The International Telecommunication Union World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (ITU WRC-23) has kicked off in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), bringing governments together for negotiations on the allocation of radio-frequency spectrum. The conference, organised every three to four years by the ITU, will review and update the radio regulations, and the international treaty governing the use of spectrum and geostationary orbit (GSO) and non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO).

The WRC-23 agenda items include:

  • Identifying additional frequency bands for the continued development of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), including the use of high-altitude platform stations as IMT base stations for the universal deployment of wireless networks. This work will include the integration of satellites into 5G and 6G services. As noted by Via Satellite, there is a WRC-23 agenda item to consider adding spectrum bands for phone-to-satellite communications.
  • Improvements to the international regulatory framework for GSO and non-geostationary orbit NGSO satellites while promoting equitable access for all countries.
  • Use of satellite technologies for broadband services to improve connectivity, particularly in remote areas.
  • New spectrum to enhance radiocommunications in the aeronautical mobile service, including by satellite, and to facilitate the use of the space research and earth exploration-satellite services for climate monitoring, weather prediction and other scientific missions.
  • The modernisation of the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS).
  • The regulatory framework for the use of earth stations in motion on board aircraft and ships for communication with GSO and NGSO satellites.
  • The future of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) broadcasting band which has implications for television broadcast, programme-making and special events, as well as public protection and disaster relief.
  • ITU-R Resolution 65 paves the way for studies on the compatibility of current regulations with potential sixth generation IMT radio interface technologies for 2030 and beyond.

According to ITU, the radio regulations ensure that the use of the radio-frequency spectrum is rational, equitable, efficient, and economical – all while aiming to prevent harmful interference between different radiocommunication services.

Addressing the occasion, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, secretary general, ITU said, “We are at an inflection point in tech history, and radiocommunications are at the top of the global agenda. Equitably managed spectrum and the associated satellite orbits are among the best tools in our toolbox to make good on our commitment to build a digital future that works for everyone and for our planet.”

Meanwhile, Mario Maniewicz, director, Radiocommunication Bureau, ITU said, “This conference will revise and update the radio regulations to support the introduction of new radio-based technologies, systems, technologies and services and their growing spectrum requirements while continuing to protect the vital radio services we rely on today. Newer innovative technologies will allow us to better monitor our changing planet, and better connect communities and people everywhere: on land, at sea, in the air, and in space. I count on the spirit of cooperation of the ITU membership and your technical expertise to make WRC-23 a resounding success and leave a legacy of prosperity for billions of people across the globe.”

Overall, 4,000 participants are expected for WRC-23, including delegates from ITU member states and ITU radiocommunication sector members representing international organisations, equipment manufacturers, network operators and industry forums attending as observers.