The UAE is set to host the International Telecommunication Union's World Radiocommunication Conference next year, which aims to promote international co-operation and future investment in key global sectors.
More than 4,000 delegates from the ITU's 193 member states are expected to convene at the event, including top government authorities, regulators and representatives of key radiocommunications users and providers, the UAE's Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) said on Wednesday.
WRC-23 will be held from November 20 to December 15, 2023, at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The flagship conference will be preceded by the Radiocommunication Assembly, from November 13 to November 17, 2023, at the same venue.
The WRC, which is held every four years, is a forum for crucial policy and technical regulatory discussions. But its most important mandate is to update the Radio Regulations.
These are the sole international treaty governing the use of the radio frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary satellite orbits.
The UAE hosting the WRC runs parallel with its efforts to advance its communications ecosystem as it is emerging as a “major hub and global leader in the digital economy”, Majed Al Mesmar, director general of the TDRA said.
The country is keen to support the ITU in the vital task of “allocating global resources such as radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbit positions to create a seamless, reliable and innovative global communication system”, he said.
Global communications are a key component of economic activity and society worldwide, and its importance was further highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, which dramatically increased demand for reliable digital communications services and necessitated change within the industry.
The global satellite communication market was valued at $71.6 billion in 2021 and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 per cent, from 2022 to 2030, according to Grand View Research.
Rising requirements for mobile satellite services and small satellites for Earth observation services across the energy, oil and gas, defence and agriculture industries are driving the growth, it added.
The overall global telecoms market is expected to be valued at about $1.96 trillion by 2028, from almost $1.8tn in 2022, at a CAGR of 1.5 per cent.
The UAE, meanwhile, is making strides to continuously boost its communications infrastructure, which is a critical component for the digital transformation of its government, economy and society.
It ranked 21st globally in the UN e-Government Survey 2020 — up eight places from 2016 — in terms of online services, telecom infrastructure and human capital.
The UAE also leads the Arab world in digital progress and preparedness for the future, according to the Future Readiness Index from the Portulans Institute and Google. The nation was third among 27 emerging global economies and 23rd out of 123 countries.
“WRC‑23 will play a key role in shaping the future of technical and regulatory framework for the provision of radiocommunication services in all countries,” said Mario Maniewicz, director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau.
“The economic opportunities brought about by technology should be available not only for some of us, but for all.”
Delegates to next year's WRC are expected to consider the results of technical studies on specific matters on the agenda, and to revise the Radio Regulations accordingly, the statement said.
Such revisions will serve to expand access to radio frequencies for various services and applications, including broadcast services, emergency communications, and satellite and space services, wherever needed worldwide, it added.
“The world has come through the Covid-19 pandemic relying on digital technologies and services like never before,” said Zhao Houlin, secretary general of the ITU.
The TDRA had earlier revealed the findings of its UAE Digital Transformation Enablers report, highlighting the important milestones of the digital transformation process through a series of initiatives, including the Federal Network, UAE Pass, the Government Service Bus and the national customer relationship management system.