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International Telecommunications Union

The International Telecommunications Union, 150 years of history

Ever since the 17th May 1865, date on which the first telegraphic convention to manage the first international telegraphic networks was signed, the ITU has been at the centre of all communications related technological advances, from telegraph to satellites, the internet and mobile phones. 

The first international radio-telegraphic convention was held in Berlin in 1906, in particular to regulate wireless telegraphy, of which the first spectacular application was in the sea safety field. At the time, the first Radio-broadcasting Regulation (RR) only covered two wavelengths, 300 m and 600 m, used for maritime radio-communications. 

Two famous shipwrecks showed the effectiveness of marine radio:

  1. Thanks to a wireless call in 1909, 920 passengers were saved by the American coastguards when the Republic and the Florida collided.
  2. The Titanic used the SOS code for the first time in 1912: 700 people, or almost a third of the passengers, were rescued by several ships, including the Carpathia, which arrived on site one hour after the ship sank.

This conference established the “SOS” as the global marine distress signal. At the start of that century, the ITU had 29 member nations.

As a direct consequence of the First World War, the 20s experienced a high increase in both domestic and professional use of radio. It became necessary to list and organise frequency bands to improve efficiency and quality. To accompany this rapid growth, the 1927 Washington Conference resulted in the first frequency distribution table.  The frequency unit at the time was the kilocycle (it was only in 1959 that the Hertz became the frequency unit of measurement). In 1932, to better express the range of its responsibilities, the International telegraphic union became the International Telecommunications Union

In 1947, following the Atlantic City conference, the ITU became attached to the United Nations.  During this conference, which was held from 16th May to 2nd October 1947 (four and a half months), the frequency distribution table was completely revised, as the result of the progress in the uses of radio made during the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War.   The end of the 60s marked the beginning of the first frequency assignments for space programmes (1968).

The very serious RR also provided for possible extra-terrestrial communications. Indeed, n° 5341 of RR article 5 recognises the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence programme. This American programme dating from the 60s, groups together projects of which the purpose is to detect signals an extraterrestrial life form might emit, whether deliberately or not, from its planet of origin.   The searches were located in the 1,400-1,727 MHz and 197-220 GHz bands.

Currently, the ITU has 193 member countries and some 700 private sector organisations. A long way from its first international telegraphy harmonisation works, today its actions cover the entire ICT sector, from digital broadcasting to the internet, including mobile technology and 3D television.  

To find out more:

The WRCs and the ITU-R study commissions

The ITU gathers together 193 member states. It is composed of three sectors: standardisation (ITU-T), telecommunications development (ITU-D) and radiocommunications (ITU-R). The ITU's objectives, structure, organisation and operation are governed by its constitution and its convention which are amended every four years during the plenipotentiary conferences. These two fundamental texts lay down the principles on which the Union is founded, in particular the role it is given to assign the radio spectrum frequency bands and record the uses of frequencies and orbital resources in order to avoid interference between member states.

It is the ITU-R's role to assign frequencies to radiocommunications services worldwide, coded in the Radiocommunications Regulations.

  •   The World Radiocommunications conferences (WRC) meet every three or four years to decide on the changes to be made to the Radiocommunications Regulations (RR) in order to adapt the existing framework to the spectrum needs to develop existing applications or introduce new applications. The RR splits the spectrum into frequency bands that are each assigned to one, or more generally several, radiocommunications services; the RR governs the use that these services can make of these bands.  The RR is a treaty that is binding on the public services that are members of the ITU. Each state has a national frequency plan that carries over and completes the relevant RR provisions for that State.
  •  The ITU-R study commissions, which are supervised by the radiocommunications assemblies that meet jointly with the world conferences, adopt Recommendations that tend towards a certain technical standardisation at the worldwide level. Some of these commission work groups are also in charge of preparing the items on the WRC conference agenda.
  • The Radiocommunications Regulations are the regulatory framework for the spectrum use that is applicable to all ITU member states. It is completed by a set of procedural rules which, when applicable, clarify certain obscure aspects or lift certain incoherences.

The ANFR’s action with the ITU

The Agency takes part in the preparatory works in the study commissions and in the ITU-R work groups and actions, in the CEPT groups and in the inter-regional meetings. It defends the French positions drawn up with the assignees and all the French players in the sector in question in the framework of the advisory commission for world radiocommunications conferences and the radiocommunications assembly advisory commissionn.

