US Spectrum Requirements: Projections and Trends - Part 3

Part 3

U.S. Preparations for International Conferences

Any study of U.S. spectrum requirements must also address international spectrum issues. The ITU is the focal point for development of international radio regulations and spectrum allocations. The rapid development of radio-based technologies and the internationalization of telecommunications development have dramatically increased the importance of the ITU decision-making processes.

To a significant degree, spectrum allocation decisions made at international conferences affect national spectrum allocations. The international dimension of spectrum management can be critical to the successful establishment of certain types of telecommunications systems, particularly satellite-based systems. Therefore, the adoption of U.S. proposals at international radio conferences is vital to certain segments of the U.S. telecommunications industry.

It must be recognized that spectrum management has become globalized, and the United States is a critical part of this worldwide community. With this view, it is increasingly important that the United States develops a more coordinated and global view of radiocommunications services and spectrum allocation issues. To achieve this, the United States must maintain a continuous planning process that addresses advanced telecommunications technologies and services worldwide, and must re-evaluate the process by which domestic spectrum allocations are made, considering international markets for goods and services.

Many administrations are now in the process of privatizing previously government-owned and operated telecommunications systems. New systems and networks are being planned and established worldwide. Recognizing that these system developers may choose from multiple technologies, the United States must be competitive in the international telecommunications markets, offering goods and services that meet common technical standards adopted by the various administrations. To facilitate this, the United States must actively participate in international standards-setting activities, and maintain a progressive dialog with regional administrations concerning spectrum and general telecommunications issues.

The changing international order, made evident at the 1992 World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC-92), has created new alliances and centers of cooperation resulting in many common proposals from groups of administrations that tend to vote together as a bloc on major issues, e.g., the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). The expansion of existing groups and the creation of others will significantly influence the ITU processes such as World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC's), Radiocommunication Study Group meetings, and others.

In recognition of these factors, and with the understanding that future WRC's will be held at two year intervals, a number of questions were asked in the Inquiry regarding the development of U.S. positions for international radio conferences. This Part reviews and discusses comments received on these issues.

Chapter 11

U.S. Preparations for International Conferences

International Conference Schedule

NTIA requested comments regarding the appropriateness of the two-year cycle. Several comments were received regarding the frequency of ITU world radio conferences. Some commenters supported a regular conference schedule since it will reduce the substantial lag in introducing innovative services or technologies that may potentially be successful in the marketplace.[EN752] The disadvantage, as noted by another, was that a 2-year conference cycle would require continuous preparatory work.[EN753]

At the 1989 Nice Plenipotentiary, a High Level Committee was established to carry out an in-depth review of the structure and functioning of the ITU. From the result of this Committee's recommendations and the Final Acts adopted at the 1992 Additional Plenipotentiary Conference, the ITU Constitution (Article 13) initiated a work program based upon the convening of WRC's on a biannual basis.

We believe that the more frequent and focussed WRC's will result in more efficient conference management, domestically and within the ITU. Further, we believe that the changes adopted by the ITU were necessary to make the ITU more responsive to an increasingly dynamic market and telecommunications environment.

Appointing a Permanent U.S. Delegation Head

The topic of appointing the chair of the delegation as early as possible, at least one year in advance, has been raised in past reviews of the U.S. international conference preparatory process. Early appointment would provide more continuity for preparations, but each conference delegation usually has a different head. It has also been suggested that the United States should consider appointing a chair "at-large" who would serve as chair of the delegation for an interval that covers two or more conferences. In light of a more intense conference schedule, NTIA requested comments on the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.

Some support for the selection of a permanent U.S. delegation head was indicated in the comments. Reasons given were based on the fact that the delegation chair responsibilities require a familiarity with spectrum management, and the political workings of the ITU,[EN754]all facilitated by a permanent delegation head. Other commenters did not object to a fixed U.S. delegation head, but more importantly supported the early selection of a qualified candidate. It was noted that strong leadership and negotiating ability are critical and continuity is less important because it is inherent in a delegation of professionals.[EN755] There was a recommendation that a personnel pool be created of former FCC Commissioners and Presidential appointees to serve as U.S. delegation heads at the WRC's.[EN756] Similarly, the formation of a core group of experts was recommended, including both government and industry, with emphasis on accommodating existing users in radio services that are being displaced as a result of new or enlarged allocations to other radio services.[EN757] However, there is a possibility that instituting a permanent delegation head will become a disadvantage since the most qualified candidates will not be considered, as the Government's remuneration is thought by many to be inadequate.[EN758]

WRC's differ in their scope and degree of complexity. The most appropriate U.S. WRC delegation head will, therefore, depend upon the agenda of the conference. While not establishing a permanent delegation head for all WRC's provides more flexibility to the U.S. delegation, NTIA recognizes the problem regarding the time-consuming and political nature of certain appointments.

We believe that the head of the U.S. delegation should be appointed early in the two-year conference cycle in order to permit sufficient time to prepare for the conference.

Conference Preparatory Effort

NTIA requested comments on whether the ITU schedule for submitting proposals eight months before a conference be rigidly adhered to in order to maximize the possibility of acceptance of the proposals. We also asked what are the pros and cons regarding early submission of proposals. Further, should the United States have a cut-off date after which no new proposals would be accepted for consideration in order to improve the preparatory process?

With regard to the length of preparation for radio conferences, commenters noted that eight months for preparatory work may be excessive; a four- to six-month process[EN759] may be more appropriate, particularly since the 1992 Additional Plenipotentiary Conference adopted 4 months before a conference as the time element when proposals should be sent to the ITU.[EN760] Some commenters supported a deadline for U.S. proposals while another suggested that conference positions should only be adopted after consultations with other countries.[EN761] International broadcasters and others recommended improved access to the IRAC process by the commercial sector.[EN762] Harris suggested that the FCC should maintain the Industry Advisory Committees permanently.

With WRC's every two years, we believe that the U.S. preparatory process will become more systematic and more efficient. NTIA will continue to work closely with the FCC and the private sector to ensure that U.S. views are developed in a timely fashion to meet the new ITU conference schedule. In a more general approach, NTIA's Openness program has been established to provide improved public access to the Federal Government's spectrum planning process.

Promoting U.S. Interests

NTIA also requested comments regarding how various U.S. commercial interests, which are sometimes competing with one another, can be addressed during the preparatory process in a manner that is fair and equitable to all concerned. Further, NTIA asked how to reconcile competing Federal and non-Federal spectrum requirements. Finally, NTIA requested information on how to best present U.S. proposals to ITU WRC's, given their international nature, in order to promote U.S. commercial and government interests.

Many respondents noted the effective European cooperation in countering U.S. positions at WARC-92. In their comments, NASA encouraged the Federal Government to increase its awareness of European long-term plans and frequency requirements, and to improve ties with the Europeans by using areas of common interest to develop a more substantive dialogue.[EN763] A large number of the respondents support more cooperation with the Organization of American States' InterAmerican Telecommunications Commission (CITEL) in all areas of telecommunications.

The U.S. Government continues to improve its working relationship with regional telecommunication organizations. Efforts have been taken to explore radio matters with the European Radiocommunications Office of CEPT. These efforts will continue. Of more critical importance is the efforts that NTIA has undertaken to improve U.S relations and assistance to CITEL.

NTIA will continue its efforts in the CITEL forum to have that organization provide a more effective mechanism for the development of recommendations and joint regional views on spectrum management issues and matters that will be treated at ITU conferences.


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