WorldDMB Regulatory & Spectrum Committee Consultant
The World Radiocommunication Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (WRC-15) will take place in Geneva from 2 to 27 November 2015.
This conference is expected to be the most important event related to radio spectrum in 2015 with impact on radio spectrum use in long term. It is the job of WRC to review and revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits.
The crucial question of the WRC-15 is whether countries will support allocation of more spectrum to mobile service for broadband communication or they will prefer protection of current services, e.g. broadcasting. There is no free spectrum in the attractive frequency range below 1 GHz and giving frequencies to one service means that other service/application will be limited. The apprehension is that broadband, particularly the LTE technology, will have monopoly position against other platforms of communication and information distribution.
The agenda for the conference contains a number of items worth our attention;
Agenda Item 1.1 is to consider additional spectrum allocations to the mobile service on a primary basis and identification of additional frequency bands for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and related regulatory provisions, to facilitate the development of terrestrial mobile broadband applications.
It is likely that broadcasting L-band (1452-1492 MHz) will be identified for mobile broadband globally, particularly for supplemental download. The question is, if the identification will be limited to 1452-1492 MHz, willneighbouring frequencies also be identified? L-band is used or planned for use by digital radio in a limited number of countries and the identification for IMT is widely supported. Opponents are only countries operating aeronautical services in the band.
Other considered bands are more problematic than L-band because of compatibility and sharing with other services.
The list of potential bands contain broadcasting band 470-694 MHz and there are proposals to implement mobile service in the band despite parts of the band (700 MHz and 800 MHz) being already allocated for mobile broadband. Opinions about the future of this band depend on the national situation of terrestrial television in particular countries. WRC-15 will decide if the band will be studied or not.
Agenda Item 1.2 is to examine the results of ITU-R studies on the use of the frequency band 694-790 MHz by the mobile service in Region 1 and take the appropriate measures.
Two years ago at the WRC-12 conference in 2012, it was surprisingly decided to identify the band 694-790 MHz to IMT. This decision is recognised by national spectrum administration to take this part of the TV band from broadcasting and use it for mobile broadband. The WRC-15 will consider the conditions for compatibility with the TV transmission below 694 MHz and also with the other services which share the band 694-790 MHz. The issue is very complicated and views of the broadcasting and mobile communities were conflicting for long time. Currently the compromise was found which sets the general solution, but it is expected that particular cases and local compatibility will be solved by national spectrum authorities. Lower edge 694 MHz was confirmed and 9 MHz guard band between digital television and mobile networks is supported.
The taking of the band from broadcasting was confirmed by this compromise and broadcasting will have less spectrum for providing the service and it sets the precedence for future development (e.g. taking another part of the broadcasting spectrum).
Agenda Item 1.3 is to consider harmonised bands for broadband public protection and disaster relief (PPDR).
PPDR already have harmonised bands for narrowband application like voice communication or messages and alerts. New applications providing video communication require new technology with wider channels and that was the reason for looking for new spectrum for PPDR. Harmonised solution is needed for collaboration of corps from various countries and offers benefits from mass production. Some services of PPDR could be supported by commercial networks but dedicated interference free spectrum is required too. Various bands were considered in this agenda item and finally the 400 MHz band and the band 694-790 MHz were identified as suitable. 2×5 MHz of dedicated spectrum was identified as minimum needed in the 700 MHz band and proposal was to place PPDR in the ranges 698-703 / 753-758 MHz. Guard band between PPDR and digital TV transmission below 694 MHz is 4 MHz only and risk of mutual interference is high. Interference free environment for PPDR is the basic condition and if this proposal will be adopted it will set another limitation to TV and will decrease available spectrum. Proposed technology for broadband PPDR is LTE.
Some countries in Europe support the use of the band 698-703 / 753-758 MHz for PPDR and others oppose. CEPT came to the understanding that use of the band could be decided on national level but discussion is not finished.
Agenda Item 10 is to recommend to the Council, items for inclusion in the agenda for the next WRC, and to give views on the preliminary agenda for the subsequent conference and on possible agenda items for future conferences.
It is important to monitor if future WRC agenda will touch broadcasting. TV band 470-694 MHz could be subject of studies as well as the Band I or Band II. Spectrum available for broadcasting could be limited and possibilities to provide broadcasting services reduced.
Next important step in WRC-15 preparation will be the Conference Preparatory Meeting (CPM) which shall prepare a consolidated report to be used in support of the work of WRC. This Report will be prepared based on the draft CPM Report (chapters are prepared by responsible ITU study groups), the Report of the Special Committee on Regulatory/Procedural matters, contributions from ITU-R membership and the preliminary Report of Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau of ITU.