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Radiocommunication Connects the Information Society

For almost a century, radiocommunications have been close to the heart of ITU’s mission to connect humanity through communications, and the many stakeholders in this work have shown a tremendous commitment to this challenge.

In addition to determining the technical characteristics and operational procedures for a wide range of wireless services, the Radiocommunication Bureau also plays a vital role in the management of the radio-frequency spectrum, a finite resource that is increasingly in demand. Its work is vital to a wide range of the human need for connectivity including telecommunications, broadcasting, amateur radio communications, space research, radio astronomy, aeronautical and maritime services, meteorology and, not least, emergency communication services that ensure safety of life on land, at sea, in the skies and in space.

Preparing for the Future

Providing communication access for humanity requires the development of a proper regulatory environment as well as the design of the appropriate standards. The World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in 2003 (WRC-03) in Geneva, Switzerland, will be key in the further development of an adapted regulatory framework to ensure fair and efficient use of the radio-frequency spectrum. The work of ITU–R study groups and the Special Committee on Regulatory and Procedural Matters in 2001 in preparation for WRC-03 makes possible the necessary technical and operational bases on which to take sound decisions. It also ensures that the world radiocommunication community gets timely and relevant standards to continue the development of mobile, wireless and satellite-based systems and services.

The preparation for the Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-03) and the WRC-03 has involved all the ITU–R study groups and the Special Committee, resulting in the development of significant contributions for the Conference Preparatory Meeting scheduled for November 2002.

The main study areas in regard to standardization have related to operational and technical limits in the fixed-satellite service allocations to space science services, earth stations on board vessels using fixed-satellite service bands, and allocations to fixed terrestrial services.

Special provisions have been established in order to revise the 1961 Stockholm Agreement, which will enable the introduction of digital sound and television broadcasting. The ITU–R study group chairmen and vice-chairmen decided to designate Study Group 6 (Broadcasting) as responsible study group. As a result, Study Group 6 established a new task group to prepare a technical report for the First Session of the Regional Conference. A new Recommendation containing a VHF/UHF point-to-area prediction method, for use by broadcasting and mobile services, is expected to greatly contribute to this preparatory work.

Considerable progress has also been made in the development of a number of significant new or revised Recommendations on radio-system standards. This concerns, in particular, those intended to facilitate the introduction of the IMT-2000 systems as well as to address technical characteristics and sharing criteria in preparation for WRC-03.

Study group activities have also resulted in the preparation of a considerable number of new handbooks which were published in 2001 or are in the process of being prepared. Their topics include:

  • Satellite Communications
  • Terrestrial Land Mobile Radiowave Propagation in the VHF/UHF Bands
  • Digital Sound Broadcasting
  • Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting
  • Space Research Communication
  • Use of the Frequency Spectrum for Meteorology
  • Frequency Adaptive Communication Systems and Networks in the MF/HF Bands
  • Spectrum Monitoring (new edition)

Space Service Connections

Satellites play an important role in the development of world communication systems and services, encompassing an increasing range of services, which go beyond traditional (fixed and mobile) voice and data. These include, amongst others, broadcasting, digital cinema, meteorology, maritime communications, health care, distance learning and space research.

ITU–R plays a vital role in the development of a relevant regulatory, policy and technology framework for the peaceful use of outer space in general and of satellites and their applications in particular.

The primary objective of the Radiocommunication Bureau is to process notices for new or modified satellite systems. At the end of 2001, the Radiocommunication Bureau reported 1409 coordination requests outstanding. While the number of notices is virtually the same as the previous year, improvements in processing methods and software have begun to speed up the ability to handle them. However, the work by the Bureau continues to be overburdened by the fact that notices for advance publication and coordination of new systems and modifications to systems continue to be submitted in volumes that are around five times greater than the numbers of satellite systems that are subsequently brought into service.

During 2001, the Bureau also implemented decisions from WRC-2000 to introduce the new Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS) Plans and the Lists for Regions 1 and 3 established at the Conference. This work included the need to complete a review started in 2000 of all relevant satellite systems already published in order to determine whether or not there is any additional requirements for coordination. The review activity will enable the Bureau to resume its normal activity of examining proposals for modifications to the Plans.

Earth Service Connections

While satellite services are fundamental to the development of a fully effective worldwide communication network, most applications and services are based on fixed or mobile, wire line or wireless terrestrial systems where potentially harmful interference remains the biggest concern.

The FM/TV component for the processing of notices for terrestrial services (TerRaSys) became fully operational during 2001 and the accumulated backlog was eliminated at the end of October 2001 (completion of the treatment for 7 754 notices for new or modified assignments under Article S11, as well as for 10 072 submissions for plan modifications under various regional agreements).

With respect to notices for which standard tools are not yet available, local databases were developed to deal with these and resulted in a treatment of 45 081 notices under Article S11, as well as of 134 submission notices under various Plan modification procedures. The relevant information was published on a bi-weekly basis, through the International Frequency Information Circular (IFIC), as well as on the ITU website.

