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As part of NTIA’s's role managing the Federal Government’s use of radio-frequency spectrum, the Office of Spectrum Management (OSM) represents the spectrum-related interests of the Executive Branch, the federal agencies, and the United States as a whole, at regional and international spectrum policy-making forums.  In doing so, NTIA works closely with the Department of State, the Federal Communications Commission, and other federal agencies.

Most activities involve the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for information and communications technologies (ICTs).  Every three to four years, the ITU convenes the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) to review and revise the international Radio Regulations (RR), an international treaty governing the global use of the radio-frequency spectrum.  The RR also sets technical and regulatory conditions to promote interference-free operations.  The United States is one of 193 Member States of the ITU.

The ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) is the focal point for developing technical recommendations for international spectrum use.  The ITU-R facilitates international collaboration to ensure the rational, equitable, efficient, and economical use of spectrum and satellite orbits.  NTIA leads federal preparations for ITU-R Study Groups to develop technical studies and policies for these ITU-R meetings and, ultimately, WRCs.

Another vital function the ITU performs is international frequency registration.  Countries provide the ITU, via station registration, spectrum use information to gain international protections and coordination assistance.  Registration serves as a means to deliver equitable access to spectrum and interference-free operations.  NTIA OSM, in collaboration with the FCC, registers U.S. satellite networks with the ITU and leads coordination meetings with foreign and domestic administrations or network operators to ensure harmonious spectrum use.

In addition to the ITU, regional bodies play an important role in equitable access to spectrum and economic development.  The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) of the Organization of American States is the regional body that strives to promote regional harmonization, economic development, and other common spectrum-related interests within the Americas.  NTIA leads the federal preparation for proposals and technical work related to CITEL.  NTIA collaborates with FCC and State Department to represent federal, commercial, and U.S. interests while developing regional proposals and views to WRCs.  

NTIA conducts spectrum-related international outreach and training programs for developing countries and federal agencies.

International Telecommunications Advisory Committee – Radiocommunications (ITAC-R)

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NTIA Spotlight: Meeting Spectrum Needs At Home Takes Work Abroad

May 7, 2012

Julie Zoller Earlier this year I participated in the 2012 World     Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12), where policymakers negotiated changes to the international treaty that governs the use of radiofrequency spectrum.  This conference is convened every three to four years to ensure the treaty, called the Radio Regulations, keeps up with the rapid pace of technological development in radiocommunications.  

Spectrum is the lifeblood of mobile communications, from the smartphones we carry to the radar and GPS systems used to guide aircraft.  Because radio waves don’t stop at a nation’s borders, international agreements are necessary to ensure that spectrum-dependent devices can operate without causing harmful interference to one another.  That’s where the Radio Regulations come in.  Additionally, harmonized spectrum – essentially, radiofrequencies that multiple countries use in the same way – makes it more likely we can use the same devices in many different countries and therefore makes devices more affordable.

Improving International Spectrum Management Policies and Framework

March 13, 2008

In accordance with the Plan to Implement Recommendations of the President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in coordination with relevant federal agencies, conducted a comprehensive study of the U.S. international spectrum policy framework.2 This study reviewed the following four policy considerations: 1) policies and related approaches regarding barriers to the implementation of new spectrum-dependent technologies and services; 2) U.S. technical, administrative and financial contributions to organizations involved in international spectrum policy; 3) crossborder processes for sharing and coordination to ensure compatibility; and 4) global and regional spectrum harmonization and technical interoperability.

This report is the result of the recommended study effort and examines each of the four identified components of the U.S. international spectrum management framework. In considering each area, an assessment was conducted of how the United States develops positions and interacts with other administrations and regional and international bodies with regard to international spectrum management. Past and ongoing efforts are described and analyzed and conclusions drawn from the outcomes of recent U.S. policy positions. This analysis led to several recommendations for how the U.S. Government might work both to improve national policies and procedures for international spectrum management and also to enhance the underlying framework in which it operates when seeking spectrum for new spectrum-dependent technologies and services.

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