C. J. Acton Elected Conference Chairman International Telecommunications Union


C. Stead, Deputy Secretary of the ITU Conference congratulates Mr. Acton on being elected chairman by the assembled delegates. A. Longberger, President of ITU Administrative Council, 1959 is next to Mr. Acton.


Outer Space Needs Was a Lively Topic


C. J. Acton, Superintendent of Radio Regulations and International Agreements of Regulations Division of the Telecommunications and Electronics Branch, brought singular honour to Canada when he was unanimously elected chairman of the International Telecommunications Union, 7th Ad­ministrative Radio Conference.


Held in Geneva, Switzerland from August to December 1959, there were 85 countries participating: the U.N. and six special­ized agencies, (IMCO, ICAO, UNESCO, WMO, WHO and UPU) and 19 international organizations, represented by over 800 delegates.


The task confronting Mr. Acton at the outset of the conference called for the services of a diplomat and an administrator. To respect and reconcile the views of all those participating in the conference, also the formal proposals, about 6,000, submitted prior to or during the session and to effect the adoption of a new set of international radio regulations, was an outstanding accomplishment. When the conference closed on December 22, it had succeeded in reaching agreements on many difficult problems including a new "Table of Frequency Allocations" which contains radical changes in allocations and recognition of new radio services. The new table includes allocations up to 40 gigacycles (40,000 megacycles).


Mr. Acton, head of the Canadian delegation to the ITU, which also included W. J. Wilson, Deputy Head, A. J. Dawson, H. F. Jackson and A. G. E. Argue from the Telecommunications Branch, has represented the Department at many radio service conferences since 1947, when the last ITU conference to revise the Radio Regulations was held in Atlantic City. A great deal of preparatory work for the Union was done at these service conferences, so that Mr. Acton was well prepared for his big task. Among the conferences which he has attended are: Provisional Frequency Board (PFB) Geneva, 1948; Aeronautical Radio, Geneva, 1948­1949; High Frequency Broadcasting, Mexico City, 1948-1949; Extraordinary Administrative Frequency Conference (EARC) Geneva, 1951; Buenos Aires Plenipotentiary, 1952. He also has represented Canada on the ITU Administrative Council, which meets annually, in Geneva. He was also Chairman of the Council for 1954.


The basic problems of the ITU revolve around the international table of frequency allocations which, ever since the 1927 Radio Telegraph Conference, has been the heart of the radio regulations. There are other problems, however, such as the technical characteristics of transmissions; procedures for interference cases; international monitoring, procedures in the mobile services, registration of frequencies and the role of the International Frequency Registration Board.


Since 1947 there have been spectacular developments in the scientific field and it was natural that some of these had a direct effect on the Geneva Radio Conference. Of these possibly two are of particular interest: the epoch of space communication dawning before the world and the development of radio astronomy. The problem of frequency allocations for space communication purposes involves not only those who are directly interested in the launching of satellites, but also, because of potential interference, those using frequencies for other purposes.


The Conference allocated frequencies for space research purposes and has recommended the holding of a further international Conference in approximately three years' time to consider more permanent allocations for all categories of communication needs in outer space, taking into account the results of the research undertaking in the intervening period.


Some of the anticipated developments in this field, in addition to telemetering, involve weather forecasting, long distance navigational aids, broadcasting, and high capacity communications between widely separated points throughout the world.


The development of radio astronomy techniques is vital to the scientists to obtain greater knowledge of the galaxies and some provision has. been made in the new Table of Frequency Allocations to provide the necessary windows for this scientific research. In addition, Administrations are urged to protect additional frequencies in the spectrum for this new service.


Founded in 1865, as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU is the oldest and one of the most worldwide international governmental organizations. Therefore, it is claimed to be the first in the field of governmental international collaboration. Radio waves have no respect for national boundaries so that cooperation between countries became mandatory. Today the Union also recognizes the great need for assistance to emerging civilizations in establishing reliable telecommunication services as a requirement for economic development.


Mr. Acton's interest in the field of radio developed during the first World War, when he actively participated in the establishment and operation of radio communications systems for the Canadian Army. Following this, he spent a number of years with Canadian Government coast radio stations and subsequently has had wide experience in telecommunication problems while occupying administrative posts in the Telecommunication Branch where he completed 40 years service last year.




And the ITU World Administrative Radio Conference 0f 1959

 by W.J. Wilson & F.G. Perrin

July 4, 2007


Charles J. Acton began his career in radio as a radio operator at various government coast radio stations on Canada's west coast following the First World War, specifically at Bull Harbour in 1921 and Pachena in 1922. As the use of radio grew following that war his career advanced in the Radio Division to the point where he became Superintendent of Radio Regulations and International Agreements in the Radio Branch of the Department of Transport in Ottawa shortly after the Second World War.


In that role, in addition to looking after the development of radio regulations and international agreements, he was a delegate of Canada in the early days of radio to many International Telecommunications Union (ITU) World Administrative Radio Conferences, to many Canada- United States radio conferences as well as to many annual ITU Administrative Council meetings. Early in 1959 he was chosen to head the Canadian delegation to the ITU's World Administrative Radio Conference that year in Geneva. When the conference opened in the fall of 1959, in recognition of his experience in working with delegates and resolving international radio problems, the conference delegates chose him unanimously to be its chairman and to ensure its success.  


By the time the Conference opened both the USSR and the USA had successfully launched for the first time operational satellites proving that they could become popular for world-wide communications in the future. Obviously frequency allocations and international radio regulations would be required for future satellites to ensure their international recognition. It was obvious to many delegates to the conference that something would have to be done to provide for this new radio communications service in the ITU's Regulations. But so little was known about this new development, still in its conceptual stage, that nothing could be done about it by the 1959 conference then meeting. 


Charlie, on his own, conceived a plan to have this conference allocate frequencies for Space Research as this would allow frequencies to be used for research by satellites but not require them to meet the technical standards as were normally required by the ITU for all the various kinds of radio systems used around the world. Also it would get ITU member countries thinking about what the ITU operating standards and regulations for such satellites should be when more was known about their probable operating characteristics and when a future ITU world international radio conference was called to provide for them.


Quietly he set up a small working group of the delegates most interested in the radio aspects of this new and emerging form of radio communications and got them to agree to propose that the Conference include allocations for Space Research in the ITU's Radio Regulations. The Conference agreed and when the Final Acts of the 1959 Conference were approved it estab-lished internationally agreed frequency allocations and radio regulations for conducting the Space Research needed for the development of the satellite communication systems we have today.


Thus Charlie paved the way for two successful international actions. The first was the development by the ITU's International Consultative Committee on Radio (CCIR) of recommendations for ITU technical regulations governing the sharing and use of radio frequencies required for satellite radio communications. The second was the convening by the ITU of the Extraordinary Administrative Radio Conference of 1963 which allocated the radio frequencies and agreed on the international radio regulations and technical standards needed for the development of the satellite radio communications systems we have today.


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