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Request for Comment on Improvements to the U.S. Preparation Process for World Radiocommunication Conferences

Docket Number
Docket No. 031016259–3259–01]
[Federal Register: October 23, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 205)]
[Page 60646-60648]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 031016259-3259-01]

Request for Comment on Improvements to the U.S. Preparation 
Process for World Radiocommunication Conferences

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

ACTION: Notice, Request for Comments.


SUMMARY: The General Accounting Office (GAO) in Telecommunications: 
Better Coordination and Enhanced Accountability Needed to Improve 
Spectrum Management (GAO-02-096), recommends that the State Department, 
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) ``jointly 
review the adequacy of the preparation process following the 2003 World 
Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) and develop recommendations for 
improvements.''\1\ Since the conclusion of the 2003 WRC, NTIA has held 
meetings with the FCC and the State Department to discuss GAO's 
recommendations. NTIA initiated staff review and Federal agency review 
of its own internal WRC preparatory process, including the Radio 
Conference Subcommittee (RCS) of the Interdepartment Radio Advisory 
Committee (IRAC). Similarly, the FCC initiated a review of its internal 
processes used to prepare for the 2003 WRC and assessed whether the 
process could be improved.\2\ NTIA is currently conducting an overall 
review of the entire conference preparatory process and how the current 
process can be improved or modified. By this notice and request for 
comments, NTIA is soliciting the views of the industry and the public 
on these issues.

    \1\ See U.S. General Accounting Office, Telecommunications--
Better Coordination and Enhanced Accountability Needed to Improve 
Spectrum Management, GAO-02-906 at pg. 35 (September 30, 2002).
    \2\ See Public Forum to Assess FCC's Preparatory Process for 
World Radiocommunication Conferences, Public Notice, DA-03-02858 
(rel. September 10, 2003).

DATES: Comments must be received no later than November 24, 2003.

ADDRESSES: The National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration invites the public to submit written comments in paper 
or electronic form. Comments may be mailed to Darlene A. Drazenovich, 
International Spectrum Plans and Policy Division, National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, Room 4076, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 
20230 or e-mailed to Paper submissions 
should include an electronic version on diskette in ASCII, WordPerfect 
(please specify version) or Microsoft Word (please specify version) 

(202) 482-3480,, or James Vorhies, 
(202) 482-3590,, International Spectrum Plans and Policy 
Division, Office of Spectrum Management, NTIA.



    The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an 
intergovernmental organization within the United Nations that 
specializes in the field of telecommunications. The ITU brings together 
international governments and private industries to coordinate the 
establishment and operation of global telecommunication networks and 
services. Every three to four years, the ITU convenes World 
Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs)--an international forum for world 
agreement, to review and revise the International Radio Regulations. 
The Radio Regulations constitute an international treaty on 
radiocommunications covering the use of the radio-frequency spectrum by 
radiocommunication services. These conferences set the world stage for 
future technological development by allocating radio frequency spectrum 
to radio services, establishing spectrum use coordination methods, 
setting international rules for radio equipment operation, and 
identifying spectrum for specific uses such as Third Generation (3G) 
wireless systems.
    The United States is a key player in this important global endeavor 
because it brings new and innovative technologies to the world 
community while balancing global security, national

[[Page 60647]]

defense, and the public interest. NTIA, with the support of the Federal 
agencies, is partners with the State Department and the FCC in 
preparing for and participating in these conferences. Over the last 
several WRC cycles, the United States has made important strides in 
preparation for these critical intergovernmental meetings. NTIA 
believes that various aspects of the United States' preparation process 
to develop and promote U.S. objectives in upcoming conferences can be 
further improved upon.
    The United States preparatory process for World Radiocommunication 
Conferences follows two related paths--technical and proposal/position 
preparation. The technical preparation are conducted in the 
International Telecommunications Union Radiocommunications Sector (ITU-
R) Study Group process and includes Federal and Non-Federal Government 
participation. The U.S. International Telecommunication Advisory 
Committee (ITAC) is the mechanism by which the U.S. prepares technical 
studies for WRCs. The General Services Administration chartered this 
committee to the U.S. State Department as an advisory committee under 
the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)\3\. The ITAC-R National 
Committee (NC) assists the U.S. Government in technical preparations 
for international meetings and negotiations. Under this advisory 
committee, the public is afforded the opportunity to participate 
actively in government decision-making activities. With respect to 
technical preparations for WRCs, the State Department uses the ITAC to 
develop technical study inputs to the ITU-R study groups and the CPM to 
form the technical, operational and regulatory basis for WRC decisions, 
but does not employ the ITAC to develop preliminary views or proposals 
directly related to WRCs.

