting from the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted on 12 December 2003 at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). 

The workshop will provide a forum for exchanging views on definitions, viewpoints, visions and analytical studies on Internet governance. The output of the workshop will be submitted to the appropriate ITU decision-making bodies for their further consideration. Attendance is open to all ITU Member States and Sector Members and individually invited selected experts in Internet governance. For additional information, see the related links or contact the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit at spumail@itu.int.

2. Council Working Group on WSIS (25 February 2004). For further information visit the ITU Council website.

3. Spectrum Management in a Converging World (16-18 February 2004) (see below)

4. Shaping the Future Mobile Information Society and the Future Broadband Convergence Network (3-5 March 2004)

Following on from major telecommunications issues in 2003, and on the basis of ITU Member States' and Sector Members' selections, a two-day workshop on this topic will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea (hosted by the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC)), on 4 and 5 March 2004, preceded by a one-day symposium focusing on broadband.

For further information visit: http://www.itu.int/futuremobile

5. Workshop on SPAM 

Also selected as an area of high current interest by ITU Member States and Sector Members, and highlighted by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as one of the key issues to be tackled by policy-makers, regulators and other interest groups in the near future, is SPAM.  Further information will become available at: http://www.itu.int/ni

 


2. Spectrum Management in a Converging world: The case of the UK

This article is an extract from a case study on spectrum management in the United Kingdom prepared by Martin Cave, Professor and Director, Centre for Management under Regulation, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (United Kingdom) as part of an ITU Workshop on Radio Spectrum Management for a Converging World organized by the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit in collaboration with the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau (BR). The workshop manager is Eric Lie and the series is organized under the overall responsibility of Tim Kelly, Head, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU). Further information and other case studies on spectrum management in Australia and Guatemala can be found at: http://www.itu.int/spectrum

The views expressed in the paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITU or its membership.

The communications environment in the United Kingdom

The UK communications sector is regulated by a variety of Acts, the two most recent of which are the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1998 and the Communications Act of 2003. These Acts are of special interest because, as outlined in more detail in the full case study, they introduced major reforms into spectrum management – the former permits the application of administered prices for spectrum and auctions, the latter spectrum trading.

The principal body responsible for spectrum management has since 29 December 2003 been the Office of Communications, known as OFCOM, an independent agency which on that date took over the function from the Radiocommunications Agency, part of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).  OFCOM is responsible for spectrum management and is also responsible for the issue and enforcement of licences.  Such licences take various forms. In relation to the bulk of licensed spectrum, they take the form of apparatus licences, which precisely define the radio station, its location and technical characteristics. Some licences are issued annually, subject to renewal; others are issued without specific time limitation, but subject to revocation in certain circumstances.

Unlicensed spectrum

The mode of spectrum management applied to unlicensed spectrum involves eschewing licensing completely, making the spectrum licence-exempt and allowing access to any user satisfying certain conditions, such as on the power of equipment utilized. A list of bands which are currently licence-exempt in the United Kingdom is given in Table 1 below.

Table 1:  Unlicensed spectrum in the UK

Generic Frequency Band

Application

9 kHz to 30 MHz

Short-range inductive applications

27 MHz

Telemetry, telecommand and model control

40 MHz

Telemetry, telecommand and model control

49 MHz

General purpose low power devices

173 MHz

Alarms, telemetry, telecommand and medical applications

405 MHz

Ultra low power medical implants devices

418 MHz

General purpose telemetry and telecommand applications [1]

458 MHz

Alarms, telemetry, telecommand and medical applications

864 MHz

Cordless audio applications

868 MHz

Alarms, telemetry and telecommand applications

2400 MHz

General purpose short-range applications, including CCTV and RFID.  Also used for WLANs including Bluetooth applications

5.8 GHz

HiperLANs, general purpose short-range applications, including road traffic and transport telematics

10.5 GHz

Movement detection

24 GHz

Movement detection

63 GHz

2nd phase road traffic and transport telematics

76 GHz

Vehicle radar systems

Source: OFCOM (United Kingdom)


Unlicensed spectrum has caught the imagination in the UK, as elsewhere, as a result of the development of Wireless Fidelity, or "Wi-Fi" hotspots, offering Internet access to nomadic users over a small radius. Following a consultation, the UK Government  permitted operators to provide commercial services using unlicensed spectrum. This has allowed, for example, the supply of paying Wi-Fi services in places such as coffee-shops. 

