Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 20th December 2023 – From national security to entertainment, countries and territories across the globe rely on the radio-frequency spectrum for daily life activities. Spectrum is an invisible resource utilised by all wireless communication technologies in a prescribed manner that is legally regulated by national regulatory authorities according to internationally agreed rules. This enables all wireless communication services to operate simultaneously and successfully using specifically allocated frequencies or frequency bands (ranges). Hence, for example, over-the-air radio and television broadcasts, cellular, Wi-Fi, maritime, aeronautical and satellite communications all operate together, utilising different portions of the spectrum.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) held the latest World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 20th November to 15th December 2023. World Radiocommunication Conferences, held every three to four years, convene global stakeholders to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits. Conference proceedings are managed on the basis of an agenda determined by the ITU Council, which takes into account resolutions made by previous World Radiocommunication Conferences. Revisions to the Radio Regulations are considered and negotiated among ITU Member State delegations at the Conference based on their national development priorities and on the results of relevant technical studies undertaken in the interim between WRCs.
In total, some twenty-six (26) representatives from nine CTU Member States plus two (2) from the CTU Secretariat attended WRC-23 in Dubai. The participating countries included Belize (3), Cayman Islands (2) as part of the UK delegation, Cuba (4), Grenada (1), Jamaica (7), Sint Maarten (1) as part of the delegation of The Netherlands, Suriname (1), The Bahamas (3) and Trinidad and Tobago (4). Their primary role was to follow and, as appropriate, contribute to the progress of negotiations on agenda items of Caribbean interest, both bilaterally and collectively within the CITEL (Americas region) caucus.
Dr. Maria Myers-Hamilton of the Jamaican delegation had a leading role as a Vice Chair of the WRC’s administrative Committee 4 which managed several substantive technical matters, notably those related to international mobile telecommunications and Wi-Fi. The CTU Secretariat, represented on the ground by Mr. Nigel Cassimire, Deputy Secretary-General, and Mr. Tariq Mohammed, CTU WRC Youth Fellow with remote assistance from personnel at CTU headquarters, provided general administrative and logistical support to Member State delegations on the ground.
WRC agenda items of particular interest to the Caribbean were those on international mobile telecommunications (IMT), fixed services, satellite services (particularly those related to Earth observation), high altitude IMT base stations (HIBS), maritime communications related to the upgrading of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and future agenda items for WRC-27 and 31. All of these reached conclusions satisfactory to Caribbean interests.
At the WRC, the Deputy Secretary-General and representatives from Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the CTU WRC Youth Fellow paid a courtesy call on Mrs. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General, and discussed opportunities for effective collaboration between the ITU and CTU Secretariats in 2024, including possibilities for integrating the Caribbean more fully into future ITU events.
Caribbean delegates from Grenada, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the CTU Secretariat also took the opportunity to meet with Mr. Mario Maniewicz, Director of the ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau (BR). As a national of the Americas region, of which the Caribbean is a part, Mr. Maniewicz was delighted with the level of Caribbean representation at WRC-23 and looked forward to planned collaborations between the BR and the CTU for staging of radiocommunication events in the Caribbean in 2024.
The next WRC meeting will take place in 2027. The venue is still to be confirmed by the ITU.