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ITU 100 years

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of what became the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) <http://www.itu.int/> Radio Regulations, and
the ITU will formally celebrate the occasion later this month
<http://www.itu.int/ITU-R/information/promotion/100-years/>. The first
International Radiotelegraph Conference gathered 29 maritime states in
Berlin, Germany, in November 1906 to sign the "International Radiotelegraph
Convention," establishing the principle of compulsory two-way coast-to-ship
radio communication and aimed at making it free from harmful interference.
The annex to that convention contained the first regulations governing
wireless telegraphy. Since expanded and revised by numerous radio
conferences, these regulations now are known as the Radio Regulations of the
International Telecommunication Union, or simply as "the Radio Regulations."

"In 2006, the ITU membership has good reason to celebrate the centenary of
the Radio Regulations," the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau observed in
announcing the centenary celebration, set for October 30 in Geneva. "One
hundred years after 1906 we are witnessing innovative technological
solutions using radio transmission setting the grounds for a wireless

Keynote speakers at the event will include ITU Deputy Secretary-General
Roberto Blois, and ITU Radiocommunication Bureau Director Valery Timofeev.
Honorary guests will include representatives of the original 27 member-state
signatories to the 1906 convention.

The ITU said the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) process has been
instrumental in providing "timely and effective international regulatory
frameworks for the establishment of advanced new wireless services and
applications, while safeguarding the interests and rights of existing
radiocommunication users."

Originally occupying just 12 pages, the Radio Regulations -- today a binding
international treaty -- now apply to frequencies ranging from 9 kHz to 400
GHz and incorporate more than 1000 pages of information describing how the
radio spectrum may be used and shared around the globe. Some 40 different
radio services now compete for spectrum allocations to provide the bandwidth
needed to extend services or support larger numbers of users.

Commenting on the centenary, International Amateur Radio Union (IARU)
<http://www.iaru.org/> Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, paid tribute to the
farsightedness evidenced at the Berlin Conference.

"Even in those early days, the delegates recognized that the radio spectrum
was a unique international resource and that the privilege of access carried
with it great responsibilities," Sumner remarked. "Radio -- then known as
wireless telegraphy -- was a technological marvel at the beginning of the
20th century, and in new forms continues to amaze at the beginning of the

Sumner said the fact that the radio spectrum remains so useful today is
testimony to the success of the international regulatory regime inaugurated
in Berlin.

"It didn't just happen," he said. "Without the original guiding vision and
the dedicated stewardship of subsequent generations of delegates to
innumerable ITU conferences, the radio spectrum today might well be chaotic,
polluted, and practically useless. The ITU and its Member States, and
especially the Radiocommunication Bureau, are well deserving of accolades on
this important anniversary."

The ARRL Letter
Vol. 25, No. 42
October 20, 2006


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Last modified: 03/07/12