Ofcom at CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) and at ECC (Electronic Communications Committee)

Published: 14 June 2023

Ofcom is directed by Government to represent the UK at the CEPT Assembly, ECC, Com-ITU and subordinate groups for matters which are not related to post and on the Council of the European Communications Office (ECO).

CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations)

The CEPT was originally established in 1959 by 19 countries. It then expanded to 26 members by 1969 and now has 46 members with Central and Eastern European countries having joined.

CEPT’s main role is to establish a European forum for discussions in the field of post and telecommunications, promoting harmonisation to facilitate interoperability and enable economies of scale to be realised.

CEPT has three Committees that report to the CEPT Assembly.

  1. European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP)
  2. Electronic Communications Committee (ECC)
  3. Committee for ITU policy (Com-ITU).

ECC (Electronic Communications Committee)

The ECC brings together the regulatory administrations of the CEPT member countries, including Ofcom. A number of Working Groups, project teams and task groups carry out its work.

  • Frequency Management Working Group (WGFM) provides a forum for CEPT frequency managers to discuss issues of common concern, including civil and military cooperation.
  • Spectrum Engineering Working Group (WGSE) carries out technical studies related to the use of the radio spectrum by various applications. This work is closely related to the frequency management discussions.

The ECC creates project teams and task groups to deal with specific high priority tasks.

The ECC relies on the expertise within these sub-groups to develop strategies for the implementation of long-term plans for the future use of the frequency spectrum. In particular, it maintains the European Table of Frequency Allocations and Utilisations (the strategic framework for frequency use in Europe) and also prepares draft ECC Decisions and approves ECC Recommendations and Reports.

Some examples of ECC activities and their impact on UK consumers:

  • Mobile Broadband such as WiFI and 5G.  The ECC has been involved in many areas related to the growth in the use of personal communications. It continues to play an active role around the technical and regulatory work looking to expand these services.
  • Short range devices – a wide range of consumer and industrial devices including Internet of things (IoT), wireless computer networking, home automation and audiovisual devices have flourished as a result of ECC work on the licence-exempt operation of radio devices with low potential to cause interference.
  • Digital broadcasting – the introduction and re-organisation of both digital television and radio requires cooperation with neighbouring countries to create the right conditions for deployment of new digital technologies.

One further area of ECC activity is the Conference Preparatory Group (CPG) which develops and agrees European Common Proposals (ECPs) and briefs for the work of ITU World Radiocommunication Conferences and Radiocommunication Assemblies and associated preparatory activities. The CPG also has a project team structure, in a similar way to ECC, where common positions are discussed and agreed.

The ECC also undertakes close inter-regional cooperation and consultation with other regional telecommunication groups. Amongst these organisations are CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunication Commission)RCC (Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications), APT (Asia-Pacific Telecommunity), ATU (African Telecommunications Union) and the ASMG (Arab Spectrum Management Group).

ECO (European Communications Office)

The ECO was established to support the ECC, its Working Groups and its 48 member countries. It aims to:

  • Provide a centre of expertise which shall act as a focal point, identifying problem areas and new possibilities in the radio and telecommunications fields and to advise the ECC accordingly
  • Draft long-term plans for the future use of the radio frequency spectrum at a European level
  • Support and work together with national frequency management authorities
  • Conduct consultations on specific topics or parts of the frequency spectrum
  • Publish ECC Decisions and Recommendations and keep a record of their implementation
  • Identify and promote best practice in the administration of national numbering schemes and number assignment procedures
  • Oversee the registrar service for the European Telephony Numbering Space

Com-ITU (Committee for ITU Policy)

Com-ITU is responsible for coordinating preparations for ITU conferences and assemblies, except ITU-R issues. As such, its duties include:

  • Organisation of CEPT actions prior to and during key ITU conferences and Council meetings;
  • Development and approval of European Common Proposals (ECPs);
  • Compilation of a CEPT brief for national delegations to use when presenting ECPs and negotiating at ITU meetings;
  • Liaison with other regional organisations on these matters. It also deals with the administrative, financial and strategic issues that occur during Council and Council Working Group meetings and coordinates CEPT views on these matters.
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