ITU sets new directions for wireless communication

November 5th, 2015
The ITU Radiocommunication Assembly  has made a number of significant decisions that will influence the future development of radiocommunications worldwide in an increasingly wireless environment.

The Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-15) was chaired by Akira Hashimoto. Around 460 participants from 97 countries attended the Assembly.

“The ITU Radiocommunication Sector plays a central role in the technological progress of telecommunications and information and communication technologies,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, noting that issues facing the ICT sector have become increasingly diverse and complex.

“At a time when technical solutions require greater innovation and skill, this Radiocommunication Assembly addressed the rapid changes underway in the global telecommunications environment in a manner commensurate with its future needs,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau.

RA-15 set future work programmes on many technical issues in the field of radiocommunications and approved worldwide radiocommunication standards (ITU-R Recommendations). Resolutions were approved to focus future studies and new radiocommunication techniques and applications while also agreeing on changes to streamline the working methods of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).

IMT-2020 Resolution approved, paving the way for 5G mobile systems

RA-15 established the principles and processes for the development of IMT-2020 – the next-generation 5G mobile system – as an extension of ITU’s existing family of global standards for International Mobile Telecommunication systems (IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced), which serve as the basis for all of today’s 3G and 4G mobile systems. The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), in session 2-27 November, will address the requirements for additional spectrum to support IMT mobile broadband.

The 5G systems, set to become available in 2020, will usher in new paradigms in connectivity in mobile broadband wireless systems to support, for example, extremely high definition video services, real time low latency applications and the expanding realm of the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things (IoT)

International standards for the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and its applications, including machine-to-machine (M2M) networks, smart cities and Ubiquitous Sensor Networks (USN) have been under development in the ITU Standardization Sector (ITU-T) and other standards bodies. RA-15 recognized that the globally connected world of IoT builds on the connectivity and functionality made possible by radiocommunication networks and that the growing number of IoT applications may require enhanced transmission speed, device connectivity, and energy efficiency to accommodate the significant amounts of data among a plethora of devices.

RA-15 resolved to conduct studies on the technical and operational aspects of radio networks and systems for IoT in collaboration with ITU-T and relevant standards development organizations.

Small satellites

RA-15 examined the issues related to the growing number of small satellites (with a mass less than 100 kg), including nanosatellites (typically 1 to 10 kg in mass) and picosatellites (typically 0.1 to 1 kg in mass), which provide an affordable means to access orbital resources for new entrants in space, including new space-faring nations. RA-15 resolved to develop material, such as Recommendations (standards), Reports, and a Handbook on small satellites, to enhance knowledge of the procedures for submitting filings of satellite networks to ITU. RA-15 also requested the ITU Secretary-General to bring this Resolution to the attention of the United Nations Committee On Peaceful Use of Outer Space.


RA-15 recognized the ongoing work in the Radiocommunication Sector (ITU‑R) to support and protect the needs of persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs. It asked ITU-R to continue studies and research related to accessibility in the development of devices and applications while promoting compatibility of new technologies. ITU-R will conduct these studies in collaboration with ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization and Development sectors and in consultation with persons with disabilities and specific needs.

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