  • The WRCs, which last four weeks considering the number and complexity of the studies required by crowded agendas and the high economic stakes these decisions put into play, require much prior work. These are carried out within the ITU Radiocommunications sector (ITU-R) by its work and action groups, under the control of the Conference preparation meeting (CPM) which meets about six months prior to the WRC in order to finalise technical and regulatory studies in the form of a report and to identify options to fulfil the different items on the agenda. The purpose of this report is to help all ITU member states to make proposals during the Conference.
  • WRC preparation also occurs in the context of regional organisations (CEPT in Europe, CITEL for the Americas, APT for Asia-Pacific, RCC for the IEC countries, Arab League, UAT for Africa) and inter-regional organisations through exchanges between those organisations.

#25AnsANFR🎂 #1jour1date Le 5 avril 2016, c’est le passage à la #TNT HD ! L’@anfr lance une campagne d’information incitant les téléspectateurs à se munir d’un téléviseur ou d’un adaptateur compatible HD pour continuer à recevoir la TNT. ©M.Chalvin

#EU5GConf Lors de la session sur les verticaux, Eric Fournier évoque la connectivité 5G pour des applications locales (industrie, media, transport/logistique, agriculture) : de futures bandes harmonisées à 4 GHz (autorisations générales) et à 6 GHz (autorisations individuelles) ?

.@GillesBregant , DG de l’@ANFR et Eric Fournier, Directeur de la planification du spectre et des affaires internationales, interviennent aujourd’hui à la Conférence européenne sur la #5G.
Pour plus d'informations et pour suivre l'événement ⤵️ #EU5GConf

« Ce n’est pas la 5G qui perturbe les radioaltimètres, ce sont plutôt ces derniers qui sont mal préparés à l’apparition de la 5G » ⁦⁦@GillesBregant⁩ 👇

#25AnsANFR🎂 #1jour1date le 2 avril 2015, l’@anfr publie ses 1ers jeux de données en #opendata sur le site gouvernemental Ces données ouvertes donneront lieu à l’organisation de hackathons annuels dédies aux fréquences : « les Fr’Hacks » ©M.Chalvin

[in English] The ANFR has published in English the first results of measurement of public exposure to waves carried out before and after the #5G roll out in 1500 sites in France.

L’ANFR est intervenue la semaine dernière à Lorient avec la @DGA sur la future frégate de la @MarineNationale, la FREMM Lorraine, pour vérifier les nombreux systèmes de transmission par fréquences, à l’approche des 1ers essais en mer

#25AnsANFR🎂 #1jour1date 29 janvier 2015 : la Loi dite « Abeille » (Loi sur la sobriété, la transparence, l’ information et la concertation en matière d’exposition aux ondes) confie à l’ANFR de nouvelles missions, notamment le recensement des points atypiques ©M.Chalvin

🎙️Retrouvez l’intervention de @gillesbregant, DG de l’@anfr, ce matin sur @Franceculture pour répondre à la question « la 5G peut-elle perturber le trafic aérien ? »
L’intégralité de l’interview en replay : La 5G peut-elle perturber le trafic aérien ? ⤵️

#25AnsANFR🎂 #1jour1date Depuis le 1er janvier 2014, l’@ANFR gère le dispositif national de contrôle et de mesures des ondes, qui permet aux particuliers et aux collectivités de faire des demandes de mesures d’exposition. ©M.Chalvin

#25AnsANFR🎂 #1jour1date 1er novembre 2012 : l’@ANFR autorise les 1ères implantations de sites 4G et publie son 1er #observatoire du déploiement des réseaux mobiles, qui rend le processus de déploiement des opérateurs mobiles plus transparent. ©M.Chalvin

ANFR a Retweeté

L’oreillette divise par 10 votre exposition aux ondes des smartphones

#25AnsANFR🎂 #1jour1date 8 mai 2012 : refonte des certificats radioamateurs français en un seul certificat « HAREC », qui permet une reconnaissance avec les certificats étrangers et autorise le mode numérique. ©M.Chalvin

ANFR a Retweeté

Pour le bon réseau, je vous renvoie à cette étude de l'@anfr: appeler dans de bonnes conditions peut diviser le niveau d'exposition... par 32.000.

Donc on évite les coups de fil dans le train. En plus ça énerve tout le monde.

ANFR a Retweeté

Avions et 5G : pourquoi la France a moins de soucis que les États-Unis

L’ANFR publie ce jour une étude sur l’exposition aux ondes du téléphone portable utilisé avec un kit oreillette : cette utilisation permet de réduire d’un facteur 10 en moyenne son exposition aux ondes, comparé à un usage direct de son téléphone portable.

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