INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE
PRODUCES BENEFITS FOR CONSUMERS
The recently concluded negotiations at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-2000) in Istanbul represent a dramatic step forward in the Administration's goal to increase the availability of telecommunications services to millions of American consumers. WRCs are normally convened every 2 - 3 years by the International Telecommunication Union as the forum where the world comes together to decide issues that affect international telecommunications development. WRC-2000 was held from May 8 through June 2 with more than 2,600 delegates from around the world taking part.
Led by Ambassador Gail Schoettler, the U.S. delegation to WRC-2000, which included government officials and representatives from private industry, worked with delegates from 129 countries to produce a far-reaching policy that will allow for a dramatic expansion of high-speed wireless services. At the conference conclusion, Schoettler said: "It is very gratifying that U.S. national interests were met while enhancing the international use of spectrum."
The policies adopted by the WRC-2000 allow for 3 new bands of spectrum for high speed wireless services, generally known as 3rd Generation wireless. The U.S. delegation argued for flexibility and technological neutrality in providing service and allocating spectrum, while other nations had pushed for more restrictive policies. The U.S.-backed principles were embodied in the WRC's final agreement.
Commerce Assistant Secretary Gregory Rohde said: "As a result of the policies advocated by the U.S., suppliers of wireless services and manufacturers of wireless devices will have flexibility in producing new ways of allowing for Internet access and other types of data services at speeds far higher than are possible today. The Administration believes that the WRC-2000 results on 3G wireless services will help us advance our goal of expanding access to the internet for all Americans."
The WRC-2000 delegates also adopted policies allowing for new satellite services that could provide broadband Internet service worldwide. In addition, the U.S. delegation achieved several other goals. It succeeded in protecting the Global Positioning System (GPS) from possible interference from other services and persuaded the WRC-2000 to expand the amount of spectrum available for such services, at home and abroad. The U.S. delegation also successfully worked to prevent spectrum from being allocated for services that could have interfered with vital aeronautical and space-related services, including GPS.
WRC-2000 delegates approved a new plan for broadcasting satellite services for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. At the same time, the U.S. fought back proposals to use regulatory means to restrict the free flow of programming from those services. "The U.S. strongly disagreed with any attempts to control the content of programming, and will be watching this issue carefully," Schoettler said, noting that WRC-2000 had agreed to set the content issues aside for further study.
William E. Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said, "This was a very productive WRC. As a result of the decisions reached in Istanbul in the last month, all nations of the world are closer to enjoying the benefits of the Information Age. I want to acknowledge in a special way the hard work of Ambassador Schoettler and the rest of the U.S. delegation, including Commissioners Susan Ness and Harold Furchtgott-Roth."
FCC Commissioner Susan Ness stated that "WRC-2000 should be remembered not just for the excellent results achieved on wireless and satellite matters globally, but for the well-prepared, cohesive, and effective work of the entire United States delegation. I commend Ambassador Schoettler, our U.S. government colleagues and the industry representatives for a job well done."
FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth said, "I am very proud of the fine work of the FCC staff who have prepared for two years for the World Radio Conference. They and the U.S. government staff ably represented the United States on technical and legal issues alike. The entire U.S. delegation also benefited from the superb leadership of Ambassador Gail Schoettler. The final result of the conference is that U.S. interests and the interests of consumers around the world have been preserved."