Commonwealth countries adopt action plan towards achieving consensus ahead of WRC-15 – CTO: Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

Commonwealth countries taking part in the group of nations’ preparatory meeting last week in London ahead of the forthcoming 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) have adopted an action plan towards achieving consensus at the international conference next month.

WRC-15, which will allocate new spectrum for radio communications, including for international mobile telecommunication (IMT) services will take place from 2 to 27 November 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

All regional groups–whose positions guide the WRC process–include Commonwealth countries among their members. The London meeting which took place on 7 – 9 October 2015 was an opportunity for members of these regional groups to better appreciate the views and positions of other regions and help achieve greater consensus.

Chaired by Anil Kaushal, Member of the Board of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India, the meeting elected a Bureau to coordinate the views of Commonwealth countries during the Conference next month. The Bureau includes Dr Edmund Katiti (Uganda) as the WRC Commonwealth Coordinator; representatives from Canada, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, UK and the Caribbean as Vice-Coordinators; and Edmund Fianko (Ghana) as the WRC Commonwealth Rapporteur. Agenda Item Coordinators were also appointed.

Sharing his satisfaction at the end of the three-day meeting, the CTO’s Secretary-General Shola Taylor said he was satisfied that “this meeting has helped to better understand the various positions by different regions, and has also highlighted areas where clarity was still required, and we are grateful to the ITU for its contributions throughout our discussions”.

Key outcomes of the London meeting include:

  • Strong support for identification of additional spectrum for IMT in most parts of the L band;
  • Resolve to protect digital terrestrial television in the UHF band;
  • Future studies on potential use of part of the S band for IMT;
  • Mechanisms to achieve consensus on the lower part of the C band taking into account the growing demand for mobile broadband and the needs of countries like in the Pacific which depend heavily on satellites;
  • Support for future studies for IMT above 6 GHz to accommodate 5G, excluding Ku and Ka satellite bands;
  • A mechanism for further engagement with various regions on the possible use of FSS for unmanned aircraft, taking into account aviation safety concerns;
  • Support for global harmonisation on Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms; and
  • Recognition of the importance and urgent treatment of global flight tracking taking into account studies in the Director’s report.

“For Commonwealth countries, this meeting gave a clearer sense of the likely outcomes of WRC-15, so we encourage our members to be proactive and contribute to deliberations in Geneva as efficient as possible,” Mr Taylor added.

Mario Maniewicz, Deputy to the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau at the ITU gave the participants an overview of preparations for WRC-15, and also provided clarifications on WRC proceedings and rules that will guide the Conference.

Festus Daudu, Chair-Designate of WRC-15 who also took part in the London meeting said discussions were “very productive as they enabled countries represented to better understand all regional positions, and I would like to congratulate the CTO for taking this initiative.”

Private-sector operators such as Inmarsat, Avanti Communications Group, and Google, as well as mobile industry association GSMA also took part in the meeting to express interest in specific spectrum bands in pursuit of advancing global connectivity. The case for safeguarding spectrum resources allocated to broadcasting was made by the BBC who gave a tour of its extensive London production facilities to the participants at the meeting.

Representing the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Kirk Sookram, Executive Officer for Technical Service and Development also shared his satisfaction at the end of the event: “The meeting has given Caribbean participants a great opportunity to understand within a single forum the views of all other regions that have some of their members in the Commonwealth,” he said.

The initiative of the London pre-WRC-15 meeting by the CTO is part of a wider programme of activities to implement a specific mandate of Commonwealth ICT ministers at their meeting held in London in March 2014 to coordinate all ICT matters in the Commonwealth.

Earlier this week, less than a month after assuming office, Mr Taylor had met with Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the ITU in Geneva to discuss wider collaboration between the two organisations.