    \3\ See 5 U.S.C. app.

    The Federal and non-Federal WRC positions and proposal preparation 
processes are independent. The Federal preparation process includes 
NTIA, which represents the views of the administration. NTIA is the 
President's principal adviser on telecommunications and information 
policy and manages the Federal Government's use of radio spectrum.\4\ 
The Radio Conference Subcommittee (RCS) of NTIA's Interdepartment 
Advisory Committee (IRAC) meets monthly to discuss and approve Federal 
agency views, positions and proposals, on WRC issues.

    \4\ 47 U.S.C. Sec.  902 (2000).

    The Non-Federal Preparation is performed by the FCC. The FCC, an 
independent agency established by the Communications Act of 1934, 
manages the use of radio spectrum by state and local governments and 
the private sector. The FCC, as an independent agency, represents the 
views of its constituents and receives their input on WRC views, 
positions, and proposals.

Questions for Public Comment

    To assist in the assessment, NTIA seeks public comment on any issue 
of fact, law, or policy that may inform the agency about improvements 
needed in the WRC preparatory process. Specific comments are requested 
on the questions below. These questions are designed to assist the 
public and should not be construed as a limitation on the issues on 
which public comments may be submitted. Please provide copies of any 
studies, research and other empirical data referenced in the comments.

1. Federal Government Preparation Process

    A. How should NTIA as the President's advisor seek the views and 
inputs of the non-Federal entities?
    B. How can NTIA better educate the commercial sector on the Federal 
agencies' radiocommunication requirements, and related policies and 
decisions that affect U.S. conference proposals?

2. WRC Advisory Committee (WAC) Preparation Process

    A. The WAC is part of the FCC's WRC preparation process. How can 
the Federal agencies best participate in the WAC?

3. FCC/NTIA Proposal Coordination Process

    A. Should the Federal and non-Federal advisory processes remain 
independent? Why or why not?
    B. Federal views and proposals sent to the FCC represent NTIA's 
review and modification of RCS inputs and thus the Administration's 
output, while the FCC sends WAC views and proposals directly to NTIA 
for consideration without bureau review. Would it improve the process 
to take a similar approach on both sides (circulation of RCS and WAC 
inputs, or circulation of NTIA and FCC outputs)?
    C. Please specify how communications/coordination between the FCC 
processes and the Executive Branch processes under the purview of NTIA 
can be improved? Include in your discussion such topics as involvement 
of senior agency management, early agreements on WRC positions, NTIA-
FCC reconciliation process and timeframes.
    D. What steps can be taken to resolve difficult issues? Should 
timelines be developed in order to identify these issues early in the 

4. Study Group/National Committee Process Related to WRC Agenda Items

    A. Should the U.S. National Committee set objectives and policy 
regarding WRC studies?
    B. Is closer coordination among various study groups required? If 
so, why and how can this be accomplished?
    C. The U.S. Study Group consists of government and non-government 
participants who prepare for ITU meetings. Should the U.S. Study Group 
process be guided to align with U.S. WRC goals and objectives? If so 
why, and by what means?
    D. Should a Federal government/non-government position on agenda 
items and supporting information/studies to pursue U.S. positions be 
developed, approved and disseminated?
    E. To ensure success of U.S. objectives for WRC agenda items, 
technical studies must begin early in the process. Is it necessary to 
energize an agenda item and its associated studies by a certain point 
in the preparation process if no activity has occurred? If so, how can 
this be accomplished (e.g., what mechanisms and by what point in time)?

