Saturday, July 19, 2014

CSA - Site Survey Method 2/ITU

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) combines standards making capability and also has regulatory functions specific to mobile telecommunications. Therefore the ITU goes beyond standards making that may not create obligations in contrast with issuing regulatory measures that clearly do create regulation for it members who are signatories to the Convention.

Three important functions of the ITU are:

1) Regulation and Recommendations

Where there is an international aspect involved the ITU has the responsibility to manage the radio-frequency spectrum. The ITU allocates frequency bands to certain applications that would make use of the RF bands (see list below) e.g. Radio/Television Broadcast; Microwave Links; Radio-Astronomy; Mobile Telephony. The technical means and the physical nature of the frequency bands form the basis of the allocations. That is to say where a frequency band can be used and doesn't interfere with prescribed wide-ranging criteria; and the technical means exists or can be developed that enables the physical radio medium to be manipulated for use. Member states are bound to this allocation prepared by the ITU but assigning the frequencies to users is within the power and autonomy for each member state. ITU decisions are, in principle, binding to its members. The relevance behind that statement is that the ITU origins began to facilitate and enable subsequent amendments of the agreements to be agreed upon made at the Interntaional Telegrahy Convention of 1865. The principle of being bound only comes into effect when member states ( ) ratify the text of an evolving Convention. Changes to any text in the Convention thereafter also need to be ratified. A member state ( compare with ) failing to ratify new text is not bound by it thus watering down the effects of any binding powers over national sovereignty.

Essentially, whilst understanding ITU's can make decisions when it comes to Band allocations we know that ITU does not hold regulatory functions when it comes to standards. When dealing with interntional bodies like ITU the term standard, as we commonly understand it, is more profound at the ITU's level. This is because international technical issues are being addressed. Were the standards to be made binding that could have political implications / ramifications regarding national sovereignty etc. However, a standard adopted by the ITU are called "recommendations". The recommendations carry a voluntary adoption by members states. The recommendations can though become directly or indirectly binding if it is incorporated into member states legislation where the legislation refers to a particular ITU recommendation. That would have a direct binding agreement. An indirect binding agreement could be where European legislation does not mention ITU recommendation per se but refers to CEPT or ETSI standards that become recorded that are in-turn derived from ITU recommendations. Were there to be an inextricable link requiring identical wording for CEPT/ESTI standard/ITU recommendation then that may amount to an indirect binding agreement with or to the ITU recommendation. It may be accepted that *CEPT/ETSI might be in the driving seat but isn't this nothing more than that old adage 'What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...(Romeo and Juliet)?'

* At an appropriate juncture in another discussion CEPT/ETSI will also be discussed.

2) Recommendations as Standards

ITU draws up standards (recommendations) and provides them to the telecommunications community that are relevant for telecommunications between countries.  There are numerous diverse tasks requiring standards under the umbrella and responsibility of the ITU that are prepared and developed by numerous advisory groups that are split into divisions.

As this discussion relates to CSA and identified recommendations listed here ( ) the detail below highlights the radio subject matter from the division ITU-R.


Individual Recommendations for allocated bands
BO - Satellite delivery
BR - Recording for production, archival and play-out; film for television
BS - Broadcasting service (sound)
BT - Broadcasting service (television)
F - Fixed service
M - Mobile, radiodetermination, amateur and related satellite services
P - Radiowave propagation
RA - Radio astronomy
RS - Remote sensing systems
S - Fixed-satellite service
SA - Space applications and meteorology
SF - Frequency sharing and coordination between fixed-satellite and fixed service systems
SM - Spectrum management
SNG - Satellite news gathering
TF - Time signals and frequency standards emissions
V - Vocabulary and related subjects



Whether a member state has signed up to using the standards (recommendations) or not predominantly it is inescapable the technical information in the standards provides useful advice to countries and industry concerning: interconnection, access, terminal device standards, reference standards etc. Certainly in the areas of GSM, TDMA, CDMA, WCDMA/UMTS-UTRA etc many of those standards specific to these technologies constantly refer to ITU recommendations, thus further underpinning how useful ITU recmmendations are to use as references and guidance for cell site analysis.

3) Forums and Facilitors

Agreements between members require a commonality in understanding as to the reliability of international services available; thus technical services and commercial agreements need to be acceptable to both parties. ITU offers forums that help facilitate international agreements.

Final thoughts

The intention of this mini-overview about ITU recommendations was to demonstrate the value they offer given that they have weight due to the requirement of reliability to assist commonality and provide useful guidance for member states for that purpose. When dealing with CSA we are usually not involved at the member state level but at the operational performance of radio communications and services at the local level of which the ITU recommendations can and do provide useful reference material for reports and useful knowledge, skill and experience when conducting in the field surveys.

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