In its Strategy for the Future use of the Radio Spectrum in the UK (2002), the Radiocommunications Agency noted that:

"Licence-exemption can offer significant advantages for users, particularly the cost savings and convenience resulting from the possibility of using radio equipment without the need to apply for a Wireless Telegraphy Act Licence and a specific spectrum assignment. This offers obvious advantages in relation to mass-produced items for domestic use, such as remote controls or garage-door openers, for which individual licensing would not be feasible, and for private users or small businesses who wish to use radio equipment in a domestic or office setting. The Agency has made a number of bands available on a licence-exempt basis and these are set out in Exemption Regulations which are reviewed periodically. [...]

Licence-exempt bands are not centrally coordinated and interference between devices on the same frequency is limited to some extent by the power imitations imposed in the Interface Requirements. The self-evident limitation of uncoordinated licence-exempt bands is that there can be no guarantee of any degree of spectrum quality for users in any given area, who must expect that on occasions there will be instances of co-channel interference. Moreover, the Agency is aware that short-range low-power devices for mass market applications invariably have limited receiver performance in terms of poor selectivity. This renders them liable in particular to interference from generally higher power devices operating in adjacent licensed bands.

As the number of short-range wireless applications increases, it is possible that, in some areas of dense use, the noise floor will increase and new techniques may be required to ameliorate the effects of interference. Such techniques are available in the form of technologies to improve channel access generally through dynamic frequency selection and power control. Nevertheless, the Agency is aware that under extreme conditions there will be limitations through possible congestion and intends to work with industry to ensure that these are understood by potential users, particularly in regard to the unprotected mature of deregulated spectrum.

Another potential difficulty, from a spectrum management point of view, is that the process of deregulating a band is very difficult to reverse, as there will be no record of the equipment used in the band and no way of requiring its use to be discontinued other than the slow process of withdrawing the relevant UK Interface Requirement and waiting for the items in use to reach the end of their life."

In the Spectrum Trading Consultation, OFCOM notes that:

“Where OFCOM is satisfied that particular radio equipment is not likely to involve any undue interference with wireless telegraphy, OFCOM will be required to exempt the use of that radio equipment from the general obligation to obtain a WT Act licence. As part of this process, the Radiocommunications Agency is currently considering the possibility of deregulation in certain licence classes. For example, it may be possible in future to exempt on-board maritime spectrum use from individual licensing. In future, as technologies such as software-defined radio advance and become more widespread, OFCOM may make much greater use of licence exemption as a spectrum management tool, rather than issuing tradable licences."

As an illustration of this approach, In October 2003, the Radiocommunications Agency published a consultation document on Use of the 2010 to 2025 MHz Band for the Provision of 3G Telecommunications Services. This is of interest, since for the first time it sought views on whether the band should be employed for licence-exempt self-providing applications, or whether it should be licensed.

[1] Note: This band is to be withdrawn by December 2007


3. ITU Consultancy Project launched

Based on Decision 7 (Marrakesh, 2002) of the highest decision-making body of ITU, the Plenipotentiary Conference, in 2002, and as a result of ongoing work within the ITU Administrative Council (composed of government representatives), an external consultancy has been recruited by ITU with a view to helping the organization respond to the fast-changing telecommunications environment. As a true reflection of the international and independent nature of ITU, the reform process has been carried out with the full involvement of the organization's members representing 189 world economies.  

  


For further information on Strategy and Policy Unit Monthly News Flash, please contact: ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, International Telecommunication Union, Place des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 20 (Switzerland). Fax: +41 22 730 6453. E-mail: spumail@itu.int . Website: www.itu.int/spu/

 

 

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