5. Forming the WRC Delegation

    A. Is there a lack of continuity in leadership between WRC 
conferences? If so, how can this be better managed?
    B. When in the preparation process should the core delegation 
group, vice-chairs, and principals be formed to begin work? How can 
these groups be better used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency 
of the United States' WRC agenda?
    C. Agencies, companies, and organizations nominate representatives 
to be on the U.S. WRC delegation. Is the nominated delegation formed 
early enough in the process to develop and approve final positions in a 
timely manner? If not, how can this process be improved?
    D. Is the accredited delegation formed early enough to develop and 
approve U.S. positions, strategy, and fallback positions? If not, how 
can this be improved?
    E. At what point in the preparation process should delegation 
assignments be made and spokespersons identified?

[[Page 60648]]

    F. How could the appointment and role of the U.S. Ambassador be 
    G. Is the United States' negotiating strength improved or hindered 
by the use of an appointed political representative working with career 
spectrum managers and ITU experts from other countries?
    H. Assuming the continued appointment of a WRC ambassador, at what 
point does the Ambassador's appointment need to be effective?
    I. During conference preparatory meetings, administrations meet to 
agree on the final report of studies, which is used as the technical 
basis at a WRC. Is it important to bring the Ambassador on board in 
some capacity prior to the conference preparatory meeting? If so, how 
can this be accomplished?

6. Budgeting WRC Activities

    A. Funding for the WRC Ambassador has been an ongoing concern. To 
ensure the Ambassador and the delegation staff are able to complete 
their missions, is it necessary to provide the Ambassador with an 
operational budget? Is so, how can representational funds best be used 
to conduct outreach efforts?
    B. What facilities are critical to the functioning of the 
delegation and the Ambassador at the conference site?
    C. Recognizing that agencies and companies send representatives to 
the delegation to participate in debates, negotiations, and outreach 
efforts, how should support be provided to cover the Editorial 
Committee of each WRC?

7. Outreach and Consultations With Other Countries

    A. Are consultations with other administrations needed? If so, at 
what point in the process should they begin?
    B. Is it important to work with other countries outside of the ITU 
study groups and the conference preparatory meeting? If so, why and how 
can this be improved?
    C. Should the Country Contact/Outreach program that is developed 
and utilized at a conference be maintained between conferences? If so, 
how can this be accomplished? Who should lead this effort? What role 
can the private sector play?
    D. Should WRC outreach activities be integrated with other 
international activities of the State Department, NTIA and FCC? If so, 
    E. How effective were the Delegation Consultations prior to WRC-03? 
Were they started in a timely manner?

8. Training

    A. Are trained and qualified Federal Government Spokespersons and 
issue coordinators available throughout the WRC preparatory process and 
especially at the Conference?
    B. Are training programs needed for spokespersons and delegates? If 
so, what should they consist of?
    C. Is preparatory training needed for general participation in ITU-
R Study Groups in support of WRC activities? If so, what should it 
consist of?
    D. What steps should be taken to maintain a cadre of experienced 
personnel in the Federal government in order for them to assume 
leadership and spokesperson roles at future WRCs?

9. WRC Domestic Implementation Process

    A. In the past, the United States has been faced with challenges 
regarding the implementation of WRC decisions. What can be done to 
improve this process?
    B. The GAO report noted that Federal agencies are concerned that 
WRC allocation decisions of primary interest to the Federal government 
go without action, how can the process be improved to ensure equal 
treatment of both government and private sector interests?
    C. Should FCC/NTIA develop a plan and schedule to complete 
rulemaking for each WRC agenda item? If so, within what timeframe of 
WRC completion should the plan be executed?

General Areas

    A. In broad terms, what goals should the United States have for 
WRCs? How should these goals be established?
    B. How effective has the United States been in the WRC process?
    C. What have been the benefits and costs of regional preparation 
for WRCs?
    D. How often should WRCs occur and what, if any, limitations should 
the U.S. support regarding WRC agendas.
    E. Over the years, there has been concern among WRC participants 
(government and non-government) regarding staffing issues. Do NTIA and 
the Federal agencies have sufficient staff with appropriate expertise 
to support spectrum management activities in the WRC preparation 

    Dated: October 20, 2003.
Kathy Smith,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 03-26789 Filed 10-22-03; 8:45 am]

October 23, 2003