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WRC-15 spectrum decisions reach consensus

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ITU? satellite communication? wireless? mobile broadband? 5G?

Of course North American carriers have already started rolling out LTE services deploying 700MHz. And as Goddard noted, auctions of the spectrum are on the radar of many European countries. Indeed France started its auction last week and Germany has already allocated spectrum to a variety of carriers, despite the fact frequencies will not be freed up before the end of the decade.

And there is little doubt 700MHz harmonization will be a key feature in operators' plans to begin rolling out 5G services.

"The C-band is also likely to be used for 5G. The ITU has not specified in any way the technologies that will be used, but the topics will certainly feature in a big way at the next WRC in 2019. Several issues have already been agreed in the agenda for that Conference," said Goddard.

Some of these relate to the high frequency bands that will need to be deployed for 5G services, mainly above 24GHz. "One of the biggest issues facing those developing 5G is to identify large chunks of spectrum. One important band could be between 31.8GHz to 33.4GHz, in particular for short range applications," Goddard noted.

Satellite sector wary of 5G proponents

The satellite sector has for long been wary that 5G proponents are eyeing several chunks of spectrum used for satellite applications. They lobbied hard ahead of WRC-15 to retain the status quo, and in the event, under the auspices of the Satellite Spectrum Initiative, put a positive spin on some of the outcomes. "The world's governments resoundingly affirmed a clear vision for the importance of many vital and irreplaceable services provided today over satellite. They also agreed on a clear framework for future access to spectrum for innovative satellite communications."

As noted, some spectrum in the L and C bands widely used by satellite service providers was included in the harmonisation plans for mobile IMT use, but the SSI group stressed specific measures were agreed to protect adjacent satellite users in 1518MHz to 1559MHz, and there was no reallocation of the upper portion of the C-band, in 3.6GHz to 4.2GHz.

Meanwhile, several agenda items were adopted for future conferences that should spur growth in the satellite sector. For instance, one group will look at additional FSS (Fixed Satellite Service) spectrum needs in the 51.4GHz to 52.4GHz range, and report back at WRC-19. And looking even further ahead, an item for the WRC-23 agenda will consider additional spectrum in the 37.5GHz to 39.5GHz range.

And in what seemed to be a hotly contested debate, approval was given for a study that sets the path towards allowing the use of FSS links for unmanned aerial systems, more colloquially referred to as drones.

Also aside from mobile broadband issues, Goddard noted that delegates in Geneva also approved a potentially very important development by releasing spectrum to be used for wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC) that will allow for the heavy and bulky wiring in aircraft to be replaced by secure wireless systems.

And, amazingly, delegates even found time to rule that further studies are required regarding current and potential future reference time-scales, including the modification of coordinated unified time (UTC) and suppressing the so-called 'leap second.' The issue will be debated at WRC-2023. Until then, UTC will continue to be used.

Clearly, the ITU does not like to rush these things.

- John Walko
??EE Times

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