In addition, some 30 373 notices were treated under the Article S12 procedure (HF broadcasting service) and the relevant information, including the compatibility results, has been distributed regularly, on a monthly basis, through CD-ROMs.

The Bureau continued to provide updated information on the use of the frequency spectrum, as well as publishing various service documents dealing with ship stations, coast stations, radio determination and special service stations and call signs. The online database on ship stations, Maritime mobile Access and Retrieval System (MARS), which is available 24 hours a day, has been enhanced by incorporating additional search and rescue information, and arrangements were made to provide access to this additional data for authorized users around the world.

In response to several categories of users, the List of Ship Stations (List V) was published in a combined format: paper version containing particulars of all ship stations that are normally engaged on international voyages, and a CD-ROM version containing the complete information on all ship stations included in the ITU database on ship stations.

Connecting the Plans

A major achievement of 2001 was the completion of a two-year operational plan in order to respond to members’ expectations, as expressed in the Minneapolis Plenipotentiary Conference Resolution 72, for improved linkages between strategic, financial and operational planning. This operational plan addresses the complete 2002-2003 budgetary period. It also provides a clear linkage with the budget structure as well as with the activities defined in it. Moreover, this enhanced biennial plan sets out expected achievements to be attained in the period 2002-2003 and also describes the accomplished achievements of the previous reporting period.

The biennial plan will result in a more effective management of the Bureau’s limited resources. The work to be carried out in the various units of BR will be assessed by means of quarterly reports in which the situation at the end of each quarter is compared to the results to be achieved. This assessment is facilitated by key performance indicators that will focus on members’ needs, taking into consideration, on the one hand, the workload placed on BR, and on the other hand, the resources available as proposed by the Secretary-General and decided by the ITU Council.

Considerable efforts are also being made to provide the software infrastructure needed to process the space and terrestrial frequency notices submitted by ITU Member States. These software tools are required to capture, examine and validate the notice forms. They are also used to publish the results of these examinations with a view to informing the international community about new services being brought into use. By doing so, the Bureau helps ITU Member States Administrations identify cases where their national services may potentially be affected.

The Bureau is also in charge of the dissemination of handbooks, standards and regulatory documents developed within the area of responsibility of ITU–R. Further, it complements the mission of ITU–D by designing and organizing seminars for ITU Member States and ITU–R Sector Members. In 2001, seminars were held in Iran and Mexico. Practical workshops were also organized in Geneva for space and terrestrial services. The complete series of ITU–R Recommendations were published in 2001. This amounted to 92 Volumes of Recommendations (in English, French and Spanish), as adopted by the Radiocommunication Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey (May 2000). These were produced on paper, on CD-ROM and are also available online through ITU’s website.

The Bureau also produced the 2001 Edition of the Radio Regulations, including all amendments and decisions of the World Radiocommunication Conference (Istanbul, 2000), both on paper and in electronic format.

Public Private Partnerships — The Key to Sustained Connectivity

ITU signed non-exclusive Memoranda of Understanding in 2001 with Siemens and Alcatel as part of its Centre of Excellence (CoE) initiative. The two European manufacturers will make in-kind contributions in equipment as well as making experts available to assist in developing new ICT training courses to complement the current programmes being made available through the Centres of Excellence.

The ITU Centres of Excellence serve as focal points in the different developing regions of the world for training, professional development, research and information on matters related to telecommunication issues. Training is provided to policy-makers, regulators, high-level corporate managers and frequency managers. The CoEs are also the focal points for regional and global information society initiatives and they provide consultancy to governments and private sector interests as well as facilities for conferences, seminars and colloquia.

Building the human resource capacity to manage and administer networks in the new telecommunication environment is one of ITU’s key objectives. Pioneering partnerships between the public and private sectors such as those with Alcatel and Siemens are essential if we are to see sustainable improvements in telecommunication service in all the regions of the world.

Centres of Excellence such as the Ecole supérieure multinationale des télécommunications (ESMT) in Dakar and the African Advanced Level Training Institute (Afralti) in Nairobi are located in physical facilities and serve professionals in West and East Africa respectively. Others consist of networked establishments, which accumulate and disseminate examples of best practice and training materials. The programme modules consist of telecommunication policies, regulatory issues, spectrum management, business management, technology awareness, IP awareness and human resources development.

Virtual Connections for Broadcast Training

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) launched a Virtual Learning Centre (VLC) in 2001 as part of the ITU Asia-Pacific Centre of Excellence. The goal is to meet the growing demand for skills development in the field of broadcasting.

Rapid developments in technology are presenting challenges for broadcasters in developing countries that risk falling further behind global broadcast standards if they are not able to embrace digital technology. This VLC will provide training in all aspects of broadcasting to the broadcasting community in the region.



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Updated : 2002-10-09