Regulators, regional and international organizations, operators, manufacturers, and radiocommunication experts from around the world met earlier this week to review preparations for the next World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-23.
In this first of three inter-regional workshops, hosted virtually by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), participants focused on the need for new frequency allocations, associated regulatory frameworks and related implications of the world’s accelerating digital transformation.
Government and industry representatives worked together closely to review key preparatory issues for the global conference, set to take place in the United Arab Emirates from 20 November to 15 December 2023.
“WRC-23 profoundly influences future developments of new and emerging technologies, which in turn can accelerate digital transformation in line with sustainable development,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “The efficient sharing of radio frequency spectrum is at the heart of global efforts to ensure the benefits of digital technologies reach everyone, everywhere.”
Building regional and global consensus
The multi-stakeholder review of WRC-23 agenda items spanned policy and technology challenges and associated regulatory questions, from international mobile telecommunication and mobile broadband to crucial frequency allocations for broadcasting, aeronautical, maritime, satellite, and science services.
In addition to exchanging views on the preparatory studies and priorities for WRC-23, participants reviewed drafts of preliminary positions from Regional Telecommunication Organizations and other concerned entities.
“Despite new restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, ITU members continue to show their strong commitment to the WRC preparatory process by participating in our virtual meetings,” said Mario Maniewicz, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau.
“The spirit of international cooperation underpins the ITU tradition of consensus building. Over the years, the multi-stakeholder preparatory process has proven a powerful and increasingly successful mechanism for reaching agreements within and between various regional groups.”
More than 620 participants attended the workshop including 448 participants from 70 Member States, 126 Sector Members, and representatives from international organizations, telecommunications industry, associations, and academia.
Gathering regional insights
The workshop highlighted the regional preparations for the Second Session of the Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM23-2) and the next Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-23), as well as WRC-23.
Roundtable discussions on draft preliminary common views and positions benefitted from the participation of main regional groups, including:
– Asia-Pacific Telecommunity
– Arab Spectrum Management Group
– African Telecommunications Union
– European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations
– Inter-American Telecommunication Commission
– Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications
Other United Nations agencies, international organizations, and industry stakeholders also engaged in collaborative discussions on the international regulatory framework for the frequency spectrum that is used by all radiocommunication services worldwide.
Update on the Network of Women for WRC-23
The Inter-Regional Workshop included the first activity session of the Network of Women for WRC-23 (NOW4WRC23), an ITU initiative to promote gender equality, equity and parity in the Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) and to encourage and empower more women to actively participate in the conference.
The session included a roundtable discussion with the Regional Co-Chairs of the NOW4WRC23. Discussions focused on the Network’s global and regional activities, and its key priorities including increasing the number of women in leadership roles at WRC-23, calling for more NOW4WRC23 mentors, addressing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on women’s participation in the activities of the Radiocommunication Sector and ensuring their continued participation when physical meetings resume.
Preparing for World Radiocommunication Conferences involves extensive studies and discussions among a variety of stakeholders, from governments, regulatory authorities, network operators and equipment suppliers to industry forums and spectrum users at national, regional, and global levels.
The multi-stakeholder approach enables consensus-building, essential to ensure the WRC fosters a stable, predictable, and universally applied regulatory environment.
This in turn helps ensure current and future investments in radiocommunication services that are free of harmful interference.