Nº 6 2015 > Editorial
Leading tomorrow’s technology
Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary‑General
The year 2015 marked a historical landmark as we celebrated ITU’s 150th anniversary. Now, as the year draws to a close, we look back with pride at the incredible journey we have undertaken together — as a family of Member States, industry, academia and staff — in connecting the world with communication technology.
ITU may be 150 years old, but we remain young at heart — guiding the development of state-of-the-art telecommunications and information and communication technologies (ICT) around the world. As the oldest member of the United Nations family, ITU remains one of the most resilient and relevant organizations in the world today.
The remarkable history of ITU exemplifies its stellar role in connecting the world to the most advanced and innovative means of communication, from the days of the telegraph to the Internet and mobile broadband, which now allows us to be in touch at any time, anywhere, with friends, family, colleagues, and even with things.
We have taken several key steps this year to consolidate ITU’s role as the leading intergovernmental body supporting innovation in ICT across a range of sectors and industries, enhancing service delivery and the means of consumption in every corner of the world.
Accelerating digital innovation for social impact was the central theme of ITU Telecom World 2015, which took place in Budapest, Hungary from 12 to 15 October. Bringing together some 4000 participants from 129 countries, the event provided a full programme of dialogue, debate, and networking along with a showcase exhibition focusing on ICT development. Ministers, regulators, high-level representatives of international organizations, academia and media joined industry leaders from across the rich and varied ICT ecosystem — from established players and big corporations to micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and entrepreneurs, as well as the incubators, hubs, and accelerators which support them.
The Ministerial Round Table at Telecom World issued the “Budapest Call for Action”, emphasizing the importance of fostering innovation entrepreneurship and the role of ICT-based innovation in addressing key socio-economic and environmental sustainability challenges, such as those addressed by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It also urged the implementation of innovative solutions, technologies and partnerships aimed at bridging the digital divide and ensuring global connectivity for all.
The Radiocommunication Assembly (RA‑15) was held in Geneva from 26 to 30 October, prior to the World Radiocommunication Conference. Addressing rapid changes and future needs in the global telecommunications environment, the Assembly set future work programmes on many technical issues in the field of radiocommunications and approved worldwide radiocommunication standards (ITU–R Recommendations). Among others, 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) met in Geneva from 2 to 27 November and addressed a number of key issues that will govern future innovation in ICTs. Following on from RA‑15, detailed technical performance requirements for radio systems to support IMT-2020 were established, paving the way to meet the demand for high data traffic in the age of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things — with applications for enhanced mobile cloud services, emergency and disaster response, real-time traffic control optimization and driverless cars using vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-road infrastructure communication, along with efficient industrial communications and low-energy smart grids.
WRC‑15 made allocations of spectrum for broadband satellite systems, while coordinating procedures to make more efficient use of spectrum and satellite orbits for improved communication among both manned and unmanned space vehicles. New allocations were established for Earth-exploration satellite services for enhanced monitoring of the environment and climate change. Spectrum was also allocated for the aeronautical sector related to the use of unmanned aircraft systems and wireless avionics intra-communications as well as for global flight tracking for enhanced safety in the skies. Safety on sea and on land was also augmented. Maritime communications, facilitating the use of on-board digital transmissions and automatic identification system on vessels for improved navigation safety, were strengthened. Frequencies were also allocated for short range, high-resolution radars for collision avoidance systems in vehicles contributing to increased road safety.
The 13th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS) took place in Hiroshima, Japan, from 30 November to 2 December. Focusing on ICT as a driver of innovation and entrepreneurship, the symposium took a close look at big data and the data revolution, progress in measuring the impact of ICT innovation, as well as the monitoring framework for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The much-awaited edition of the flagship Measuring the Information Society Report was also launched at the symposium. We will have a more detailed account in the next edition of ITU News.
As we come to the end of a very eventful 2015. I would like to wish our readers warm season’s greetings and a very happy and productive New Year.