On 14 February South Africa’s Minister of Communications Dina Pule left for the International Telecommunications Union’s World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) in Geneva to participate in the adoption of a number of resolutions that govern the use of the frequency spectrum worldwide.
These resolutions will then be brought before the South African parliament for ratification.
WRC commenced on 23 January and ends on 17 February. A total of 1,700 different proposals covering almost all radio services and applications are expected to have been considered by the international delegates by then.
At this year’s conference, discussions about frequency spectrum, which refers to the signals that allow for radio and television broadcasts, took centre stage. Proposals about the need to improve access and the development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), especially wireless services were considered.
“Improving mobile communications access in developing countries, particularly in Africa, will help to bridge the digital divide and improve the living standards of the people,” says Minister Pule.
The conference will result in an international Treaty that will ensure continued efficient use of radio spectrum, particularly for Region 1, within which South Africa falls. This will pave the way for long term investments in key uses of frequency spectrum over the next 20 years.
“Spectrum is a precious resource because it is scarce. South Africa needs to join global efforts to ensure that spectrum is used efficiently to benefit the citizens of the world, governments and businesses,” notes Pule.
She adds that the WRC discussions are also aiming to protect the investment by operators that develop communications technologies that improve the lives of the people.
One of the key considerations is how to license spectrum for new mobile services, such as mobile television.
The Minister expects that the rollout of the infrastructure, maintenance of the network and distribution and repairs of related devices would create thousands of jobs in the country.
International Regulation of spectrum already allow the world to access news, information and entertainment via radio and television sets, safe travel on airplanes, ships and for scientific purposes related to the environment, meteorology, climatology, disaster prediction, mitigation and relief.
The South African delegation is led by Minister Pule and comprises industry experts, spectrum scientists, engineers, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, the Civil Aviation Authority, Air Traffic Navigation Systems, the South African Maritime Authority, Sentech, Telkom, Vodacom, Cell-C, the Departments of Science & Technology and Defence and Space Agencies.