Kathy Gibson is at ITU Telecom World in Durban – Ratifying 5G standards will be high on the agenda at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) taking place in October and November next year.

New regulations are the culmination of a process that takes place ahead of the WRC, and takes cognisance of events and investments made during the run-up period, explains Fran├žois Rancy, director of the ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau.

Decisions at WRC-19 will be made by consensus, and will make the agreed spectrum usage binding going forward, he adds.

Donna Bethea Murphy, senior vice-president: global regulatory policy at Inmarsat, on behalf of ESOA, EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), points out that satellite is a major connectivity enabler for things like ubiquitous WiFi, Internet of Things (IoT) and is particularly involved in smart city applications.

“It’s an exciting time for us, but also changing because the use of satellites is not always visible to the regulators or users. So we look to the ITU to get global consensus and ensure the industry can operate unencumbered.”

Device manufacturers have to comply with WRC decisions, but do not typically have a say in what they are.

Elizabeth Migwalla, senior director and head of government affairs: Africa at Qualcomm, explains that the hardware manufacturers spend billions researching new technologies.

“We know there is a demand for mobile broadband,” she explains. In fact, mobile data traffic is expected to grow up to 30-times what it is now, much of that for multimedia

The big opportunity, she adds, is in expanding mobile telecommunications beyond the traditional industry and into areas like manufacturing, agriculture and more.

“So we are going to require spectrum beyond where mobile has normally operated. We need to look at the higher bands that were not even viable just a couple of years ago.

“Our industry took the risk to try to stretch technology to utilise these spectrums. Now the technical viability has been proven and we have to translates that into real operational value.

“What is the environment that will enable mobile to operate in those frequencies? And is there a way that mobile can work other services in those bands, in a manner that is not detrimental to them?”

As a major consumer of radio spectrum, the World Meteorological Organisation is concerned about the equitable allocation of spectrum and the protection of the limited spectrum that it operates on.

Mark Majodina, WMO representative for Eastern and Southern Africa of the World Meteorological Organisation, explains that challenges include the allocation of 5G spectrum and how it affects the bands around it.

There is a scarcity of 5G spectrum, Majodina says, and there are also problems of interference.

“The ITU needs to make sure interference is minimised,” he says. Meteorology is a significant service in our lives. We could do away with radio communication, but you cannot get away from the preservation of life.

“It is our request that the spectrums we operate under is fully protected and secured.”