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The radio spec­trum is a price­less nat­ur­al resource. Because radio waves do not respect bor­ders, the use of the spec­trum must be reg­u­lat­ed inter­na­tion­al­ly. This is accom­plished through the Inter­na­tion­al Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union (ITU), a spe­cial­ized agency of the Unit­ed Nations. Through World Radio­com­mu­ni­ca­tion Con­fer­ences (WRCs) held approx­i­mate­ly every four years the ITU revis­es the inter­na­tion­al Radio Reg­u­la­tions which have the force and effect of a treaty. The Radio Reg­u­la­tions allo­cate the spec­trum to dif­fer­ent radio­com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices such as broad­cast­ing, mobile, radar, and radion­av­i­ga­tion (GPS). The most recent WRC was held in Octo­ber-Novem­ber 2019. The next one is not yet sched­uled but is expect­ed to be held in 2023, so it is usu­al­ly referred to as WRC-23. 

New uses of the spec­trum are being devel­oped every day. This puts enor­mous pres­sure on incum­bent users who are called upon to share their spec­trum access with new arrivals. The allo­ca­tion process is extreme­ly com­plex, espe­cial­ly when satel­lite ser­vices are involved.

Print This Page Updated on May 17, 2020

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