Terrestrial and satellite radiocommunications are essential for routine communications and navigation and for ensuring the effective operation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), to protect lives at sea. IMO is at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19), in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, (28 October – 22 November) with the message that the integrity of maritime radiocommunication services needs to be protected.
The use of radio spectrum allocated to existing (and future) maritime radiocommunication services must be safeguarded.
An important item on the WRC-19 agenda is to support the introduction of the Iridium satellite system in the GMDSS, by taking regulatory measures by 1 January 2020, to ensure full protection and availability of the frequency bands to be used by Iridium for the provision of GMDSS services.
Other important items, among others, are the regulation of autonomous maritime radio devices, and modifications of the Radio Regulations to include new spectrum allocations to the maritime mobile satellite service to enable a new VHF data exchange system (VDES) satellite component.
World radio communication conferences (WRC) are held every three to four years. It is the job of WRC 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. Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by the ITU Council, which takes into account recommendations made by previous world radio communication conferences.
The general scope of the agenda of world radio communication conferences is established four to six years in advance, with the final agenda set by the ITU Council two years before the conference, with the concurrence of a majority of Member States.
- revise the Radio Regulations and any associated Frequency assignment and allotment Plans;
- address any radio communication matter of worldwide character;
- instruct the Radio Regulations Board and the Radio communication Bureau, and review their activities;
- determine Questions for study by the Radio communication Assembly and its Study Groups in preparation for future Radio communication Conferences.
On the basis of contributions from administrations, the Radio communication Study Groups, and other sources (see Article 19 of the Convention (Geneva, 1992)) concerning the regulatory, technical, operational and procedural matters to be considered by World and Regional Radio communication Conferences, the Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM) shall prepare a consolidated report to be used in support of the work of such conferences.”