The future of wireless communications

The ITU Radiocommunication Assembly, which met in Geneva during the last week of October, set the future direction for wireless communications.

The Assembly is held every three to four years to deliberate the future direction of radiocommunications.

This year’s assembly which preceded the World Radio Conference reached significant decisions that will influence the future development of radiocommunications worldwide in an increasingly wireless environment.

Resolutions were approved to focus future studies and new radiocommunication techniques and applications while also agreeing on changes to streamline the working methods of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).

IMT-2020 Resolution approved, paving the way for 5G mobile systems

RA-15 established the principles and processes for the development of IMT-2020 – the next-generation 5G mobile system – as an extension of ITU’s existing family of global standards for International Mobile Telecommunication systems (IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced), which serve as the basis for all of today’s 3G and 4G mobile systems.

The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), in session 2-27 November, will address the requirements for additional spectrum to support IMT mobile broadband.

The 5G systems, set to become available in 2020, will usher in new paradigms in connectivity in mobile broadband wireless systems to support, for example, extremely high definition video services, real time low latency applications and the expanding realm of the internet of things.

Internet of things (IoT)

International standards for the internet of things (IoT) technologies and its applications, including machine-to-machine (M2M) networks, smart cities and ubiquitous sensor networks (USN) have been under development in the ITU Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) and other standards bodies.

RA-15 recognised that the globally connected world of IoT builds on the connectivity and functionality made possible by radiocommunication networks and that the growing number of IoT applications may require enhanced transmission speed, device connectivity, and energy efficiency to accommodate the significant amounts of data among a plethora of devices.

RA-15 resolved to conduct studies on the technical and operational aspects of radio networks and systems for IoT in collaboration with ITU-T and relevant standards development organizations.

Small satellites

RA-15 examined the issues related to the growing number of small satellites (with a mass less than 100 kg), including nanosatellites (typically 1 to 10 kg in mass) and picosatellites (typically 0,1 to 1 kg in mass), which provide an affordable means to access orbital resources for new entrants in space, including new spacefaring nations.

RA-15 resolved to develop material, such as Recommendations (standards), Reports, and a Handbook on small satellites, to enhance knowledge of the procedures for submitting filings of satellite networks to ITU.

RA-15 also requested the ITU secretary-general to bring this resolution to the attention of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space.


RA-15 recognised the ongoing work in the Radiocommunication Sector (ITU‑R) to support and protect the needs of persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs.

It asked ITU-R to continue studies and research related to accessibility in the development of devices and applications while promoting compatibility of new technologies.

ITU-R will conduct these studies in collaboration with ITU’s Telecommunication Standardisation and Development sectors and in consultation with persons with disabilities and specific needs.

The Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-15) was chaired by Akira Hashimoto (Japan). Around 460 participants from 97 countries attended the Assembly.

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The future of wireless communications